BY Amy Rohu
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) took almost 300 calls every day last week from parents struggling with back-to-school costs. Calls for help with school costs are up 10% compared to previous years.
The charity says many of the calls received relate to requests for financial help with parental contributions, schoolbooks, digital equipment, and help with the cost of school uniforms.
Rose McGowan, SVP National President, said: “For struggling parents, the preparation for the new school year is a huge source of stress, in particular the anxiety associated with the prospect of requests for contributions or other expenses for extra-curricular activities.”
Members of SVP are particularly concerned about the number of calls they are receiving from worried parents in relation to the cost of iPads and tablets.
Many of these devices cost between €600 and €800 and are impossible for struggling families to afford. When schools had to make the switch to online learning during school closures, SVP provided significant support to low-income families struggling with the cost of digital devices and internet costs.
Speaking about the role the government could play in alleviating the issue, Marcella Stakem, SVP Research and Policy Officer said: In this year’s pre-budget submission, we are asking Government to prioritise investment in measures to address educational disadvantage and rising school costs. Budget 2022 must lay the foundations for everyone to reach their potential and it must leave our education system in a better place than the way we found it before Covid-19.”
According to a survey conducted by children’s charity Barnardos earlier this year, over 50 percent of parents were worried about the cost of returning to school. One third of all parents said meeting the costs this year would be more difficult as a result of the pandemic while 20 percent of parents said they will be taking out some form of loan to cover the rising costs.