Dáil Éireann - Volume 521 - 13 June, 2000

Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

289. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the inadequacy of the child-physchological services in the south Tipperary area; and if he will outline his plans for the improvement of this service. [16609/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): All primary and post-primary schools in the south Tipperary area have access to the educational psychological service. I am aware that the level of access to the service in the area at present has been affected by staff vacancies. However, I recently announced that 50 additional psychologists have been selected for appointment to the national educational psychological service and this will result in the vacant posts in south Tipperary being filled as a matter of priority.

A development plan for the extension of the national educational psychological service agency on a national basis is currently in the course of preparation. It is planned to employ some 100 psychologists by the end of this year and a total of 200 educational psychologists at the end of the development phase in 2004. The psychologists will be appointed to regions corresponding to the ten health board regions to facilitate effective liaison with colleagues in the clinical sector. In this connection I can confirm that there is regular liaison in the south Tipperary area between the NEPS psychologists and the South Eastern Health Board clinical psychologists. The South Eastern Health Board psychologists provide a range of clinical services for children in the area.

The development plan will provide for the assignment of educational psychologists to the various regions on the basis of equitable and transparent criteria. It is envisaged that a total of four psychologists will be working in the south Tipperary area by the year 2002.