Support in place for Donegal children and families preparing for return to school

‘This year’s back-to-school experience will be like no other’ – ISPCC Childline Director of Services

Child at school

ISPCC Childline is supporting children, parents and carers through the return to primary school

ISPCC Childline has welcomed the announcement of plans for children’s return to school later this month in County Donegal and across the country.

The organisation has outlined details of support for parents, carers, children and young people preparing for the transition back to the classroom.

ISPCC Childline provides a range of services directly to children, young people and families in Ireland, including the Childline listening service. It experienced a surge in demand for support when schools across the country first closed in March as a result of restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

ISPCC Childline Director of Services Caroline O’Sullivan said: “Children and young people’s lives in Donegal and across the world have been turned upside down this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. School is a sanctuary to many – it is not only where they learn, but also often the place where they make and meet friends and access support. When they return later this month, however, it will be over five months since they will have been in classrooms. This year’s ‘back-to-school’ experience will be like no other.

“Children, young people, parents and carers will face challenges over the months ahead as Ireland emerges from this difficult time. Enhancing our capacity to cope with change and strengthening our resilience – often referred to as the ability to ‘bounce back’ – will be important for us all. ISPCC Childline works to support, empower and strengthen children and young people’s resilience to enable them to live their best possible lives and to cope with any challenges which come their way.”

Childline answered over 72,000 online contacts, calls and texts from children and young people in Donegal and across Ireland between the week in which schools closed in March and the last week in June. Many of those who contacted the service did so to talk about how they were anxious to return to school, missed their friends and daily routines and worried about exams and related issues.

According to Childline, themes which will be of key importance to families preparing for the return to primary school include building resilience, communicating clearly, seeking and accepting support and enhancing capacity to cope.

The development of these personal resources will be central to free ‘Transition Back to School’ webinars. ISPCC Childline will deliver this service to parents, carers, children and young people on Monday, August 17 and Tuesday, August 18.

Ms O’Sullivan said: “We will share our services’ insight into strengthening children and young people’s resilience to help them cope with change – and, in this case, with the transition back to the school environment following over five months of closure.”

Parents and carers are invited to attend a free one-hour webinar event on Monday evening, August 17, from 7.30pm. They can then attend a follow-up session with their child, if they are an incoming 5th or 6th class pupil, on Tuesday evening, August 18, from 7.30pm. 

Places are limited and early registration is advised. Anyone who wishes to take part can register at ispcc.ie 

The organisation will also extend the hours of its Support Line service for three weeks from Monday, August 17 to Friday September 4, making the service available to parents, carers and members of the public from 9am to 5pm each day. The ISPCC Childline Support Line provides information, advice and emotional support in relation to children’s welfare and wellbeing. Details of the service are updated daily and can be accessed at ispcc.ie/ispcc-support-line.”

Support and information content to assist with the transition back to school will also be made available to parents and carers online at ispcc.ie and to children and young people at Childline.ie

Always there for children and young people

“Childline will be here for every child and young person in Ireland, by phone, online chat and text, every day and night, as they prepare for the return to school and always,” said Ms O’Sullivan. 

Any child or young person can reach Childline by calling 1800 66 66 66, chatting online at Childline.ie or texting to 50101. Further support and information content, around returning to school and other issues, is also available at Childline.ie

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