Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 319-336
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Disability Allowance
 Header Item Jobseeker's Payments
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Work Placement Programmes
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Youth Work Supports
 Header Item School Attendance
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Childcare Services

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 100 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 319-336

Disability Services Provision

 319. Deputy Marian Harkin Information on Marian Harkin Zoom on Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if financial supports are available for wheelchair users who have a free travel card but that cannot use public transport to attend medical appointments due to their disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30161/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 979,000 customers with direct eligibility. The estimated expenditure on free travel in 2020 is €95 million.

The objective of the free travel scheme is to ensure that older people and people with disabilities remain active within their community. The Free Travel Scheme was never intended as a targeted support for people with severe mobility issues. Financial support may be provided to a wheelchair user in the circumstances the Deputy has outlined through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme (SWA). Under the SWA scheme my Department may award a travel supplement, in any case where the particular circumstances of the case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the individual case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

My Department provides an annual funding contribution of €1.5 million towards the Transport for Ireland Local Links Programme, which is administered by the National Transport Authority. The Programme provides services to people whose travel needs are not met by existing bus or train services. The Programme aims to enhance and sustain nationwide accessibility through community based participation, particularly for those at risk of social exclusion. Services provided include door to door services on certain routes. There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and ongoing work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers, to further improve access to public transport services.

In addition to services supported by my Department, the Revenue Commissioners operate a Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme. This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance

 320. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a disability allowance application will be examined with a view to payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30183/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 11 September 2020 to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required and subject to Covid-19 restrictions, hold an oral hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Payments

 321. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a jobseeker's payment will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30184/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The person concerned made an online casual Jobseekers Benefit claim on 23/09/2020. This claim was awarded on 12/10/2020 and the person concerned is being notified of this decision in writing. Any payment due to the person concerned will issue to her bank account on 20/10/2020.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 322. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a health worker that was in receipt of €600 to €700 per week that has had to stand down due to a Covid-19 contact can avail of a Covid-19 support payment; the level of payment at which they can avail; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30203/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Under the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 (No. 1), the Government, having regard to the manifest and grave risk to human life and public health posed by the spread of COVID-19, extended the Social Welfare Acts to provide for entitlement to illness benefit for persons who have been diagnosed with, or are a probable source of infection with COVID-19.

  The personal rate of payment of the enhanced Illness Benefit payment in respect of COVID-19 is €350, which is higher than the normal maximum personal rate of illness benefit. Additional payments may also be made in respect of a qualified adult and qualifying children. The measures were designed to ensure that where a registered medical practitioner or a HSE medical officer diagnoses a person with COVID-19 or identifies him or her as a probable source of infection of COVID-19, the person concerned can comply with medical advice to isolate, while having their income protected. This is essential to limit and slow down the spread of the virus, to keep the number of people affected to a minimum, and to reduce a peak of cases which would cause extreme pressure on the health system.

  The enhanced rate of Illness Benefit was brought in as a short-term public health measure and is not a long-term income support payment. It is payable for 2 weeks where a person is isolating as a probable source of infection of COVID-19 and for up to 10 weeks where a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19. There are no waiting days in respect of the enhanced illness benefit payment.

  From the outset of COVID-19, many employers have taken the initiative, in line with subsequent requests from the Government, to be as flexible as possible in allowing staff time off where required. Employers have a general duty of care towards their workers and that care is often expressed in the form of negotiation, compromise and flexibility. Some of the options to be considered for workers with responsibilities that preclude them from working their normal hours in the normal, pre-COVID-19, may include:

  - offering paid compassionate leave,

  - allowing employees to work from home,

  - altering shifts, so that employees can co-ordinate caring between themselves and partners, or another person,

  - allowing employees to take or rearrange annual leave,

  - allowing employees to rearrange parental leave,

  - allowing employees to take paid time off that can be worked back at a later time etc,

  - allowing employees to take unpaid leave until they can return to work full or part-time.

  In the event of an employee being told by their employer to go home or stay at home for a period of time without pay they may be entitled to claim the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance. If they are not eligible for those payments, then they may apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

  I trust that this clarifies the matter.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 323. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who is in receipt Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment is eligible to take up a free Springboard course and keep their payment at the same time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30211/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Applicants in receipt of the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) who apply for part time or full time springboard courses can retain a weekly social welfare payment if they transfer to a qualifying payment. This will ensure that these Springboard applicants will have an alternative income source on cessation of PUP.

  In advance of commencing a course of education, a person in receipt of PUP will be required to establish an entitlement to a qualifying social welfare weekly payment, generally a Jobseeker’s payment.

  A person will be required to transfer from PUP to the relevant qualifying social welfare scheme to continue to receive income support while availing of full-time education provision.

The qualification period will be deemed to have been met for a person transferring from PUP. This means someone applying for 2nd or 3rd   level will be deemed to have satisfied the required qualification period when they transfer from PUP.

Should the person concerned wish to avail of a Springboard course, she should contact Ballymun Intreo Centre at tel: 01 8940000 or email at Ballmun@welfare.ie   to advise them accordingly and to request a transfer of her payment from PUP to the relevant Jobseeker’s payment. Her entitlement to a qualifying Jobseeker’s payment must be established before commencing her course of study.

  I trust this clarifies the matter.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 324. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if persons returning to work after Covid-19 have a period during which secondary benefits are retained and in particular, the length of time rent supplement can be retained. [30293/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Rent supplement continues to play a key role in supporting families and individuals in private rented accommodation, with the scheme currently supporting 18,984 active recipients.

The scheme provides short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The scheme ensures that those who were renting, but whose circumstances have changed due to temporary loss of employment or income, can continue to meet their rental commitments.

Where entitlement of rent supplement is lost, a person will continue to receive rent supplement for a period of up to 30 days or until they receive their first wage / salary payment reflecting their new employment conditions, whichever is the earlier.

Notwithstanding the timing of the customer's restored income, the general rule for secondary benefits is that they cease once the customer has secured full-time employment. It is possible, depending on the customer's circumstances and level of earnings, that a portion of their rent supplement may be retained. If the Deputy wishes to provide the particulars of any case they have in mind, a tailored response can be provided for the customer in question.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Work Placement Programmes

 325. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the rate of payment to participants in the work placement scheme. [30294/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The July Jobs Stimulus includes commitments to the investment of €200m. in training, education, skill development, work placement schemes, recruitment subsidies and jobs search and assistance measures aimed to help those who have lost their jobs find a new one, retrain or develop new skills. One of the measures is the development of a funded Work Placement Scheme to provide work experience for jobseekers that have been unemployed for more than six months (to include those who received a PUP payment).

This initiative builds on advice from the Labour Market Advisory Council that such placements have the capacity to keep unemployed people close to the labour market and provide them with quality work experience to increase their employability. Moreover, work placements afford employers the opportunity to contribute to the national activation agenda. The use of work placements to straddle the transition from education and training to full-time employment has proven successful in the past and it is important that a new scheme be developed further to provide valuable work experience for jobseekers.

€30 million has been provisioned for this measure up to the end of 2021 to support 10,000 work placements for jobseekers. It is anticipated that some 5,000 host organisations will be required to support participants in these placements. A marketing and information campaign will be required to build momentum around the scheme and businesses will be encouraged to promote their support and engagement in the scheme.

Work is ongoing within my Department on finalising the detailed provisions of the programme. In relation to rate of payment to participants on the Work Placement Scheme, the final decision has not been reached. When these matters have been decided I will make a statement outlining the aims, scope and operation of the programme.

Pension Provisions

 326. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the pension of a person (details supplied) will be examined with a view to reconciling their tax records with their pension stamps to maximise their pension payment. [30321/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The person concerned reached pension age on 22 February 2018. According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 1093 qualifying full-rate paid contributions and 937 credited contributions from their date of entry into insurable employment on 22 February 1968 to end-December 2017. This equates to a yearly average of 41 contributions and gives them an entitlement to a standard State pension (contributory) at 98% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision on 16 March 2018.

An interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) was introduced in January 2018 as an alternative to the ‘yearly average’ method of calculating pension entitlement for those State pension (contributory) customers born on or after 1 September 1946 and therefore affected by post-2012 Budget pension rates. The TCA provides for up to 20 years of HomeCaring Periods in their pension entitlement calculation for applicants who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.

When the person’s State pension (contributory) was reviewed under this approach, the person concerned indicated to my Department that they did not wish to pursue a review. They were notified in writing of this decision on 6 March 2019.

Accordingly, the person concerned is in receipt of the correct rate of State pension (contributory) commensurate with their social insurance record as held by my Department. If they consider that they have additional contributions or credits that have not been recorded, it is open to them to forward documentary evidence to my Department and their pension entitlement can be reviewed.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

 327. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the pension of a person (details supplied) will be examined with a view to reconciling their tax records with their pension stamps to maximise their pension payment. [30322/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The person concerned reached pension age on 14 April 2019 According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 770 full-rate paid contributions, 1111 HomeCaring Periods and 222 credited contributions from their date of entry into insurable employment on 14 April 1969 to end-December 2018. This gave them an entitlement to a standard State pension (contributory) at 87% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision on 9 May 2019.

A review was carried out on 11 July 2019 as the person concerned paid additional voluntary contributions. Payment of the additional voluntarily contributions brought the standard State pension (contributory) to 92.02% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision on 11 July 2019, and arrears due were paid.

On 29 May 2020, the person concerned requested another review of their payment. Additional information was requested from them on 3 June 2020. If they wish to proceed with this review they should forward the requested information to my Department.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

 328. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the pension of a person (details supplied) will be examined with a view to reconciling their tax records with their pension stamps to optimise their pension payment. [30323/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The person concerned reached pension age on 18 January 2020. According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 543 qualifying full-rate paid contributions and 185 credited contributions from their date of entry into insurable employment on 19 October 1970 to end of December 2018. This equates to a yearly average of 15 contributions and gives them an entitlement to a standard State pension (contributory) at 65% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision on 31 December 2019.

Under European Union Regulations, a person’s social insurance record in one or more EU countries can be combined with their Irish social insurance record, to determine entitlement to a proportional or pro rata pension. As the person concerned has a UK social insurance record, details of their UK contribution history has been requested from the UK pension authority.

The person’s entitlement to an EU pro rata pension state pension (contributory) will be determined when this record is made available. The person will then be notified in writing of the outcome without delay and paid the most favourable rate of pension.

Accordingly, the person concerned is in receipt of the correct rate of State pension (contributory) commensurate with their social insurance record as held by my Department. If they consider that they have additional contributions or credits that have not been recorded, it is open to them to forward documentary evidence to my Department and their pension entitlement can be reviewed.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

 329. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the pension of a person (details supplied) will be examined with a view to reconciling their tax records with their pension stamps to optimise their pension payment. [30324/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The person concerned reached pension age on 27 May 2017. According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 853 qualifying full-rate paid contributions and 282 credited contributions from their date of entry into insurable employment on 29 May 1967 to end December 2016. This equates to a yearly average of 22 contributions and gives them an entitlement to a standard State pension (contributory) at 85% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision on 25 April 2017.

An interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) was introduced in January 2018 as an alternative to the ‘yearly average’ method of calculating pension entitlement for those State pension (contributory) customers born on or after 1 September 1946 and therefore affected by post-2012 Budget pension rates. The TCA provides for up to 20 years of HomeCaring Periods in their pension entitlement calculation for applicants who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.

When the person’s State pension (contributory) was reviewed under this approach, they were awarded 1074 HomeCaring Periods. This increased their rate of pension entitlement from 85% to 91.01% of the maximum rate. They were notified in writing of this decision and arrears on 27 February 2019. They are also in receipt of Living Alone, Fuel and Telephone Support Allowance.

Accordingly, the person concerned is in receipt of the correct rate of State pension (contributory) commensurate with their social insurance record as held by my Department. If they consider that they have additional contributions or credits that have not been recorded, it is open to them to forward documentary evidence to my Department and their pension entitlement can be reviewed.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Departmental Funding

 330. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the status of the need for increased funding for the National Youth Council of Ireland in view of the mental health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30006/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The allocations under Budget 2021 are being considered by Government in the context of the annual Estimates process for 2021. As this process is ongoing, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this stage.

While I recognise and acknowledge that youth sector funding saw deep cuts during the preceding decade, in recent years, funding for the provision of youth services has increased on an annual basis. Between 2016 and 2020 the annual current youth funding available to my Department has increased from €51.9m to €61.79m. In 2020, NYCI's allocation was in the region of €1.25m.

It is now more critical than ever that our young people are supported as they experience the social, economic, physical and mental health impacts of the pandemic. In recognition of the vital role played by youth work in providing such support to young people, funding levels have been maintained throughout the current challenging period. This has enabled the youth sector to continue to provide supports to young people, particularly to marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

I am committed to supporting this important sector, which has enormous value both to the many young people involved and from a broader social and economic viewpoint.

Youth Work Supports

 331. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if an additional €4.7 million in funding for youth work services in 2021 will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30080/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The allocations under Budget 2021 are being considered by Government in the context of the annual Estimates process for 2021. As this process is ongoing, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this stage.

While I recognise and acknowledge that youth sector funding saw deep cuts during the preceding decade, in recent years, funding for the provision of youth services has increased on an annual basis. Between 2016 and 2020 the annual current youth funding available to my Department has increased from €51.9m to €61.79m.

It is now more critical than ever that our young people are supported as they experience the social, economic, physical and mental health impacts of the pandemic. In recognition of the vital role played by youth work in providing such support to young people, funding levels have been maintained throughout the current challenging period. This has enabled the youth sector to continue to provide supports to young people, particularly to marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

I am committed to supporting this important sector, which has enormous value both to the many young people involved and from a broader social and economic viewpoint.

School Attendance

 332. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman his plans to address school absences in view of the results of the annual attendance report for the 2017 to 2018 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30237/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman As the Deputy may be aware, Tusla Education Support Services (TESS) is responsible for addressing issues in relation to participation, retention and attendance in schools.

Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) work with young people and their families who are experiencing difficulty with school attendance. The main priority of their work is around the welfare of children and young people and on ensuring that concerns and problems around attendance are addressed before attendance becomes a crisis issue. School Principals can make a referral to TESS when concern arises in relation to non attendance of a particular student. Currently TESS has 100 EWO’s in post.

The 2017/2018 Annual Attendance Report indicates that non-attendance rates in school remain broadly stable over the past five academic years from 2013/2014 to 2017/2018. There was a slight increase in primary school absences in 2017/2018 compared to 2016/2017 and a similar slight decrease in post-primary school absences in the same period.

All schools have a School Attendance Strategy in place and attendance is a central theme of DEIS planning with all DEIS schools required to set targets for improved school attendance. Non-attendance rates continue to be higher in DEIS Band 1 primary schools and DEIS post-primary schools when compared to other schools.

For the first time in 2017/2018 schools were asked to indicate if absences were explained or unexplained and this indicated that over 60% of absences in primary schools were explained compared to just over 50% in post-primary schools.

In November 2019, TESS rolled out a very successful campaign to promote positive school attendance called “Every School Day Counts” and over 2,000 schools ran initiatives in their schools to promote positive attendance as part of the national campaign.

As the Deputy will be aware, An Taoiseach announced, as part of his speech on the formation of Government on Saturday 27 June, that “Educational welfare functions will be returned to the Department [of Education].” Discussions are currently underway between the two Departments in that regard.

Children in Care

 333. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the number of children in the care of Tusla in residential placements in the United Kingdom; the number on short term or specialist placements; the number on long term placements; the implications of Brexit on these placements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29570/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Deputy is referring to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that Tula respond directly to the Deputy.

Children in Care

 334. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the number of children in the care of Tusla in foster placements in the United Kingdom; the number on short term or specialist placements; the number on long term placements; the implications of Brexit on these placements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29571/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Matrimonial and Parental Judgments: jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement (Brussels IIa) Regulation is the legal mechanism in relation to children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, who are placed with foster carers in the UK, who move with their foster carers to the UK or who are in a short or long term residential or other specialist placement.

  The Regulation applies to civil law cases involving more than one country including aspects of parental responsibility such as custody and access rights.

  Should the UK withdraw from the EU in the absence of agreement, the provisions of the 1996 Hague convention – to which the UK is a party – can be utilised to achieve the same outcome.

  In order to provide the deputy with the further information requested, I have referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that Tula respond directly to the Deputy.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 335. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if he will consider setting up hubs at mother and baby home sites or nearby so that both the history can be preserved and that records could be accessed on a regional basis. [29730/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is due to submit its final report by 30th October 2020. The important work of this Commission will undoubtedly help us to acknowledge and better understand the truth of what happened in and around these institutions. Once available, the Commission’s final conclusions on all matters will be considered when determining the appropriate State response.

Memorialisation was one of the key issues examined by the Collaborative Forum of former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and related institutions which was set up by my predecessor. My Department utilised the recommendations in its first report, to shape the design of the Commemorative Grant Scheme that was launched in March 2020.

The Commission's final report will assist to inform deliberations on the development of local and national memorialisation measures. I am committed to facilitating further engagement with former residents and their families to build a consensus around specific memorialisation projects. I am certainly open to exploring the Deputy's suggestions for measures that would preserve and acknowledge the histories of these institutions and provide access to relevant information on a regional basis. In this regard I would welcome any further information which the Deputy may wish to provide on this proposal.

Childcare Services

 336. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if his attention has been drawn to reports from parents that some crèches are no longer accepting the national childcare scheme (details supplied); the percentage of crèches availing of the scheme; the measures being taken to reduce barriers to uptake; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29765/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman At present, there are 2,874 childcare providers participating in the National Childcare Scheme. In total, there are 4,373 providers participating in at least one programme funded by my Department.

  I am aware that some providers have faced challenges in adapting to the new Scheme, its new IT system, and that it is taking time for some providers to become familiar with the new requirements of the Scheme.

  Training and supports have been made available to assist providers with this transition:

  - Briefing sessions with City & County Childcare Committees took place in July and August 2020

  - Training sessions for providers were delivered via webinars

  - Recordings of the Webinars were sent to all NCS providers and the CCCs

  - A series of training guides have been developed in recent weeks in relation to contracting, registrations and submitting applications for Higher Capitation and AIM Level 1.

  The introduction of the NCS removed the administrative burden from childcare providers of applying for childcare supports on a parent’s behalf. Parents now apply for the Scheme directly, and only approach childcare providers once they have completed their application and have a CHICK to register.

  In addition, my Department made a number of supports available in advance of the Scheme’s launch last year, including the NCS Transition Support Payment and the NCS Capital Grant.

  My Department with Pobal, the Scheme Administrator, are also looking at ways to improve the provider experience and will continue to enhance the system based on feedback and engagement with the sector.

If the Deputy is aware of any specific issues being experienced by individual providers I would encourage him to refer those providers to Pobal’s Early Years Provider Centre by contacting eypc@pobal.ie   or calling 01 511 7222.


Last Updated: 20/01/2021 16:44:43 First Page Previous Page Page of 100 Next Page Last Page