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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 596-619
 Header Item Childcare Qualifications
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Childcare Services Staff
 Header Item Childcare Services Regulation
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Funding
 Header Item Affordable Childcare Scheme
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Staff
 Header Item Ministerial Responsibilities
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item National Youth Work Advisory Committee
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Investigations
 Header Item Children in Care

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 596-619

Questions Nos. 596 to 599, inclusive, answered with Question No. 577.

Childcare Qualifications

 600. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if there is a shorter add-on course to obtain a major award in childcare rather than starting the course from the beginning for persons who have already achieved a component certificate in level-six childcare so their employer can be awarded the higher capitation rate for the ECCE programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [42866/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department provides a qualifications assessment process for the Early Years sector, however my Department is not an awarding body nor an education provider.

If people are unsure about the level of their award, or hold a component certificate for a further education award, they can contact Quality and Qualifications Ireland, QQI, who are the arbiter of award standards in Ireland for assistance in determining the status of their qualification.

My Department's role is to provide adjudication as to whether or not a qualification meets the minimum regulatory standard for the Early Years sector, or whether a qualification is suitable for a room leader at either standard or higher capitation level within the ECCE programme. My Department's remit only extends to what is required for its programmes and what is required to meet the regulatory minimum for the Early Years sector.

Many third-level education providers (Institutes of Technology, Universities, and some private education providers) have degree-level programmes in Early Childhood Care and Education available, and all approved programmes are on a published list, which is available for view on my Department's website.

I understand that some third-level providers will accept further education awards for access to degree programmes, but it is recommended that individuals check with specific third-level education providers as to their terms of access.

My Department is not in a position to recommend one third-level programme over another..

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 601. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the objectives of the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes; the actions that will be taken as a result of the commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42604/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters was established by Government in 2015. Its objective is to provide a full account of what happened to women and children in these homes during the period 1922 to 1998. It is investigating the issues of significant public concern as set out in its terms of reference (S.I. 57 of 2015). The Commission is required to address seven specific questions on the practices and procedures relating to the care, welfare, entry arrangements and exit pathways for the women and children who were residents of these institutions. The appropriate actions to be taken will be determined following consideration of the final reports to be produced by the Commission at the conclusion of its work. .

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 602. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the location of the records for St. Patrick's mother and baby home, Navan Road, of births, deaths, procedural matters, State involvement and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42605/17]

 603. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the location of the burial of the babies who died at St. Patrick's mother and baby home, Navan Road; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42606/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 602 and 603 together.

As I have previously stated to the Deputy, my Department does not hold any records from the institution known as St. Patrick's Mother and Baby Home. A cohort of files from this former institution are held by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and may be accessed by relevant parties through their Information and Tracing Services. In relation to birth and death records from St. Patrick's, the General Register Office is the central civil repository for records relating to births and deaths in Ireland.

As the Deputy may be aware, St. Patrick's Mother and Baby Home is one of the institutions currently being investigated by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters. The Commission is required to address seven specific areas which include areas that the Deputy has raised. As part of its terms of reference, the Commission is directed to investigate and to make a report on burial arrangements in respect of persons who were resident in these institutions. In the course of investigating these matters, the Commission will identify the sources of information and records most relevant to these issues..

Childcare Services Staff

 604. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to introduce a scheme, similar to the recently announced scheme whereby newly qualified accountants will receive a salary of almost €18,000, funded by Solas to fund newly qualified early years teachers to work in the sector in view of the serious staffing crisis in that sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42639/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I assume that this refers to the national apprenticeship system.  In newer apprenticeships, such as the one referenced by the Deputy, Solas or the Higher Education Authority meet the running costs and delivery of the off-the-job training element, but the employer pays the apprentice throughout the period of the apprenticeship, both on and off the job.   

This scheme is under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills. I understand that the Apprenticeship Council issued a call for proposals for new apprenticeships in the Summer and that proposals received are currently under consideration in a process of evaluation under their auspices.  The Council expects to report on the results of the call to the Minister for Education and Skills in November, with details of the proposals moving to development being announced by the Minister very shortly thereafter.

Currently, the commitment by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Skills is to deliver a new workforce plan for the Early Years sector by the first quarter of 2018 (School Age Childcare Report). In this regard, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has agreed to write a sectoral report on early childhood education and care, ECEC, workforce. As part of this work, the Secretariat to the Expert Group based in DBEI, has issued an RFT for a Skills Forecast for this Workforce Plan.  The aim of this project is to examine the impact of a rapidly changing policy and practice landscape in the childcare sector in Ireland on future skills requirements so that Government can ensure that a high-quality workforce is in place over the next decade..

Childcare Services Regulation

 605. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the consequences facing crèches found to be non-compliant with the legislative requirement to only hire persons with a minimum FETAC level five; if conditions will be attached to their registration; if so, the conditions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42640/17]

: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I can confirm that on inspection a service which employs staff without the relevant qualifications will be found non compliant with Regulation 9(4). A condition will be attached to that service that all staff working directly with children must have the relevant qualification and the registered provider is afforded the opportunity to make representations as to how this will be addressed. Each representation is assessed on its own merits on a case-by-case basis..

Family Resource Centres

 606. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to reinstate funds to a centre (details supplied); and the cost of reinstating funding. [42647/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I understand that the Deputy's question pertains to the 2016 Childcare Regulations, which have impacted on the eligibility of Community Employment participants active within some childcare service providers.

Some €1 million in funding has been made available to services that identify themselves as being impacted by staff eligibility changes within the 2016 Regulations. In order to avail of this funding, applicant services are required to satisfy the requirements of a standardised assessment framework. This framework is designed to ensure exchequer funds are being directed to providers facing significant financial challenges in respect of these regulatory changes, and who are therefore in the greatest need of once-off emergency funding from the exchequer.

I can confirm the service in question has applied for this stream of funding. However, during the assessment process it was identified that the service had achieved a considerable financial surplus over the preceding year. The specified application was therefore deemed not to have met all of the qualifying criteria, and my Department has therefore contacted the service informing them of the outcome of this assessment and offering them the opportunity to respond. My Department has received a response, and intends to review and revert regarding this response in due course.

Access to this stream of funding is strictly on condition of satisfying the assessment process. No funds in this respect have been deducted from the service in question, and my Department therefore cannot comment regarding reinstatement of same..

Youth Services Funding

 607. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if additional funding for an organisation (details supplied) will be approved. [42650/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

In 2017, €57.4 million has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services, an increase of €5.5 million on 2016. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services.

Earlier this year, I was pleased to approve funding of €800,000 for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new challenges arising from population increases. This additional investment is being provided in regions of the country where there is a pressing need for services to meet the needs of young people.

Each of the 16 Education and Training Boards, including Laois and Offaly ETB, was invited to nominate locations within their catchment areas for the establishment of new services and to nominate a project or service to be considered for augmentation. In total, 28 applications for new services were received, including an application for a new service for Laois.

Based on the recommendations of a specially convened appraisal committee, and given the very limited resources available for the scheme, I approved the establishment of nine new targeted youth services across the country and the expansion of a further seven to respond to new demand from increased population and needs of young people.

The application in respect of Laois was, unfortunately, not successful on this occasion. Should further monies be made available to my Department in the coming years, it is my intention to invite Education and Training Boards to nominate locations for the establishment of new services..

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

 608. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if the budget allocation for early childhood education will be increased by a minimum of €250 million each year over the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42675/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department continues to invest significant resources in the early years sector. In Budget 2017, I secured a 35% increase in childcare funding, which was additional to a similar 35% increase in Budget 2016. These increases reflect the emphasis being placed on developing a quality service with appropriately supported staff.

Although my Department has been successful in securing additional funding for this sector over the past two budgets, as outlined above, I do acknowledge that much more must be done if we are truly to have affordable, accessible, quality childcare and continue to improve both the affordability and quality of childcare. To this end, I am currently engaged with my Government colleagues with a view to securing additional investment for the childcare sector in Budget 2018.

Although it is my intention to continue to pursue further increases in investment in the childcare sector going forward, it would be premature at this juncture to speculate as to what fiscal space might be available in the budgetary years 2019-22 to secure this..

Affordable Childcare Scheme

 609. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on the removal of the 15-hour standard hours subsidy proposal from the development of the affordable childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42677/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There are no plans in place to remove the proposed 15-hour standard hours subsidy from the Affordable Childcare Scheme. I want to ensure a balanced approach to eligibility for childcare subsidies under the Affordable Childcare Scheme. While a family’s income will determine the amount of subsidy the family will qualify for, the parents’ participation in work or training will determine the number of hours of subsidy available. When parents are engaged in work (including part-time work and labour market activation programmes) or in education or training, they will be eligible for an enhanced subsidy of up to 40 hours per week. When parents are not in work or training, childcare will be subsidised on a standard basis of up to 15 hours per week. I believe that this is a reasonable approach that reflects a balance of the labour market and child development objectives that will underpin the new scheme.

It will mean that this Scheme is open – albeit for standard hours rather than enhanced hours – to parents who are not taking part in work or training, but who choose to avail of up to 15 hours of childcare per week. In the case of school-going children, the child development objectives are met through school-going hours and, as such, the 15 standard hours of childcare applies to non-term time. .

Early Childhood Care and Education

 610. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will publish the national early years strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42682/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People contains a commitment to produce Ireland’s first-ever National Early Years Strategy. The intention is to deliver a cross-cutting strategy which will take a joined-up, whole-of-Government approach to the issue of supporting children and their families during the early years, zero to six years of age. The drafting of the National Early Years Strategy is being advanced. An Open Policy Debate was held with key stakeholders last December, and this has informed the strategy development greatly. Bilateral meetings with key government departments have taken place. Development of the Strategy remains a priority for me and for my Department, and I will move to publish the Strategy as soon as possible after it is completed.

Early Childhood Care and Education Staff

 611. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on allocating €5 million to increase the 5% non-contact time for core staff being built into the proposed new affordable childcare scheme to 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42690/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Non-Contact Time payment for administrative and non-face-to-face work with children was first introduced as a measure in Budget 2017.

The purpose of the payment was to contribute toward the costs of the wide range of work carried out by providers, particularly the additional administration involved in changes to the childcare schemes in 2016-17, including the expansion of the ECCE scheme to include three intake points and the More Affordable Childcare measures introduced in September 2017. By the end of 2017, providers will have received a total of approximately €18 million to assist with administration and non-contact costs associated with the schemes.

The Independent Review of Costs of Quality Childcare will examine the cost of providing quality childcare, including the cost of non-contact and administrative work. The review should therefore provide a strong evidence base which can inform future decisions in relation to funding levels for programme supports. The proposed affordable childcare scheme, ACS, subsidies and cost model for such programme supports are in development and will be examined further in the light of the findings of the review. As an update on Independent Review of Costs of Quality Childcare, I can report that consultants have been appointed and the review is set to be completed in 2018..

Ministerial Responsibilities

 612. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the powers she has delegated to the Ministers of State in her Department; the date on which such delegation was made; if there were changes in powers delegated relative to the situation in place prior to 14 June 2017; if so, the details of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42774/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There are no Ministers of State assigned to my Department.

Family Resource Centres

 613. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if funding will be made available to family resource centres that require capital for infrastructural improvements. [42806/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There are over 100 Family Resource Centres, FRCs, currently in receipt of funding from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Tusla provides funding to the centres under an annual Agreement. This funding is provided by way of a contribution towards the running costs of the centres. The 2017 Tusla allocation to FRCs is €13.512 million.

FRCs, funded by Tusla, provide a range of universal and targeted services and development opportunities that address the needs of vulnerable children and families. In seeking to improve outcomes and wellbeing for children and young people, Tusla must ensure that it makes the most efficient use of its resources in a way that is efficient, equitable, proportionate and sustainable.

While Tusla annual funding seeks to assist Centres in their day-to-day activities, additional once-off funding of €1.422 million was provided to Family Resource Centres in 2016 in order to assist in the upgrade of equipment and infrastructure.

The precise details of funding available to Family Resource Centres next year will be considered by Tusla in developing its 2018 Business Plan, based on the Performance Statement, which I as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will issue later this year..

Children in Care

 614. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children's residential centres by county; and the amount each centre has cost in each of the years 2011 to 2016, in tabular form. [42821/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The latest figures from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, indicates that, at the end of July 2017, there were 6,272 children in care. Of these, 358 (6%) were in a residential placement, of whom 209 were in a private residential centre run by a private body.

  Children should be placed in a residential setting only when they have an identified need that can be met by this service or for an intensive assessment or provision of specialist services. In general, these centres are based in domestic-style homes in the community, and are staffed by social care workers to attend to the needs of the child. Specialist supports are also made available, as needed, and many centres have specialist skillsets and therapeutic modalities.

  Tusla does not collate data on residential care centres by county but has provided the following information on the number of residential care centres by region for the years 2014-16. Please note that data can only be provided since the establishment of Tusla in 2014. Payments to an organisation are based on the number of children in a centre or additionally, on the particular needs of individual children.

  Number of Residential Care Centres by region 2014-2016

Year Dublin Mid Leinster Dublin North East South West Total
Voluntary Residential Care Centres
2014 9 13 6 0 28
2015 9 13 5 0 27
2016 9 13 4 0 26
Statutory Residential Care Centres
2014 10 13 18 6 47
2015 9 13 15 5 42
2016 8 13 14 4 39
Private Residential Care Centres
2014 20 17 15 11 63
2015 19 21 21 12 73
2016 22 25 25 11 83


  Tusla has provided the following information on payments made to Residential Centres per year for 2014-16.

Funding Provided to Residential Centres 2014-2016  
Organisation / Centre Name Region Organisation Type 2014

2015

2016

Private Supplier 1 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Private 296,562 938,575 887,950
Private Supplier 2 Dublin North East - (4 centres) Private 1,329,216 3,106,957 2,960,558
Private Supplier 3 West (2 centres)

South (1 centre)
Private 4,395,240 13,291,170 13,433,520
Private Supplier 4 West (1 centre) Private   2,766,666 3,350,000
Private Supplier 5 South (6 centres)

Dublin North East - (4 centres)
Private 2,284,213 6,900,991 6,923,006
Private Supplier 6 Dublin North East - (2 centres) Private 491,788 1,416,364 1,457,723
Private Supplier 7 Dublin North East - (1 centre)

Dublin Mid Leinster - (7 centres)

South (2 centres)
Private 1,756,743 4,746,344 5,471,865
Private Supplier 8 West (6 centres) Private 797,063 2,446,054 2,790,884
Private Supplier 9 Dublin Mid Leinster - (1 centre) Private     67,482
Private Supplier 10 South - (1 centre) Private 284,571 703,929 738,643
Private Supplier 11 Dublin Mid Leinster - (1 centre) Private 469,932 929,115 759,004
Private Supplier 12 Dublin Mid Leinster - (3 centres) Private   2,766,666 3,350,000
Private Supplier 13 Dublin Mid Leinster - (1 centre)

Dublin North East - (2 centres)

South (3 centres)
Private 2,111,027 6,390,180 6,450,516
Private Supplier 14 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Private 295,675 842,827 873,543
Private Supplier 15 Dublin Mid Leinster

(1 centre)
Private 167,427 655,501 690,004
Private Supplier 16 Dublin Mid Leinster (3 centres) Private   146,989 474,238
Private Supplier 17 Dublin Mid Leinster - (4 centres)

South (9 centres)

West (1 centre)
Private     9,130,541
Private Supplier 18 Dublin North East (2 centres) Private 634,836 1,714,443 1,653,093
Private Supplier 19 Dublin North East (4 centres)

Dublin Mid Leinster (1 centre)
Private 462,811 1,016,732 1,843,364
Private Supplier 20 South (2 centres) Private 390,639 1,417,025 1,744,134
Private Supplier 21 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Private 437,128 1,207,994 1,400,819
Private Supplier 22 Dublin North East (4 centres) Private 3,240,741 6,863,377 5,844,498
Tusla Services Dublin North East (12 centres) Statutory 10,800,643 10,727,597 12,142,050
Tusla Services Dublin Mid Leinster (8 centres) Statutory 7,880,639 9,178,452 9,018,600
Tusla Services South (11 centres) Statutory 14,842,102 16,080,166 15,178,584
Tusla Services West (4 centres) Statutory 4,150,892 4,094,189 3,978,976
Tusla Services (Special Care) National (3 centres) Statutory 12,301,991 12,502,904 11,329,680
Voluntary Supplier 1 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Voluntary 1,006,795 1,130,160 1,047,742
Voluntary Supplier 2 Dublin North East - (2 centres) Voluntary 1,430,771 1,754,217 1,526,992
Voluntary Supplier 3 Dublin North East - (2 centres) Voluntary 1,348,748 1,236,351 1,351,584
Voluntary Supplier 4 South - (1 centre) Voluntary 604,508 646,748 658,302
Voluntary Supplier 5 Dublin Mid Leinster- (2 centres) Voluntary 1,675,116 1,670,933 1,670,933
Voluntary Supplier 6 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Voluntary 698,346 701,696 729,643
Voluntary Supplier 7 Dublin Mid Leinster - (1 centre) Voluntary   679,122 868,923
Voluntary Supplier 8 Dublin North East - (4 centres) Voluntary 1,744,599 2,225,029 2,317,300
Voluntary Supplier 9 Dublin North East - (2 centres) Voluntary 1,363,429 1,426,964 1,403,868
Voluntary Supplier 10 Dublin Mid Leinster - (1 centre) Voluntary 1,842,416 1,978,271 1,978,271
Voluntary Supplier 11 South - (1 centre) Voluntary 2,500,000 1,859,780 1,859,780
Voluntary Supplier 12 Dublin North East - (1 centre) Voluntary 498,203 575,418 535,152
Voluntary Supplier 13 Dublin Mid Leinster (2 centres) Voluntary 1,448,158 1,479,170 1,479,170
Voluntary Supplier 14 Dublin Mid Leinster (2 centres) Voluntary 1,751,972 1,759,195 1,759,195

Child Protection

 615. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her Department is adequately resourced to protect children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42822/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am committed to the protection and welfare of children and believe that there is a moral duty on Government and on society to work together to protect children and to ensure their safety. Within the limits of the budgetary process, I have sought to maximise the resources available for this important work and the effectiveness in the deployment of these resources.

  From my Department’s perspective, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. Any child who resides in Ireland and who is not receiving adequate care and protection can be received into the care of the State if that is deemed to be the appropriate action required. Tusla is required under the 1991 Act to investigate allegations of abuse, including historical abuse, and to engage with An Garda Síochána where appropriate. Tusla has a key role in supporting some of the most vulnerable children and young people in State care. My Department provides funding for Tusla. In 2017, it has been allocated exchequer funding of €713 million, representing an increase of €37 million on 2016. Tusla provides a comprehensive range of services and supports for vulnerable children and families. These include child welfare and protection, including family support; educational welfare; pre-school inspection and domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. These services and supports are provided by Social Workers, Educational Welfare Officers, and Early Years Inspectors. The precise level of funding available to services for children next year will be considered by Tusla in developing its 2018 Business Plan, based on the Performance Statement, which I as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will issue later this year.

National Youth Work Advisory Committee

 616. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when the Youth Advisory Council last met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42881/17]

 620. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the reason the national youth advisory body has not been properly constituted; her plans for same; the position regarding the involvement of the voluntary youth sector in the work of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42946/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 616 and 620 together.

  Sections 17 and 18 of the Youth Work Act 2001 provide for the appointment of a National Youth Work Advisory Committee. The Committee had an advisory and consultative role to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in matters to do with youth work, including the coordination of youth work programmes and services. In line with these provisions, a new National Youth Work Advisory Committee was appointed by the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with a term of office of one year with effect from 28 January 2013. The Committee had its final meeting on 26 November 2013. The Committee continued to work with my Department and assisted with the development of the new National Youth Strategy, in particular in identifying in what ways the youth work sector can contribute to shared policy objectives for young people.

  The National Youth Strategy 2015-2020 was published in 2015. The implementation structures established by my Department under Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, BOBF, the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People oversee the roll out of the National Youth Strategy. There is no doubt that the youth work services have a significant contribution to make to realise the goals of the National Youth Strategy as part of a cross-sectoral, whole-of-society approach to supporting young people in their everyday lives. For this reason, the key youth sector interests are represented on the structures established by my Department to support the implementation of Better Outcomes Brighter Futures. At national level, representatives of the voluntary youth services have been appointed to the Advisory Council of BOBF. At local level, youth sector representatives participate in the Children and Young People’s Services Committees. Key Government departments and agencies that have an interest in children and young people and that had served on the National Youth Work Advisory Committee are represented on the Children and Young People’s Policy Consortium and on the Sponsors Group that have been established under Better Outcomes Brighter Futures to drive the effective implementation of the policy framework.

  There have been other significant policy and legislative developments that are relevant to the provision of youth services and the role of the National Youth Work Advisory Committee since the 2001 Act was passed. These include the introduction of the Education and Training Boards Act 2013 which, inter alia, provides for a statutory function for Education and Training Boards in supporting the provision and assessment of youth work services at local level. The National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making 2015-2020, which was published by my Department in June, 2015 is particularly relevant. I am deeply committed to ensuring that young people are involved in the preparation, planning and implementation of policies that impact on their lives.

  In addition, my Department is fully committed to the reform of the many youth funding schemes. The Deputy will be aware that a number of targeted funding schemes supporting youth services were the subject of a Value for Money and Policy Review in 2014. The review made a number of recommendations for the future operation of the youth schemes and their development in the years ahead. Work on the development of a new funding scheme has been prioritised by my Department and consultations with youth services are continuing with a view to introducing the new youth funding programme in line with the review. The Deputy will also be aware that my Department has commenced a review of the Youth Service Grant Scheme. This review is intended to enhance its accountability, transparency and outcome measurement. It is also seeking to determine how best to meet the ever evolving needs of young people.

  My Department works closely with the youth work sector, the voluntary youth services, the Education and Training Boards, other government departments and agencies, and consults with young people themselves in the development and delivery of policies and services for children and young people.

  For the above reasons, it is not my intention to reconvene the National Youth Work Advisory Committee while the reform process is ongoing. Given the seismic changes which have occurred over the past sixteen years, my Department will be revisiting the Youth Work Act, 2001 on the conclusion of the reform process, to ensure that it fully articulates the needs of young people in Ireland.

Youth Services

 617. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of ETBs that have an integrated youth services programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42882/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla has advised that a total of 41 School Completion Programme staff are employed directly by Education and Training Boards. An approximate further 30 School Completion Programmes receive administrative employment supports from Education and Training Boards.

Child and Family Agency Investigations

 618. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if Tusla has received correspondence from concerned parents at a national school (details supplied); if so, the status and outcome of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42883/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla has advised that it received correspondence from parents at a national school in relation to matters of concern.

  The matters were investigated in accordance with Tusla policy and an assessment was made. I can confirm that Tusla has advised that it considers the matter now closed.

Children in Care

 619. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on whether the extension of a care order is in the best interest of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [42884/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, may receive a child into care on a voluntary basis or following an application to the Courts. There are a range of orders provided for under the Child Care Act 1991, as amended. Decisions on the variation or discharge of a care order are a matter for the relevant Court, and I am not in a position to comment on these.

  The application for a care order is a serious step, and Tusla makes every effort to identify supports or actions that could act as an alternate approach. Tusla engages with parents and children in the preparation of an application for a care order, except where this is not possible or it may not be appropriate under the circumstances. The Court may seek a range of reports or the assistance of a Guardian ad litem before coming to a decision.


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