Linking Child Benefit to School Attendance FAQs
School attendance up to the age of 16 years is a statutory requirement under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. Consequently, all recipients of child benefit are legally required to attend school up to this age.
A number for frequently asked questions regarding my proposals to link child benefit with a school attendance are addressed here:
1. Who will monitor school attendance?
The National Educational Welfare Service, under Tusla, was set up under the Education (Welfare), Act 2000. It has responsibility to monitor school attendance and its job is to support parents, guardians and children and make sure that every child attends school regularly or receives a good standard of education elsewhere. See www.newb.ie for more information
2. Would chronically or temporarily ill children (eg, with a long-lasting illness such as glandular fever) continue to receive child benefit?
The school must report to the National Educational Welfare Service if a student that is missing for 20 days or more. If the absence is unexplained an Educational Welfare Officer will talk to the school and then may decide to contact parent/student in an effort to improve their school attendance. If a child is sick the parent must tell the school that their child cannot attend and say why. (It is best to do this in writing, by giving the school a note to explain why the child was out).
As there is a good reasons for a child not being in school and this is taken into account.
As a result Child Benefit payments would continue to be paid.
3. What about kids that are home-schooled?
Under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, parents have a right to educate their child outside of a recognised school, for example, in the home. The Irish Constitution acknowledges the role of a parent / guardian as the primary educator of the child and has enshrined in law that a parent / guardian may home educate a child.
Under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, the NEWB is charged with ensuring that every child receives an education and as part of this remit it must ensure the registration of children who receive their education through home settings. This requirement exists in order to support parents in their right to home educate and to safeguard a child’s right to a minimum education.
If a parent decides to educate their child outside of a recognised school, for example, in the home, they must register the child with the National Education Welfare Service and it will . then carry out an assessment of the education being provided. As a result Child Benefit payments would continue to be paid.
4. Does this mean it won’t be paid during school holidays?
Parents will continue to receive payment under the child benefit scheme as normal during summer months, once they comply with the existing attendance rules.
5. What happens when children with special needs cannot be accommodated in school. Will parents continue to be paid?
This is an on-going issue and one which needs to be addressed from an educational perspective, as the State is currently failing these children.
However, specifically in relation to receiving a child benefit payment, where a child is unable to attend school because of a disability then parents & the pupil are supposed to engage with the local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs). These SENOs are the point of contact for parents/guardians with schools & Education Welfare Service.
Where parents have engaged with the local SENO and/or the Education Welfare Service child benefit payments would continue to be paid.
6. What about babies 0-4 yrs and would we still receive payment on holidays?
For pre school children they would continue to receive their current child benefit payment.
Parents will continue to receive payment as normal during summer months. Parents continue to receive the SAME payment as long as they comply with the existing attendance rules.
7. What about new born children up to school age?
Parents of pre-school children would continue to receive their current child benefit payment until they reach school going age. At a later stage this attendance condition could be extended to ECCE scheme, but as attendance is not presently monitored there would be a need to set up a new monitoring system and associated costs.