Dáil Éireann - Volume 527 - 05 December, 2000

Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

386. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the NEPS; the position regarding the difficulties with the Department of Finance in relation to sanction for further psychologists; the county structure he has in place to provide the professional service to which children are entitled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28482/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The national educational psychological service – NEPS – is an executive agency of my Department. It has responsibility for developing an educational psychological service for all children and young people attending schools and other educational institutions recognised by my Department.

There have been no difficulties with the Department of Finance with regard to the appointment of new psychologists. In the last few months, I have appointed 38 new psychologists to the NEPS and a further ten are in process of being recruited. I also expect to be in a position to announce a further expansion of the service in the near future.

The current situation is that the NEPS provides a psychological service for all post-primary schools and approximately 725 primary schools. The expansion of the NEPS is now well under way, with, at present, 75 psychologists serving with the agency. As soon as the newly appointed psychologists have completed their induction training, they will be deployed in schools.

The NEPS psychologists are being deployed in ten regions corresponding to the health board regions. It is envisaged that, by the end of its development period, the NEPS psychologists will be providing an educational psychological service for every school in the country.