Dáil Éireann - Volume 479 - 13 May, 1997

Written Answers. - Psychological Services.

210. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education the number of educational psychologists who are available to schools for pupil assessment in counties Sligo and Leitrim; if there are waiting lists of pupils for assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12649/97]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): There is a school-based psychological service provided by my Department to second-level schools in counties Sligo and Leitrim. Two psychologists are currently assigned to these schools.

The psychologists from this Department who serve second-level schools carry out assessments as the resources of time and personnel allow. They give priority to pupils whose difficulties are perceived to be acute, and do not operate a formal waiting list. Most pupils may, therefore, be seen without undue delay. Where necessary, the schools psychologists refer pupils to the appropriate specialist agencies of the health authorities for further assessment and treatment.

At present, responsibility for arranging for the psychological assessment of children in national schools, where such is deemed necessary, is a matter for the regional health boards through the appropriate director of community care. The [401] question of waiting lists for assessment is a matter for the relevant health board. However, I am pleased to have been able to provide a psychological service by my Department for the first time to a number of schools which serve disadvantaged areas in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and South Tipperary.

When it becomes possible to have further expansion of the Department of Education's psychological service, the needs of children and of schools in counties Sligo and Leitrim and in other areas, will be borne in mind.