Reform of the child benefit system which would see it become a school attendance payment would help to tackle the issue of truancy, Denis Naughten TD has claimed.
“This is an issue which has attracted media coverage again in recent days and is something that continues to be a serious problem,” stated Denis Naughten. “The replacement of child benefit with a school attendance payment would be an added incentive for some parents to ensure that their child has a full attendance at school. Such a payment would also be the most effective way to address the problem of school drop-outs, an issue that cannot be ignored any longer.
“Why not only pay child benefit up to pre-school going age, when the free Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) kicks in, and from that point on introduce a new universal school attendance payment?
“It would also tie in with the Programme for Government, which prioritised the issue of literacy. The reporting structure is already in place as presently a school is legally obliged to inform the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB), if a child has missed 20 days or more in the school year or if it is concerned that a child is missing too much school. The NEWB could then be requested to send an e-mail to Social Welfare informing them of a child’s continued absence.”
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