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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1443-1460
 Header Item Family Support Services
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Adoption Records Provision
 Header Item Child Care Services Provision
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Expenditure
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1443-1460

Family Support Services

 1443. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide representation to the family resource centres on the family services committee currently being developed in acknowledgement of the vital and outstanding work that they are carrying out.  [36989/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Family Support Agency, under my Department, operates the Family Resource Centre Programme. The aim of the Family Resource Centre Programme is to combat disadvantage and improve the functioning of the family unit. There are 107 family resource centres throughout the country funded under the programme. I understand that 12 FRCs have been established in Kerry under the Family Support Agency (FSA) programme.

  The centres provide a range of services for families and groups at local level. These include information, education and training opportunities, childcare, breakfast, homework and after school clubs and services for young people at risk of substance abuse, for which funding is provided under programmes administered by several government departments and agencies. Family Resource Centres have an important role to play, in harnessing local community efforts, in support of improved outcomes for children and young people which is a key objective of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

  Since the inception in September 2010 of the Kerry Children’s Services Committee (CSC), the Kerry Network of Family Resource Centres has, in recognition of the valuable work they undertake at community level with children, young people and families, been represented on the Kerry CSC. You may also wish to note that the Kerry CSC has established 7 Working Groups: and that FRCs are at present represented and engaged in working on 3 of these working groups: Parenting & Family Learning, Youth Mental Health; Young People at Risk.

Children in Care

 1444. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of children in care with an assigned social worker in February 2011; the current number without for each; the proportion for each; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36990/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Health Service Executive (HSE) compiles monthly performance reports which include statistics in relation to children in care. These reports are published on the HSE website. The latest published report shows that there were 6,248 children in State care in June 2012. 5,772 / 92.4% of these children had an allocated social worker. In February 2011, there were 6,015 children in State care, of which 5,689 / 95% had an allocated social worker.

The allocation of a social worker is prioritised by the HSE to ensure children entering or about to leave the care system, those in a residential care placement or those experiencing a change of placement always have a social worker assigned to them. A principal social worker may decide to prioritise such cases over long term stable foster care placement where there is a temporary gap due, for example, to a social worker being unavailable because of extended leave or while a new appointment is awaited. In such situations there may already be a HSE link worker (who is also a professional social worker) supervising and supporting the foster carers and visiting the placement and the foster carers and the child should have information on who to contact should an urgent need arise.

These differences between care settings are evident from the data with much higher proportions of children in residential care (including special care and high support) having assigned social workers. Over 95% of those in residential care have social workers assigned. In general, those children in residential care tend to have higher levels of need compared to others such as those in long term foster care.

Addressing this issue is a priority for the HSE and progress has been made in recent months. Since the end of March 2012, the number of children in care without an assigned social worker has reduced from 507 to 476. This was over a period when the overall number of children in care actually increased by 46. In May 2012, 476 children or 7.6% did not have an allocated social worker. In February 2011, 326 children or 5% did not have an allocated social worker. In both January 2011 and March 2011 the percentage of children in care without a social worker was 6.3%, while previously significantly higher numbers of children in care did not have social workers assigned. As recently as 2009, for example, some 17% of children in care did not have a social worker. Of the 476 children without assigned social workers in May, 458 were in foster care or foster care with relatives.

Notwithstanding the recent improvement and the more positive position in relation to residential care, efforts are required to bring about further improvements in this area. The HSE’s 2012 National Service Plan identifies this as a priority deliverable. In this context the Government has made additional budgeting provision of €19m for child welfare and protection services compared to the funding made available last year. The funding will assist in addressing expenditure pressures from budgetary reductions made in previous years and growth and demand for services due to demographic and other factors. In overall terms, the 2012 provision is designed to support the HSE in meeting its obligations with regard to the welfare and protection of children under the Child Care Act 1991, together with a range of priorities set out in the HSE National Service Plan for 2012. As mentioned, these priorities include improvement in relation to a reduction in the numbers of children in care without an assigned social worker.

My Department will continue to work closely with the HSE to ensure that further progress is made over the remainder of the year in the key priorities set out in the National Service Plan.

Proposed Legislation

 1445. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when she expects to publish the Children First legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36991/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy will be aware that I published the Heads of the Children First Bill in April 2012. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that organisations and professionals who work with children have a statutory responsibility to report reasonable concerns about the abuse or neglect of children in their care to the HSE Child and Family Services. I asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to consider the Heads of the Children First Bill and make recommendations and I received their comprehensive Report in July. I wish to thank the Committee for its work on this matter. My Department is currently considering the recommendations of the Joint Committee.

Departmental Staff Data

 1446. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of individual, not WTE, social workers in February 2011; the number now; the number expected to be provided by the end of the year; the proportion for each; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36992/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The HSE compiles a monthly census of employment in the public health and social care sector. The figures indicate that the number of individual social workers employed in the Children and Families Service area of the HSE was 1,325 in February 2011 and 1,411 at the end of July 2012, which is the latest month for which data is available.

The National Employment Monitoring Unit within the HSE has advised that work is ongoing with regard to disaggregating the Children and Families resource base from the HSE as part of the process of establishing the new Child and Family Support Agency next year. Consequently the number of social workers assigned to the Children and Families Service area may change as the mapping/classification of posts into care groups is further refined between now and year end.

Departmental Staff Data

 1447. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of WTE social workers in February 2011; the number now; the number expected to be provided by the end of the year; the proportion for each; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36993/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The HSE compiles a monthly census of employment in the public health and social care sector. The figures indicate that the number of WTE social workers employed in the Children and Families Service area of the HSE was 1231 in February 2011 and 1,300 at the end of July 2012, which is the latest month for which data is available.

The National Employment Monitoring Unit within the HSE has advised that work is ongoing with regard to disaggregating the Children and Families resource base from the HSE as part of the process of establishing the new Child and Family Support Agency next year. Consequently the number of social workers assigned to the Children and Families Service area may change as the mapping/classification of posts into care groups is further refined between now and year end.

Adoption Records Provision

 1448. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the average waiting time at present for inter-country adoptions; how this compares to previous years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36995/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Adoption Act, 2010, which was commenced on 1st November 2010, coincided with Ireland's formal ratification of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Adoption Authority has been proactive in developing relationships with its Hague counterparts around the world and this will continue. The building of such relationships will help to bring greater clarity to the intercountry adoption process generally, including the timescales involved for adopting from different countries.

The HSE has advised that waiting times for intercountry adoption assessments have reduced considerably across the country. According to the HSE the waiting time for assessments varies around the country and, in general, the maximum waiting time is 12 months. The Adoption Authority informs me that waiting times between the sending of an adoption application pack and the actual completion of an adoption in sending countries may vary greatly and may extend to as much as 3 years or more in some cases. The Adoption Authority has no influence with regard to the waiting times involved in these sending countries. Furthermore, some jurisdictions require a two stage adoption process which entails post-placement reports being submitted during an initial period of guardianship before an adoption is approved and finalised by the AAI.

Child Care Services Provision

 1449. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to introduce a Scandinavian system of child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [36996/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Government currently supports the provision of early childhood care and education through three support programmes - the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme and the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme. These programmes are administered by my Department.

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. About 67,000 children are expected to avail of the free pre-school provision in the school year 2012-2013 and funding of approximately €176 million is being provided to support the programme. It is my objective to incrementally develop the ECCE programme over the term of this Government as resources permit. A key element of this is the implementation of the Workforce Development Plan by the Early Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, which is co-located in my Department.

Officials from my Department worked closely with the Department of Education and Skills in the development of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, which was launched last year. My Department is committed to incentivising the early years sector to acquire additional skills in oral language competency development for young children once this minimum qualification requirements of the ECCE programme have been met.

Annual funding is also provided to support the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which supports community-based childcare services by enabling them to provide childcare at reduced rates to disadvantaged and low income families, and the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which provides €145 towards the weekly cost of full time childcare places to participating childcare services for qualifying FÁS and VEC students for the duration of their course. These programmes represent an annual investment in the region of €64 million.

Future developments relating to early years care and education are being considered as part of the preparation of the new National Early Years Strategy 2012. This new Strategy will cover a range of issues affecting children in their first years of life.

Departmental Bodies

 1450. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of agencies, authorities, boards, committees, working groups, tribunals, council services, task forces, agencies or other quangos set up by her Department since February 2011; the number abolished since then; the extra cost of quangos which were established; the savings from the abolition of quangos; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37240/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department was formally established on the 2nd of June 2011 and has not established any quangos. Below are the number of various advisory groups established since coming to office:

  Established

A Working Group to Review the National Educational Welfare Board in the context of the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency. A Working Group to Review the School Completion Programme. The Expert Advisory Group to the Early Year's Strategy. Children Services Committees Steering Group. Children Services Committees in Wicklow, Waterford, South Tipperary and Meath. The Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency. The Children First Implementation Group.

  The Local Authorities have also established a National Local Authority Play and Recreation Network in conjunction with my Department.

  Abolished

  The Task Force's work was completed upon publication of its Final Report, in July 2012.

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

 1451. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the estimated cost of each quango in her Department; the amount expected to be saved from the mergers of quangos in her Department; the basis for this figure; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37256/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy might note that there are four statutory agencies currently under the operational remit of my Department that are funded by the Exchequer and these include the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Family Support Agency, the National Educational Welfare Board and the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. There are no quasi autonomous non-governmental organisations in receipt of funds from my Department.

Job Creation

 1452. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of new jobs created by her Department as a result of the jobs initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37272/12]

 1453. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of new jobs created by her Department as a result of the action plan on jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37288/12]

 1454. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of new jobs created by her Department as a result of budget 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37304/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 1452 to 1454, inclusive, together.

My Department supports the Governments labour-market activation policies through provision of the Childcare Education & Training Support (CETS) programme, which provide significantly-subsidised childcare place for children of parents who are on a qualifying FAS or VEC course.

In line with Action 1.40 of the Action plan for Job, I can confirm that as part of the preparation of the Children and Young People’s Policy Framework, my Department will examine the potential contribution youth work to the employability of Young People including supporting the development of the skills needed by enterprises. Work in this area will be further informed by my Department’s preparations for Ireland’s EU Presidency which will focus on the contribution of youth work to young people’s development and well-being. Related to this, I will seek to ensure that the contribution of the youth sector to the achieving the goals of Europe 2020 is maximised. My Department is currently exploring options in this regard including a proposal to host a high-level peer learning roundtable on Youth Work and its contribution to of youth work to employability of Young People.

Departmental Expenditure

 1455. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the total amount spent on taxis by her Department since February 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37320/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald A total of €6,100.74 has been spent on the use of taxis for official business since my Department was established in June 2011. While every effort is made to avoid the use of taxis there occasions where their use is warranted. Control procedures are in place and the use and expenditure on taxis is monitored closely.

Departmental Staff Data

 1456. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of press officers in her Department; the number of press officers in each agency under her auspices; the total cost of press officers in her Department and in agencies under her auspices; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37336/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department currently has one person filling the role of Press Officer and she is employed on the Higher Executive Officer salary scale which runs from €46,081 to €58,294 per annum. I understand that the National Educational Welfare Board employs a Communications Manager which encompasses the role of Press Officer and this is again on the Higher Executive Officer salary scale. There are no specific press officer responsibilities assigned to individuals at the Family Support Agency, the Adoption Authority of Ireland or the Children's Detention Schools. I understand that the Office of the Ombudsman for Children will provide the information requested directly to the Deputy.

Appointments to State Boards

 1457. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the total number of board appointees she has nominated since she came to office; the names, salaries and expenses of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37352/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I would like to inform the Deputy there are four agencies which are funded by the Exchequer through my Department's Vote. These are the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI); the Family Support Agency (FSA); the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) and the Ombudsman for Children. With effect from 1 January 2012, I have taken responsibility for the Children Detention Schools as provided in Part 10 of the Children Act 2001.

  Apart from the Ombudsman for Children's Office which does not have a board, I am responsible for all Board of Management appointments. Since my appointment on 9th March 2011 I have made 33 appointments to the Boards of Management under the aegis of my Department. I have set out in tabular format below, the number of Board appointments I have made since I was appointed as Minister in March 2011, together with details of the remuneration and expenses associated with each position on the Boards. The remuneration set out is the actual remuneration associated with the post for a full calendar year.

  Each agency maintains records of expenses paid to board members. For example, all board members are paid travel and subsistence as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the governing legislation, for attendance at board meetings.

  National Educational Welfare Board

Board Member Annual remuneration Expenses 2011 Expenses 2012
Nuala Doherty (Chair) €0 €0 €0
Brendan Broderick Does not receive fee €0 €0
Catherine Connery Does not receive fee €0 €0
Marian Jennings Does not receive fee €0 €0
Eamonn Flynn - staff representive Does not receive fee €120 €120*
Bob Dowling Does not receive fee €0 €0
Ruairí Gogan Not applicable – Civil Servant €0 €0
Mary Donnelly Does not receive fee €0 €0
  *figure for 2012 relates to Jan-Aug 2012

  Children Detention Schools
Board Member Annual remuneration Expenses 2011* Expenses 2012
Joe Horan (Chair) Fee waived €0 €0
Gerard McKiernan Not applicable – Public Sector €0 €0
Ursula Kilkelly Not applicable – Public Sector €0 €613.20
Diego Gallagher Fee waived €0 €0
Sylda Langford Fee waived €0 €0
Pat Rooney Fee waived €0 €0
Elizabeth Howard Fee waived €0 €0
Colin Fetherston Not applicable – Public Sector €0 €0
Barry Rooney Not applicable – Public Sector €0 €0
Deirdre Keyes Not applicable – Public Sector €0 €0
Dan Kelleher Not applicable – Civil Servant €0 €0
  * All Board Members appointed on 26th March 2012 so expenses for 2011 do not apply

 

 Family Support Agency
Board Member Annual remuneration Expenses 2011 Expenses  2012
Sharon Foley (Chair) €8,978 €0 €0
Caroline Murphy €5,985 €0 €0
Dick Hickey €5,985 €9,436 €6,674
Dr. John Griffin €5,985 €0 €1,003
Marie Fenlon €5,985 €3,217 €3,528
Liz Chaloner €5,985 €0 €0
Nuala Ryan €5,985 €0 €0
Catherine Hazlett

(Resigned in 2011)
Not Applicable – Departmental Rep €0 €0
Yvette O’Malley

(Resigned in 2011)
€0 €0 €0
Marie Dullea Not applicable – Departmental Rep €0 €0
Catherine Downey Murphy €0 €0 €0
Imelda Martin Not applicable – Staff Rep €0 €0
Dr. Nollaig Byrne €0 €0 €0


  Adoption Authority of Ireland
Board Member Annual remuneration Expenses 2011 Expenses  2012
Dr. Imelda Ryan* €0 €0 €0
* claim for expenses has been made, not processed yet

Departmental Expenditure

 1458. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will detail, in tabular form, the total photography costs for her Department since coming to office inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the breakdown of costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37368/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department was formally established on the 2nd of June 2011 and to date photographers were booked for the following events:

Company /Photographer Date Event Amount
Report Ltd. 11/07/11 Launch of the report of consultations with young people on Reform of the Junior Cycle in 2nd level schools € 590.20
Report Ltd. 15/07/11 Children First Launch € 493.72
Moya Nolan 18/11/11 Dáil na nÓg 2011 € 820.00
Report Ltd. 27/07/11 Launch of the report of consultations with children living in the care of the State € 590.20

Aine O'Meara 10/04/2012 Dáil na Óg Event €180.00


  The Department has a detailed project planning process for each event and the decision to book a photographer is made based on the merits of the event.

Departmental Expenditure

 1459. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will detail in tabular form, the total cost of providing entertainment for her Department since coming to office inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which entertainment was provided; the entertainers used; the breakdown of costs associated with each occasion; if there is a policy regarding the booking of entertainers within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37440/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department was formally established on 2nd of June 2011 and since coming to office no costs have been incurred by providing entertainment.

Departmental Expenditure

 1460. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the amount spent on food and drink by her Department; if she will provide a breakdown of what this involved; the occasions on which food and drink was provided; those present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37456/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department is extremely conscious of the need to keep expenditure on items such as food and drink to a minimum. As such, controls are in place to ensure that refreshments are only provided at meetings where there is a valid business reason to do so. This would generally involve provision of in-house tea, coffee and biscuits in situations where external groups or bodies are involved. The work of my Department involves meetings with various stakeholders and groups working with children and young people and light refreshments would often be appropriate in these circumstances. The total amount spent on refreshments of this nature since January 2012 is €3,932. In addition, €1,586 has been spent on official entertainment relating to lunches.


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