THERE has been a significant increase in the number of Limerick parents and guardians being summoned to court by child protection agency Tusla for repeated absences of children from school.
In the first eight months of this year, Tusla has issued 103 summonses, 66 cases involving primary students and 37 involving secondary students.
According to figures released to the Sunday Independent, 45 per cent of the cases related to just two counties — with 25 summonses issued in Galway and another 21 cases in Limerick.
The figures are sharply up from 2021, when there were just 19 summonses – 16 of them relating to Limerick and Kerry.
40 summonses were issued in 2020, with 27 of them in Galway and Limerick.
The number of summonses in 2021 and 2020 dropped during the Covid pandemic when home-schooling arrangements and restrictions around attending school were in place.
A Tusla spokeswoman said that legislation required schools to inform them about students who have missed more than 20 school days in a single academic year.
The agency employs educational welfare officers to provide support and advice to parents and schools and to follow up on absences. These officers work with families and children in a child-centred way to overcome barriers to their school attendance,” the spokeswoman explained.
She added that it was only in cases where all supportive interventions had been “exhausted” that legal action was instituted.