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By cypscadmin, Wednesday, 19th June 2024 | 0 comments
Filed under: Parenting Support, Participation, Education.

A Good Start is Half the Work... Following the Covid pandemic, children and young people's attendance at school has been significantly impacted. Addressing this need, Limerick CYPSC members came together to create a range of supports to tackle this problem.

Key stakeholders and education professionals gathered at a Limerick CYPSC School Attendance Conference in Thomond Park. This packed out event marked the culmination of a two-year interagency collaboration under the CYPSC auspices.  Multiple partners across all areas of child, youth and family services in Limerick and from both the community sector and the statutory sector committed to promoting school attendance.

Informed by research conducted by Dr. Catriona O’Toole and Tara Ciric, Limerick CYPSC has developed a range of resources for parents and educators to support children and young people to attend school. The research report, Navigating School Attendance Challenges: Towards a Collaborative, Equitable and Unified Community Response in Limerick, captured the voices of young people who had previously or were currently not attending school. The research also spoke with parents and services across the education, health, youth justice and family support sectors in order to comprehend fully school attendance in Limerick.

Over the two-year development stages of this multi-agency school attendance promotion collaboration local stakeholders discussed, consulted, reviewed and agreed which resources would provide the best supports for children, young people, their families and those working to support them. This cohesive approach exemplifies the CYPSC model of interagency working and utilised CYPSC Healthy Ireland Funding as a key child and youth well-being resource that enabled the production of quality, locally specific and practical guides for practitioners, parents and the community of service providers.  These Limerick resources are available to view and download here and include 

The dissemination and sharing of these school attendance promoting resources is a key part of Limerick's strategy.  The Limerick School Attendance Conference was the first step in that process.   

Dr Katriona O’Sullivan provided a key note address at the conference emphasising the capability of all children and young people to succeed in education given the right supports and encouragement.  Limerick Peer Traveller Researchers presented their findings from their project called Giving Our Children a Voice.  There was a panel discussion on 'Applying a Trauma-Informed Lens to School Attendance Problems' and an input from Empowering People in Care (EPIC) on the experience of young people in care in the education system.

The standout moment of the conference came from three young actors who partnered with Dr. Michael Finneran, Head of the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, and with the research report authors, to bring to life in words and action the stories of young people that participated in the Limerick research.  This was a live performance and a creative and incredibly effective method of communicating to the conference attendees the research findings. 

Aiding all of this school attendance promotion endeavour an online directory of child, youth  and family services was launched and is available at www.limerickservices.ie. This directory will assist Limerick's dedicated workforce and Limerick's families to know what services are available in Limerick for children and young people. 

Aisling O’Neill, Tusla Area Manager, and Chairperson of Limerick CYPSC acknowledged the important interagency working that takes place in Limerick and noted that 

“Research has shown again and again that regular school attendance is vital in helping children and young people get the best possible start in life. It lays the foundation for developing good social skills, building relationships, and achieving success later in life.

“Children and young people who attend school regularly are more likely to stay in school and achieve better educational outcomes. The resources launched today will provide a better understanding of barriers to school attendance; not only for our colleagues working in education and in childcare but for parents also.”

The School Attendance Conference, the research report and the resources for parents, educators and practitioners were supported by a multiagency Working Group of the Limerick CYPSC Education Sub-Group. Membership includes TESS, Tusla PPFS, NEPS, HSE Disability, Primary Care Psychology, Youth Reach, Youth Diversion Projects (Limerick Youth Service and Foróige), An Garda Síochána, Southill Hub, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Barnardos and University of Limerick Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice (REPPP).  All of these services are united in recognising school attendance problems as a salient issue and have come together to respond together.