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 Header Item Child and Family Support Agency Establishment (Continued)
 Header Item Child Care Services Provision

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The composition of the board of the child and family support agency is under consideration. While the composition of the board will reflect the component organisations being amalgamated into the child and family support agency, it is important for such an agency that the criteria for board membership ensure board members have the requisite mix of experience and competence needed to steer such a large organisation. More than 4,000 staff are being transferred to this agency. This is huge public sector reform and we must ensure the members guiding this who are on a small board that is directly accountable to me and the Department have the mix of experience and competence needed to steer such a large organisation. I expect there will be someone on the board representative of the work of the family support agency and the family resource centres, but the essential criteria for me will be the mix of skills needed to take forward an organisation of more than 4,000 people, rather than a broad mix of representative individuals from various organisations. That has not worked as a model for boards, as we saw with FÁS and other agencies.

I repeat my absolute commitment and that of the director of child and family services, Mr. Gordon Jeyes, to supporting the work that goes on in the family resource centres and the work of counselling and supporting voluntary groups, huge numbers of which are supported by the agency. That will continue.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy Will the Minister ensure there is a representative of the centres on the board? This is a new situation and these centres provided a range of vital services in local communities. If the reform the Minister talked about is to be successful, every element of the services must be represented at the highest level.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I take the Deputy's point but I hope he accepts what I am saying about the skills level that will be essential to lead such an organisation in terms of human resources, accountancy and standards. We have discussed the findings of the independent child death review group that state we have not had standard models for risk assessment or proper inter-agency work. There has been a huge deficit in management of information across the sector, along with poor budgeting and cost management. That happened throughout the years of the bubble. A lot of work must be done now and that is the primary task of the new agency, to ensure we have a service that is fit for purpose to give the effective services we want to deliver to children and families, given the number of reports that have been published.

Child Care Services Provision

 63. 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 if she will provide details of the after school child care scheme announced in the budget for 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56976/12]

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As part of the budget for 2013, together with my colleague the Minister for Social Protection, I was pleased to announce a new after school child care initiative which will be targeted at low-income families and supporting parents availing of employment opportunities. The initiative is expected to receive full year funding of €14 million to provide more than 6,000 quality after school places for children attending primary school, as well as supporting parents to take up employment. Lack of access to affordable, quality child care is a significant barrier to many low-income and disadvantaged families when seeking to avail of work and training or educational opportunities. Today's edition of The Irish Times outlined this again in the findings of the OECD report on Irish women.

  By providing more than 6,000 after school child care places, the initiative will provide an important support measure to enable parents to avail of job opportunities.


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