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SVP dealing with up to 300 calls a day from parents concerned about back-to-school costs

The charity said it took approximately 250 to 300 calls per day from parents last week.

Image: Shutterstock/smolaw

ST VINCENT DE Paul has reported a 4% increase in the number of families looking for help with back-to-school costs this summer. 

As the school year approaches, the charity said it received approximately 250 to 300 calls per day from parents last week. 

Last year, SVP reported a 20% increase in the number of families looking for assistance.

An increase in Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for 2019 has “lifted some of the pressure on struggling families” for 2019. 

However, is added “greater investment in the education system” could help lift remaining barriers for families. 

The charity has renewed its call to make school books free across all primary and secondary schools and end voluntary contributions for non-fee paying primary and secondary schools.

Ahead of Budget 2020, the charity is calling for a €20 million investment from the government to provide free books to primary school children.

“If school books were free, it would significantly reduce the financial stress placed on parents and ensure that all pupils, irrespective of the household income, could access the educational resources required to participate and progress with their education,” SVP Policy Officer Marcella Stakem said. 

“The same benefits would apply by eliminating voluntary contributions,” she added. 

Earlier this month, charity Barnardos reported that many parents are forced to forgo paying bills and cut back on other costs to meet the costs of getting their children ready to return to school in September.

According to Barnardos annual School Costs Survey, 42% of primary school parents and 47% of secondary school parents are forced to cut back or not pay bills to cover back-to-school costs.

8% of primary and 14% of secondary school parents are forced to borrow money to cover school costs, the survey found. 

The survey of just over 1,400 parents across the country found that the basic cost of sending a child to school remains substantial across primary and secondary. 

One anonymous parent who took part in the study said: “I am not able to budget out our regular household income to pay for my child going to school and will need to borrow money from [named money lending company] and from the credit union to help me prepare her for secondary school.” 

Another parent said: “I’ve been buying school supplies and uniform pieces since March to ensure I have everything for September.”

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