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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 284-294
 Header Item Youth Work Projects Funding
 Header Item Tobacco Control Measures
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Child Care Services Data
 Header Item Child Care Services Expenditure
 Header Item An Fhoireann Rannach
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos 284-294

Youth Work Projects Funding

 284. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of applicants in County Louth by location for the capital funding scheme to provide much needed assistance to youth projects to improve the facilities and equipment available for their work with young persons in the communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46881/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In 2014 some €500,000 in capital funding has been made available to my Department for small capital projects in the youth services. Last week, I was pleased to announce the allocation of capital grants to 50 youth projects and organisations throughout the country.

The aim of this capital funding scheme is to provide much needed assistance to youth projects to improve the facilities and equipment available for their work with young people in their communities. The grants awarded under this round of the capital funding scheme (Type One) will provide for the up-grade or replacement of equipment or for the purchase of essential equipment to support the running of the project/organisation.

Four projects in County Louth applied for funding, three from Dundalk and one from Drogheda. Two projects from Dundalk were successful in their applications.

The closing date for applications for Type Two grants under this capital funding scheme for young projects is 27 February 2015. Further details are available on my Department's website at www.dcya.gov.ie or from the Youth Officer in the local Education and Training Board.

Tobacco Control Measures

 285. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when legislation to allow for plain packaging of cigarettes will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47133/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As the Deputy will be aware, on 10 June 2014 Government approved the publication of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 and the presentation of the Bill in the Seanad. The Bill was passed in the Seanad in June, and completed Second Stage in the Dáil on 2 October 2014.

On 17 June, formal notification of the publication of the Bill was made to the Commission and to Member States under the EU Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC) and the Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU). The Commission and Member States had until 18 September to comment or provide detailed opinions on the proposed measures under the Technical Standards Directive. As detailed opinions have been received, the standstill period has been extended until 18 December 2014. The legislative process cannot continue until after this standstill period elapses.

Child Care Costs

 286. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly in view of the cost of childcare in this country, if he will alleviate some of the burden on commercial rates on the childcare sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46880/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I am aware of the high cost of early childhood care and education services in this country. The Government did announce in Budget 2015 an increase of €5 per month in child benefit for each eligible child. This measure brings the monthly payment per child to €135 and will benefit more than 600,000 families.

My Department provides annual funding in the region of €260 million to the childcare sector to support a number of childcare programmes. These programmes include the Community Childcare Subvention programme, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme and a number of labour activation initiatives under the Training and Employment Childcare programmes. The programmes provide direct support to more than 4,200 childcare services. This investment ensures that many parents who would otherwise not be in a position to avail of pre-school care and education for their children are able to avail of quality services.

Despite the budgetary situation that prevailed in recent years the Government has maintained the funding necessary to support the childcare programmes and has introduced new initiatives to meet the changing circumstances, particularly in regard to the improved employment opportunities in the economy. As funding becomes available, I would hope that the capitation rates for all programmes could be increased to provide further support.

Following concerns expressed by childcare providers throughout the country, the issue of commercial rates on pre-school services was raised with the previous Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The concerns of childcare providers in relation to commercial rates were also brought to the attention of officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Officials from my Department recently met with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of the Valuation Bill currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas and discussed the issue of commercial rates on pre-school services.

The Government has recently approved an amendment to the Bill to exempt not-for-profit childcare providers from rates. Private commercial childcare providers are subject to commercial rates except those whose funding is provided only through capitation provided under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. The new Bill does not provide for any changes in relation to the issue of commercial rates on private childcare services.

I must emphasise that my Department has no role in determining exemptions to commercial rates and this issue is a matter for the Department of Finance who have responsibility for fiscal policy.

Child Care Services Data

 287. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a person on the national internship scheme, JobBridge, is entitled to the community childcare subvention; when this category first became entitled to access it; the number of applicants or parents on JobBridge currently in receipt of it; the number of children it supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47032/14]

 288. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the amount allocated in his estimates for the community childcare subvention in 2013 and 2014; the amount spent in 2013; the projected spend for 2014; the number of parents and children it supported in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47033/14]

 289. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide in tabular form the number of those in receipt of, or qualified for the community child care subsidy in 2013 and 2014; if he will provide a breakdown of the number of parents on community employment, Tús, Gateway, back to work enterprise allowance, back to education allowance, part-time job incentive, JobBridge, springboard or ETB Solas courses who qualified for the CCS; the number of children supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47034/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 to 289, inclusive, together.

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which provides support for sessional pre-school, full time, part time and after school places, is targeted at disadvantaged or low income families and eligibility is based on means-tested entitlements.

In 2013 an allocation of €44 million was made to provide for the expected demand from eligible parents enrolling their children under the CCS programme. However the demand was in excess of that provided for and the actual spend for the year totalled €47 million. It is expected that approximately €45 million will be spent on supporting eligible parents availing of the programme in 2014.

The number of parents who availed of support under the CCS programme in the school year 2012-2013, from information provided in the parental electronic returns, was 19,844 with 24,907 children enrolled. In the school year 2013-2014 the number of parents supported under the programme was 19,079 with 23,728 children enrolled. The figures provided reflect the number of parents and children included in the electronic parental returns and are a measure of the number of children enrolled in a 'snap shot' week early in the school year. It is the case that some of these children will leave the programme and be replaced by other eligible children as the school year progresses. The figure for these replacements is not available but from information provided by participating childcare services it is shown that a substantial number of additional children not covered in the electronic returns would receive support under the programme.

The parental returns for the current school year 2014-2015 are presently being submitted and therefore figures for this period are not currently available.

The JobBridge scheme, which is implemented by the Department of Social Protection, is a National Internship Scheme which provides work experience placements for unemployed people. Participants in the JobBridge scheme receive a weekly allowance of €50 in addition to any social welfare entitlement they may have.

Participants in the JobBridge scheme do not, on the basis of participation in the scheme, automatically qualify for subvention under the CCS programme but qualify on the basis of their underlying social welfare entitlement. For example, a parent who was in receipt of Job Seekers benefit and who holds a medical card qualifies for a subvention payment of €50 per week towards the cost of full-time childcare. If the parent enters the JobBridge scheme they will continue to be subvented at the rate of €50 per week for the duration of their participation in the scheme.

The first applications from parents participating in the JobBridge scheme were submitted in the parental returns made by childcare providers to this Department in October 2012.

The data in relation to the number of parents who qualified for support under the CCS programme on the basis of their participation in State sponsored schemes or the receipt of allowances as outlined in the Deputy's Questions, and the data in relation to the JobBridge scheme is currently being compiled by officials in my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services Expenditure

 290. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the amount allocated in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the child care employment and training supports scheme; the amount spent in 2013, and projected outturn for 2014; the number of parents supported and children cared for in 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47035/14]

 291. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the amount allocated in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the community employment childcare programme; the amount spent in 2013; the projected outturn for 2014; the number of parents supported and children cared for in 2013 and 2014, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47036/14]

 292. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the amount allocated in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the after-school child care scheme; the amount spent in 2013; the projected outturn for 2014; the number of parents supported and children cared for in 2013 and 2014 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47037/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 290 to 292, inclusive, together.

My Department implements the three Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes - the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, the Community Employment Childcare (CEC) programme and the Afterschool Childcare (ASCC) programme - which provide childcare supports to eligible parents returning to work or to education.

Funding of €16 million was allocated in 2013 under the CETS programme and all of this amount was spent in providing childcare support to Solas and Education Training Board students and trainees who were approved for childcare funding support. The allocation in 2014 was increased to €17 million and it is expected that all of this funding will be used this year. This funding provides for 2,500 full time equivalent places which supports in the region of 4,500 children each year.

The CEC programme was introduced this year to support parents availing of Community Employment (CE) work opportunities. Funding of €7 million was allocated and it is expected that the final spend will be in the region of €2 million. The funding allocation is sufficient to provide for at least 1,200 part-time child care places and 800 after-school child care places. The uptake of the programme steadily increased throughout the year and there are now in the region of 950 childcare places being supported.

The ASCC programme was introduced in 2013 to support parents returning to the workforce who were deemed qualified for support by the Department of Social Protection. Funding totalling €11.5 million was made available in 2013 but only a small number of parents availed of the programme and the spend was in the region of €18,000. The funding allocation this year has been reduced to €2.5 million with the uptake again lower than expected with a spend of €0.26 million. The uptake of the programme did increase as the year progressed and there are now approximately 235 children availing of after-school places.

Details of the funding provision in relation to the childcare support programmes in 2015 will be confirmed in the revised estimates for the Public Services which will be published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

An Fhoireann Rannach

 293. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly  cén líon daoine atá ag obair ina Roinn faoi láthair atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge; cén céatadán den fhoireann atá i gceist; comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúirí sin agus na figiúirí céanna in 2004, 1994, 1984 agus 1974 [47281/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Tá 6 oifigí (4% den fhoireann) i láthair i mo Roinn atá in ann a gcuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Bunaíodh mo Roinn i 2011. Dá bhrí sin, níl mé in ann comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúiirí sin agus na blianta i gceist.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

 294. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the mandatory inclusion of defibrillator equipment in all secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46922/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has no information on the utilisation of defibrillators nor the operational issues associated with them. There is currently no structured public access defibrillation programme in operation in Ireland that specifies the conditions for providing defibrillators in public places.

The Public Health (Availability of Defibrillators) Bill 2013 that is currently at Committee stage outlines a scheme that would require the owners of particular types of premises or venues to install and maintain defibrillators so that they would be available for public use. The Bill sets out the requirement to provide defibrillators in a range of settings and for events which have a regular attendance in excess of 100 persons per day. It was agreed that there are a number or questions that need to be considered when designing a public defibrillation programme for Ireland and Government approval was therefore granted for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of a Public Access Defibrillator Programme for Ireland.

The health technology assessment of public access defibrillation conducted by HIQA has examined the clinical and cost-effectiveness of different configurations of any potential public access defibrillation programme. No information is available on the exact numbers of AEDs that are currently in use in Ireland and no information is currently available on the locations of these devices, what proportion are maintained and functional, and how many are available for use by the public.

The Expert Advisory Group on Public Access Defibrillation has now concluded its investigations and a report has been forwarded to the Department of Health which is currently under consideration.


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