Special Needs Assistants will be allowed to work at home with children without the presence of a teacher under a new summer educational programme that has been made available for children with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The programme, normally made available to children with autism and with severe or profound disabilities, is to be expanded to include students with behavioural disorders and moderate intellectual disabilities.

It can be in-school or home-based.

A programme for all 890 DEIS schools to provide summer camps, including a numeracy and literacy programme for primary pupils and a programme of re-engagement for post-primary students, was also announced today.

The third element is a Health Service Executive led scheme that will aim to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with special needs.

Primary school pupils who are deaf or severely hard of hearing, and students who are blind or have a severe visual impairment, will also be eligible to apply for the summer special educational needs programme.

The Government said that "if possible, school transport will be provided to support the programme where appropriate".

A dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs to access summer provision is being made available on gov.ie/summerprovision.

Announcing the programmes, Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the Government was determined to support families who have felt the deepest impact from the closure of schools.

He said the special needs summer provision was a significant expansion of support for the children and families who are most in need.

"The aim is to help address the concerns that families are feeling over the loss of in-school time and learning for children with special needs and those at greatest risk of disadvantage," Mr McHugh said.

The Government has said that children's disability service managers will engage with families to identify those in most need of these supports and agree the number of sessions per week that can be provided.

It says staff in children's disability services will provide "direction and support for SNAs to deliver activity based "summer camps". The input of clinicians will ensure that activities are tailored to the needs of the children".

The programme aims to provide short respite breaks for families and help children with complex needs to begin the transition from their homes to re-engaging with school.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: "The health-led part of the programme will have the input of clinicians to ensure that activities are tailored to the needs of children and has three main goals: to provide short respite breaks for families; to facilitate children with complex needs to being the transition from their homes to re-engaging with their communities and schools; and to provide safe opportunities for the children to engage with their peers".

The HSE programme will take place in schools, "subject to availability". It will involve a number of three hour sessions per week for children and young people with complex needs.