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Fitzgerald, Frances

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Children's Rights Referendum

Was asked: her response to the Supreme Court judgment that her Department acted in breach of the Constitution during the recent children’s rights referendum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I wish to inform Deputies that the High Court is currently hearing an application for leave to petition the court under the provisions of the Referendum Act 1994 to question the validity of the pro...More Button

In light of these matters, it is prudent not to make comment that would be prejudicial to proceedings. As a respondent in the proceedings, I am particularly constrained as regards further commen...More Button

I participated fully in a Seanad Éireann debate on the Supreme Court decision on 8 November, the day of the decision. I made a detailed statement as part of that debate. No other proceedings we...More Button

Was asked: the reason, despite the recorded concerns of the Referendum Commission chairman in the previous referendum (details supplied), the Government proceeded with the publication of a parallel informatio...More Button

I wish to reiterate the need to be mindful of court proceedings with regard to the referendum result and the particular constraints which I face as a defendant in the High Court application at this...More Button

Was asked: her response to the unanimous Supreme Court judgement that her Department acted in breach of the Constitution during the recent Children’s Referendum; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

At the outset I wish to emphasise that I and my Department did not set out to act in disregard of the Constitution. Indeed, no such claim was made in the proceedings.

  The Su...More Button

Was asked: her views on the McCrystal judgement in the Supreme Court last week; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I have said on many occasions before now, and remain firmly of the view, that Saturday 10th November was a historic day for the children and families of this country. I believe tha...More Button

Children's Rights Referendum (Continued)

I explained in the Seanad that the Government's information provision was well intentioned and that in preparing information materials, it was considered that appropriate regard had been paid to th...More Button

I remind the Deputy that the Government is defending a petition in the High Court. Recognising the separation of Parliament and Judiciary, moreover, I have no wish to, and will not, prejudice the ...More Button

Ms Justice Denham stated in regard to the case: "In all the circumstances of this case, as have appeared before the court, I am satisfied that the respondents acted in a bona fide manner." Mr. J...More Button

It certainly was not. In fact, the highest court in the land disagrees with what the Deputy said and accepts the bona fides of myself and my Department in this regard. However, I accept that the ...More Button

While I would like to engage in a long debate on the issues raised, I reiterate that I am constrained in terms of the hearing in January. The issues raised will be considered by the Government. I...More Button

My reply to that question has to be that there is a hearing in the High Court. To give further comment would not be the right thing to do. I recognise the importance of that case and of not makin...More Button

Child and Family Support Agency Establishment

Was asked: her policy for the continuation of family resource centres into the future having regard to the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency; if she will confirm the continuation and extens...More Button

The Government has approved the heads of the child and family support agency Bill and has also agreed to the priority drafting of this Bill. The necessary legislative and organisational preparatio...More Button

Was asked: if she will outline the position in regard to the introduction of the necessary legislation to facilitate the establishment of the child and family support agency; when she expects to publish this ...More Button

The task force on the establishment of the child and family support agency reported in July of this year. The work of the task force informed the development of detailed legislative proposals to G...More Button

Was asked: if adequate resources to employ social workers for children are in place for 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Government has given approval to the drafting of a Bill to establish the Child and Family Support Agency. Work on the preparation of the legislation is proceeding as a priority and the intenti...More Button

I welcome the allocation of €546 million in the HSE vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services. This consists of €545 million in current expenditure and €1 million in capital. The p...More Button

The budget set out above includes provision for the 260 social workers recruited on foot of the Ryan Report Implementation Plan and the establishment of the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Ser...More Button

Once the Agency is established, the Chief Executive designate, Gordon Jeyes, will be responsible for the management of the overall combined resource. In this context he will have the discretion t...More Button

Child and Family Support Agency Establishment (Continued)

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 c...More Button

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 counsel...More Button

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. ...More Button

The Deputy made a very reasonable point on having a timeline and it is being worked on by the high level group. The legislation to be introduced in January is important and the Office of the Attor...More Button

I thank all of the staff who have been involved because I know change can be difficult and it is a major transition to move from working within the HSE to a new child and family support agency. ...More Button

Child Care Services Provision

Was asked: 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. More Button

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-incom...More Button

Was asked: the number of children who used the services of the out-of-hours projects in counties Donegal and Cork each month since they were established; the number of children who repeatedly used the service...More Button

As part of the ongoing ‘change agenda’ in Child and Family services I am committed to developing the capacity of our child protection services to appropriately and effectively address the needs of ...More Button

Two out-of-hours pilot projects, one in Donegal and the other in Cork, were commenced by the HSE in 2011. The Donegal project started mid-year and the Cork project started in the third quarter. ...More Button

It should be noted that at present the Health Service Executive provides out-of-hours emergency services for children at risk in the greater Dublin area through the Crisis Intervention Service, a...More Button

The Crisis Intervention Service provides out-of-hours emergency social work assistance to young people aged under 18 years. The service operates across the greater Dublin area (Counties Dublin, K...More Button

In relation to activity data for the crisis intervention service, information provided by the HSE indicates that in 2009 there were 830 referrals to the service, of which 441 were males and 389 w...More Button

The Emergency Place of Safety Service, operates outside the greater Dublin area, whereby Gardai can access an emergency placement for children found to be at risk out-of-hours. This service invo...More Button

As regards usage of the Emergency Place of Safety Service, which commenced in June 2009, information provided by the HSE indicates that in the period June to December 2009 the service received a ...More Button

In the light of the evaluation of the two pilot out of hours initiatives and experience with those other services mentioned above which operate outside normal working hours, the HSE has been aske...More Button

Was asked: if she will provide a breakdown of the way that the €16.5 million has been redirected into childcare places for low income workers and targeted early childhood care and education supports for disad...More Button

Was asked: her views on whether the joint initiative between her Department and the Department of Social Protection to develop a new after school childcare scheme targeted at low income families will create a...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 105 together.More Button

As part of Budget 2013, together with my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, I was pleased to announce the introduction of two new initiatives for children's services, which together a...More Button

The first of these is the new 'Area Based Approach to Child Poverty' initiative which is expected to receive €2.5 million in Exchequer funding in 2013. This initiative will build on and continue...More Button

In the coming months my Department will be working, in conjunction with the Office of the Tánaiste and key Departments, to expand the number of project sites from 3 to 6 and to evaluate the relev...More Button

The second initiative is the provision of new After-School Childcare places to be managed jointly between my Department and the Department of Social Protection. These places will be targeted a...More Button

The new childcare scheme will augment my Department's existing programme of childcare supports for low income families. These include the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and the Childcare Ed...More Button

The After School places, as with those funded under the CETS and ECCE programmes, are expected to be available in both commercial and community providers. It is also intended to encourage the pr...More Button

Was asked: her plans to develop a Scandinavian model of childcare here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: her views on the proposed after school childcare scheme which falls short of calls for the development of a system of Scandinavian style childcare here; and if she will make a statement on the matt...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 92 together.More Button

As part of Budget 2013, together with my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, I was pleased to announce a new After-School Childcare initiative which will be targeted at low-income fami...More Button

The initiative is expected to receive full year funding of €14 million to provide over 6,000 quality after-school places for children attending primary school, as well as supporting parents to ta...More Button

By providing over 6,000 after-school childcare places, the initiative will provide an important support measure to enable parents to avail of job opportunities. This is in line with the Governme...More Button

The After-School Childcare Scheme will further augment my Department's programme of childcare supports for low income families. These include the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and the Chil...More Button

My Department also implements the universal free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, under which all children have equal access to free pre-school education in...More Button

Future developments in the area of early childhood care and education, will be considered by my Department in the context of its National Early Years Strategy. The Strategy is currently being de...More Button

There has been significant development in supports for childcare in recent years. The existing childcare schemes operated by my Department have been fully maintained, including the universal, fr...More Button

Budget 2013 contained a very important initiative in the development of support for School Age Childcare for low income parents taking up employment opportunities. I believe these developments c...More Button

Was asked: the discussions she has had with the Health Service Executive regarding complementary funding supports to county childcare committees; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the way she will fund child minders advisory worker posts in county childcare committees; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 101 together.More Button

The City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) are funded by my Department to assist it in implementing its early years programmes, including supporting service providers and advising parents, a...More Button

Childminding advisory officers have been funded in the past by the Health Service Executive (HSE), in a number of counties, often directly through the local Childcare Committee. I understand tha...More Button

Was asked: her plans for the community childcare subvention programme in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme provides funding to community childcare not-for-profit services to enable them to charge reduced childcare rates to parents in receipt of social w...More Button

For the purpose of the CCS programme, eligibility is determined by reference to a range of means-tested allowances and payments including receipt of a social welfare payment, Family Income Supple...More Button

My Department is also responsible for implementing the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which provides subsidised childcare qualifying parents on approved VEC and FÁS ed...More Button

Despite the need to achieve expenditure savings across all Government departments, I am very pleased to note that funding for the CCS and CETS programmes in 2013 will be maintained at very close ...More Button

The new After-School Childcare scheme is intended to support parents entering employment by providing over 6,000 quality after-school places for children attending primary school. The scheme wil...More Button

I would also note that my Department implements the universal free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, under which all children have equal access to free pre-s...More Button

Was asked: her plans to regulate all paid child minders; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department has begun work on Ireland’s first Early Years Strategy which will provide an innovative and dynamic blueprint for the future development of Ireland’s Early Years sector aimed at provi...More Button

One of the issues of policy which I have identified for consideration in the preparation of the new Strategy is the development of the childminding sector as a fully-integrated component of early...More Button

At present pre-school services are regulated under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No.2) Regulations 2006, as provided for under Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991.More Button

Services providing care for children who have not yet commenced primary school are required to notify their service to the Pre-School Inspectorate of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and are su...More Button

The National Guidelines for Childminders, compiled by the National Childcare Co-ordinating Committee which oversees the development of an integrated childcare infrastructure throughout the countr...More Button

As is the case with all regulatory requirements, the Child Care Regulations set the minimum standards which services are legally required to comply with. However, my Department is pro-active in ...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the community childcare subvention programme in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 11; if she will consider an application to facilitate the early paymen...More Button

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme provides funding to community childcare not-for-profit services to enable them to charge reduced child care rates to parents in receipt of social ...More Button

Community childcare services participating in the CCS programme qualify for grant aid on the basis of the level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their servic...More Button

No further funding is made available over and above what is generated by the parental returns which, this year, would have included all the eligible children enrolled in the week commencing the 1...More Button

Parental returns have been submitted by the service provider referred to by the Deputy and provisional payment has been made with a further payment due to issue in January 2013. The next opportu...More Button

Child Care Services Provision (Continued)

This is in line with the Government's overall strategy to support parents of low-income families to take up employment and demonstrates how Departments are working together to deliver the Governmen...More Button

Some 500 places will be available on a pilot scheme early in the new year, hopefully around March. The full 6,000 places will be available - that is fully the intention - from September 2013. A n...More Button

The sector is not regulated, as the Deputy rightly said. I will need to examine that and ascertain the appropriate standards and criteria that need to be in place as we establish the service, an...More Button

September.More Button

I appreciate the work of the county child care committees, which carry out excellent work around the country and will be involved in this. An expression of interest form will be circulated in earl...More Button

It must be noted that because of the changing employment situation in the past number of years, there have been vacancies in some services. There has been a change in child care provision of whi...More Button

Constitutional Amendment on Children

Was asked: if she has attended a meeting with officials and or others at which the initial Supreme Court judgment from 8 November was discussed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

This question was transferred from the Department of the Taoiseach. I met Government colleagues and senior officials on 8 November to discuss the ruling delivered by the Supreme Court in the McCry...More Button

Further to the meeting of 8 November, I issued a statement encouraging people voting in the referendum on 10 November to focus on the substance of the amendment and the historic importance of the...More Button

Constitutional Amendment on Children (Continued)

Later that afternoon I contributed to a debate in Seanad Éireann on the Supreme Court decision. Deputy Troy mentioned that earlier. One must remember that when I spoke in the Seanad, while the fu...More Button

As I said in my statement of 8 November, in providing public information the Government at all times acted in good faith and with the best of intentions in informing people about the substance of...More Button

The Government considered that, in its provision of information to the public, it was paying appropriate regard to the McKenna principles. The approach taken followed that of previous informatio...More Button

I will conclude by saying that, as I have stated already and made clear, the Government will now take on board the full judgment of the Supreme Court of 11 December.More Button

As I stated, the Government will now take on board the full judgment of the Supreme Court of 11 December. The failures to which Deputy Troy refers on the part of the Government identified by the S...More Button

I refer the Deputy to my Seanad speech on that date, from which he quoted. That Seanad speech is accurate. In light of the High Court hearing in January, as a respondent in those proceedings I ...More Button

Deputy Finian McGrath was not here when I spoke earlier, but I would like to make the following point to him now. As Mrs. Justice Denham said, "In all the circumstances of this case, as have ...More Button

Departmental Budgets

Was asked: if she is satisfied regarding the adequacy of her Departmental budget to meet its full range of requirements in the coming year with particular reference to new and/or anticipated responsibilities ...More Button

As a result of budget 2013, I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the gross funding allocation for my Department next year will amount to €443 million, which represents an increase of €16 million ...More Button

I know the Deputy will appreciate the economic context in which my Department is operating. Like every other Department, we have had to make savings. While I regret that situation, I must opera...More Button

Departmental Budgets (Continued)

There are implications in terms of both policy and legislation attaching to the proposal to amend the Constitution, with a significant body of work likely to be involved in amending existing legisl...More Button

The Deputy raised broad questions on young people in Ireland and it is true that Irish childhood has in many ways changed beyond belief in respect of the progress of children, for example, in the c...More Button

This is the reason the new Child and Family Support Agency will focus on prevention, on identifying those children and families and on making sure that, as I indicated to Deputy Healy earlier tod...More Button

Yes.More Button

I accept that. Deputy Finian McGrath mentioned violence, taking in both children who are carrying out and who are subject to violence. I agree that the issue is serious. I must repeat that the b...More Button

Many youth work services around the country now specifically work with the more marginalised young people. It is interesting that there are fewer children and young people coming into detention....More Button

Deputies Ó Caoláin and Troy spoke about budgetary matters and much work has been done. Some of the figures quoted by the Children's Rights Alliance regarding the agency are incorrect and I will ...More Button

For example, some adjustments had to be made in respect of expenditure for child and adolescent mental health, which was mistakenly included under the Child and Family Support Agency budget. Some ...More Button

Yes, I will be pleased to provide the Deputy with the relevant information. As he will be aware, when I first assumed responsibility for this budget last year it was €72 million overdrawn, which i...More Button

Extra demands are being placed on the service. For example, decisions must be taken in respect of children who require special care and these will give rise to considerable expense. I am in fav...More Button

One of the most useful initiatives we took last year was to republish the Children First guidelines with a manual to ensure people understand the issues when children are at risk and know when to r...More Button

The usual procedure for Departments is that individual cases would be referred to the Health Service Executive and child and family services. This is how children in such circumstances are ident...More Button

School Completion Programme

Was asked: her plans regarding the school completion programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The school completion programme aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to improve children’s participation and attendance in school. In 2013, ...More Button

The findings of the review will also inform the NEWB’s ongoing work to implement an integrated national approach to educational support services to enhance children’s attendance, participation an...More Button

Next year will also see the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency and incorporation of the education welfare services operated by the NEWB within a broader and more comprehensive r...More Button

School Completion Programme (Continued)

A full review of the scheme will take place in 2013.More Button

Its terms of reference will take account of the need for local innovation in developing programmes and address the variations in approaches and cost bases. The truth about the programme is that th...More Button

There are significant variations in the projects and their cost bases. The programme needs to be analysed and reviewed. The review was signalled when the comprehensive review of expenditure was...More Button

I recognise the importance of school attendance. I have seen some interesting projects, for example, one in Ballymun and another in the inner city, through which significant differences were mad...More Button

The question of school completion is critical. I regret the cutbacks that must be made. I hope that, when economic growth resumes, we can begin to invest more resources into such issues.More Button

The current information on school completion is interesting. For those who entered second level between 2001 and 2006 in the schools in question, the average leaving certificate retention rate inc...More Button

I agree, however, with the Deputies' points. We are undertaking the review because the projects need to be examined and value for money needs to be considered. We also need to determine which p...More Button

I do not expect the review to cost much, but I will revert to Deputy Troy on that question. In our analysis of the projects and their outcomes, we intend to link with those involved to benefit f...More Button

Inter-Country Adoptions (Continued)

I thank Deputy Charles Flanagan for raising this issue and appreciate the reasons he has done so. I assure the Deputy I am addressing this issue.

  The Hague Convention and Adop...More Button

Yes, such adoptive parents are expected to deal with the agency. We can, however, examine the terms and conditions, as it were, under which they are entering the arrangement to ascertain whether w...More Button

Ministerial Responsibilities

Was asked: her top priorities for 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department was set up to drive the delivery of key commitments in relation to children and young people. The Department was established in June 2011 with a mandate to put in place a unified fra...More Button

My priorities for 2013 relate primarily to the ongoing implementation of the Programme for Government commitment relating to my Department. These priorities include:More Button

- Establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency in early 2013, with legislation to be introduced in January.More Button

- Introduction of legislation to place the Children First National Guidance on a statutory footing, building on the extensive work of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health & Children in consider...More Button

- Maintaining the free Pre-School Year in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and improving its quality as resources allow.More Button

- Enacting legislation on adoption.More Button

- Implementation of a new area based approach to child poverty as announced in Budget 2013.More Button

- Construction of new children detention facilities at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin to ending the practice of sending children to St. Patrick’s Institution.More Button

In addition, work is continuing on preparation of the Government’s Children and Young People’s Policy Framework as well as Irelands’ first-ever National Early Years Strategy which will be publish...More Button

2013 is a particularly important year as Ireland will assume the Presidency of the European Union and I will chair the EU Council of Youth Ministers. Ireland’s national priority themes for the Yo...More Button

Subject to finalisation of matters in relation to the constitutional amendment of children a top priority for my Department for 2013 will be to implement the necessary changes to policy and legi...More Button

Bullying of Children

Was asked: her policy to combat cyberbullying; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As Minister for Children & Youth Affairs I am concerned about the impact that bullying of any kind.

  My Department’s 'Growing Up in Ireland' study has found that over 24% o...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she has studied the incidence of bullying amongst young people which includes social bullying, bullying in the workplace, through the medium of the social media or the internet;...More Button

As Minister for Children & Youth Affairs I am concerned about the impact bullying can have on our children and young people, on their confidence, learning outcomes, self-esteem and mental healt...More Button

Aftercare Services

Was asked: if the report she has requested the National Director for Children and Family Services to prepare on aftercare provision, including best practice, assessment criteria and most effective aftercare s...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that I am currently examining options, in association with the Attorney General, to strengthen legislation to make explicit the HSE's obligations in the provision of afterc...More Button

The HSE National Aftercare Service which is underpinned by a National Policy and Procedures Document, commits to promoting and achieving the best outcomes for young people leaving care and in en...More Button

The HSE has reported on the key findings of the National Implementation Group's review of aftercare provision. The review has shown that there is now a more systematic approach to ensuring that y...More Button

Currently the annual spend on aftercare is €17 million. The most recent information available indicates that there are 1,387 young people in aftercare, the majority of whom are aged 18-19 years. ...More Button

The National Policy and Procedures Document sets out the eligibility criteria for an aftercare service. The care planing review process identifies young people as they approach 16 years and a pro...More Button

The aftercare policy has a strong multi-agency dimension, which is particularly important in the context of the HSE Children and Family Services' transition to the Child and Family Support Agency...More Button

Clearly, there have been improvements in the delivery of aftercare service and the issue is under ongoing active consideration by the National Implementation Group. My officials will continue to ...More Button

Children in Care

Was asked: the waiting time that applied in the cases of the three young persons who were approved and are awaiting a special care placement and the one young person approved and awaiting a high support place...More Button

There are three designated special care units in the country where children are detained on order of the high court for their own safety. There is a unit in Ballydowd in Dublin, Gleann Álainn in ...More Button

As of the 23rd October 2012, there were 3 young people approved and awaiting a special care intervention and one young person approved and awaiting a placement in a High Support Unit. The HSE has...More Button

The HSE has advised me that as of 12th December, one young person has been approved for and is awaiting a special care intervention.More Button

With regard to the young person awaiting the high support placement, the HSE has advised that the young person is currently on transition into a high support residential unit. The HSE has advised...More Button

Was asked: the institutions in which children with special care needs have been placed overseas by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Under the Child Care Act, 1991, the Health Service Executive has a duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care or protection. The policy of the HSE is to place child...More Button

Child Benefit Payments

Was asked: her views on whether the reduction in child benefit will undermine her Department’s objective of achieving better outcomes for children and young persons and providing support for parents and famil...More Button

The issue of Child Benefit payments is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection.

  My Department currently provides support to parents to assist them with the cost of chil...More Button

Child and Family Support Agency Funding

Was asked: if she will outline her proposals in relation to the proposed Child and Family Resource Agency; if she will confirm that resources granted to the new agency will be given on the understanding that ...More Button

I am firmly committed to the transformation of Ireland’s child protection and welfare services, and to the establishment of a new Child and Family Support Agency (CFSA). More Button

The Government has approved the Heads of the Child and Family Support Agency Bill and has also agreed to the priority drafting of this Bill. The necessary legislative and organisational preparati...More Button

- Child welfare and protection services currently operated by the HSE including family support and alternative care services.More Button

- Child and family related services for which the HSE currently has responsibility including pre-school inspections and domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services.More Button

- Community based psychology services as they relate to children and families services covered by the Child and Family Support Agency and to services provided by the HSE. With regard to psychology ...More Button

- The Family Support Agency which currently operates as a separate body under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be merged into the new Agency.More Button

- The National Educational Welfare Board which also currently operates as a separate body under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be merged into the new Agency.More Button

It is my intention that the CFSA will address the persistent issues which have been raised regarding the standardisation and consistency of service provision across the country particularly in th...More Button

Inclusion of the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board will also broaden the professional, accessible, service and community based resources of the organisation which ...More Button

An amount of €546 million has been allocated in the HSE vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services. This consists of €545 million in current expenditure and €1 million in capital. T...More Button

Was asked: the way she plans to resource the yet to be established Child and Family Support Agency in view of the fact that that the Children and Family Services Health Service Executive budget has been cut b...More Button

I welcome the allocation of €546 million in the HSE vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services. This consists of €545 million in current expenditure and €1 million in capital. This le...More Button

Foster Care Provision

Was asked: her plans to rectify the situation whereby some children in foster care on reaching 18 years are then placed in the care of the Department of Justice even when their foster carers wish for them to ...More Button

The immediate and ongoing needs of separated children seeking asylum (SCSA) as well as their application for refugee status are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in accordanc...More Button

The HSE and the RIA have an agreed policy in relation to the accommodation of separated children seeking asylum who reach the age of 18 years and there is regular liaison between the two agencies. ...More Button

The above arrangement reflect the legislative provisions and the different statutory responsibilities of the HSE and the RIA as it relates to those seeking asylum.More Button

Corporal Punishment

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland's failure to ban corporal punishment has resulted in the State being in violation of Article 17 of the Revised European Social Charter; and ...More Button

Amongst the Conclusions on Ireland by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe (CoE) in respect of Article 8 of the Revised European Social Charter is that the situat...More Button

Childhood Obesity

Was asked: the contribution her Department can make to reduce obesity in teenagers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Government shares with many other agencies and professional groups, concerns about the growth and nutrition of children and teenagers and the immediate and longer term health risks posed by obe...More Button

Child Abuse Reports

Was asked: the recommendations of the Ryan Report that she has yet to implement; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Ryan Report Implementation Plan - Third Progress Report was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 12 November 2012. This Report contained full details of the implementation status of eac...More Button

Homeless Persons Data

Was asked: her plans to undertake a comprehensive review of the coordination, implementation and continued relevance of the youth homelessness strategy.More Button

My Department has engaged the Centre for Effective Services (CES) to undertake a high level review of the implementation of the 2001 Youth Homelessness Strategy. More Button

The purpose of the review is to establish the extent that the strategy has been successful, to identify blockages and challenges to its implementation in respect of any outstanding actions and to...More Button

Consultations were held with the relevant service providers, non-Government agencies and young people as part of this process. It is envisaged that this review will be launched early next year. T...More Button

Child and Family Support Agency Remit

Was asked: the date on which she will publish the implementation plan for the roll out of State wide out of hours emergency social care service; if this plan will be published before Christmas; and if she wil...More Button

As part of the ongoing ‘change agenda’ in Child and Family services I am committed to developing the capacity of our child protection services to appropriately and effectively address the needs of ...More Button

Two out-of-hours pilot projects, one in Donegal and the other in Cork, were commenced by the HSE in 2011. The Donegal project started mid-year and the Cork project started in the third quarter. ...More Button

I am informed by the HSE that it is currently reviewing the recommendations of the Evaluation Report in the context of the preparation of the Service Plan for 2013. The HSE is committed to furthe...More Button

What is important is that children in crisis, no matter where they are, have access to 24 hour social work assistance, and this is what the HSE's National Director for Children and Family Service...More Button

It should be noted that at present the Health Service Executive provides out-of-hours emergency services for children at risk in the greater Dublin area through the Crisis Intervention Service, a...More Button

The Crisis Intervention Service provides out-of-hours emergency social work assistance to young people aged under 18 years. The service operates across the greater Dublin area (Counties Dublin, K...More Button

The Emergency Place of Safety Service, operates outside the greater Dublin area, whereby Gardai can access an emergency placement for children found to be at risk out-of-hours. This service invo...More Button

Was asked: based on the experiences of her Department over the past year and a half, the extent to which she has identified the most issues affecting children and youth; her plans to address these matters in ...More Button

My Department was set up to drive the delivery of key commitments in relation to children and young people. The Department was established in June 2011 with a mandate to put in place a unified fra...More Button

Following on from the work done to date I will continue my work to implement the relevant Programme for Government commitments including:-More Button

- The establishment of a Child and Family Support Agency on a statutory basis in order to fundamentally reform the delivery of family support, child welfare and protection services and remove respo...More Button

- Implementing the recommendations of the Ryan Report, including the inspection of child protection services and putting Children First: National Guidance on a statutory footing.More Button

- Maintaining the free Pre-School Year in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and improving its quality as resources allow.More Button

- Enacting legislation to consolidate and reform the law on adoption.More Button

- To adopt a new area based approach to child poverty, which draws on best international practice and existing services to tackle every aspect of child poverty.More Button

- Continued progress on ending the practice of sending children to St. Patrick’s Institution through the project to develop new children detention facilities at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin.More Button

In addition, a new Children and Young People’s Policy Framework is being developed in a holistic way to comprehend the continuum of the life course from infancy, through early and middle childhoo...More Button

Ireland will assume the Presidency of the European Union in January 2013 and in my role as Chairperson of the EU Youth Council, Ireland’s national priority themes for the Youth Council Presidency...More Button

Subject to finalisation of matters in relation to the constitutional amendment of children a top priority for my Department for 2013 will be to implement the necessary changes to policy and legis...More Button

United Nations Conventions

Was asked: her plans to ratify the third Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure which would enable children and their families to make comp...More Button

The third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was opened for signature by member states in February 2012. I have previously stated that it was my intention to sign the...More Button

Once the report is finalised and submitted to the UN Committee it would be my intention to sign the third Optional Protocol in due course on behalf of Ireland. Ratification would generally take ...More Button

Youth Unemployment Data

Was asked: the contribution her Department will make to tackling youth unemployment in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Government is committed to tackling unemployment and is working to create the environment for a strong economic recovery and jobs growth. Youth unemployment is a particular concern because of t...More Button

The Government’s action plans contain a range of measures across departments and agencies to support young people to get a foothold in the jobs market. These include the Youthreach programme for ...More Button

My Department has a specific role in supporting the provision of youth services and programmes for young people aged primarily between 10 and 24 years. In 2013, €53.173m has been provided to my ...More Button

The benefits of participation in youth work for young people are well documented. As a non-formal learning practice, youth work offers educational, developmental and recreational experiences whic...More Button

My Department will be working closely with the Departments of Education, Social Protection, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, to identify, in what ways, the youth sector can contribute to shared p...More Button

In addition, the contribution of quality youth work to young people’s development, well-being and social inclusion and its contribution to attaining the goals of Europe 2020, in particular the yo...More Button

My Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection on the Government’s activation programme. Funding provided under the community childcare subvention programmes supports the p...More Button

Youth Work Supports

Was asked: the way the findings of the recent Indecon report on youth work will impact on her policies; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I welcome the recent publication of the Economic Assessment of the Value of Youth Work carried out by Indecon on behalf of the National Youth Council of Ireland.More Button

The report illustrates the breadth, depth and value of the youth work sector in Ireland and provides an assessment of the value and contribution of youth work to the economy, to young people them...More Button

Funding of €53.173m has been provided to my Department for the provision of youth services in 2013 through the different schemes which include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects...More Button

40,000 volunteers in 477 youth projects around the country.More Button

My Department is working on the determination of the funding allocations for youth services in 2013 and is seeking to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, effective yout...More Button

There will be no reduction in funding in 2013 for the 1600 local volunteer-led youth clubs and groups which offer quality youth activities for some 100,000 young people throughout the country. T...More Button

My Department is developing proposals to streamline the existing five separate funding lines in 2013 so that youth projects will receive one funding stream allowing more flexibility in setting pr...More Button

I look forward to continued collaboration with the youth sector in implementing the necessary reforms and rationalisation in a way that ensures the realisation of our shared objectives for the pr...More Button

Childcare Education and Training Scheme Places

Was asked: in view of the fact that childcare funding schemes are presenting more demands on childcare services to avail of particular training or have certain competencies, and that in-service training is of...More Button

The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 and provides all pre-school children with equal access to early childhood care and edu...More Button

The only requirement in regard to staff qualifications which is currently required by the ECCE programme, is that Pre-School leaders hold a certification for a major award in childcare/early educ...More Button

Services in which all staff are more highly qualified than the standard requirement, that is where all pre-school leaders hold a full level 7 or higher award, and all pre-school assistants hold a...More Button

Detention Centres

Was asked: the date on which the Oberstown, County Dublin, facility will be fully operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy may be aware I announced on 2 April 2012, following agreement with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, an investment package for the project to expand the detention places...More Button

My officials in the Irish Youth Justice Service continue to work closely to progress this project with the Office of Public Works (OPW). The projected timeline estimate from OPW indicates that t...More Button

The overall redevelopment project for the campus, which will also replace some existing outdated buildings and deliver education, visiting and other ancillary facilities, is currently scheduled f...More Button

  Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 76.More Button

Child Protection Guidelines

Was asked: if she will confirm that all childcare services provided by persons employed outside the child's own home will be subject to the provisions of the Children First Bill; and if she will make a statem...More Button

The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and respon...More Button

Adoption Legislation

Was asked: if, in relation to the promised Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill and access to records by adult victims of illegal adoptions, she will ensure that the rights of the person, against whom a cr...More Button

Was asked: if she will publish a list of the known location of adoption records and ensure that these records are immediately protected and secured.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 98 together.

  I refer to my Department's response to the Deputy's question No. 18 (Ref. 46753/12) of 25th October last which answers the ...More Button

National Children's Strategy

Was asked: if she will list the 20% of actions from the National Children Strategy that have not been completed; and the reason that they have not been completedMore Button

As I stated in a reply to a Parliamentary Question on 25 October 2012, a review of the National Children's Strategy by the Children's Rights Alliance - an independent umbrella group of NGOs which c...More Button

The 23 actions which were not in this category (16.9% of the total) comprised 13 actions (9.6%) where the action had not been achieved at that date, and a further 10 actions (7.4%) where the Alli...More Button

The Alliance is completely independent of my Department and I would not be in a position to say how it might view subsequent progress. However I would note that there are actions where there has...More Button

My Department is drafting a Children and Young Person Policy Framework, which will succeed the National Children's Strategy and has been subject to very extensive public consultation with childre...More Button

Domestic Violence Incidence

Was asked: if she will outline her responsibility in relation to children who require the services of domestic violence shelters; if she will confirm that all domestic violence shelters which cater for childr...More Button

At the outset, I would like to clarify that responsibility for domestic violence rests with COSC, under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. In so far as the HSE provides domestic ...More Button

As regards the application of the HIQA National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children, I wish to outline the position regarding these standards. In July 2010, the Government decide...More Button

HIQA has no role in inspecting domestic violence shelters. The National Standards apply to the HSE Children and Families services in the context of its role in dealing with all referrals to its s...More Button

  Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 84.More Button

Child Poverty

Was asked: if she will report on the recent funding awarded under Budget 2013 to the Preparing for Life Programme in Belcamp, Moatview and Darndale, Dublin 17; the amount of funding that has been awarded to t...More Button

I welcome the new ‘Area Based Approach to Child Poverty’ initiative for which €2.5 million has been provided for in the 2013 Estimates. This investment supports a key Programme for Government obje...More Button

This initiative will build on and continue the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) which supports projects in Tallaght, Ballymun and Darndale. These projects involve a ...More Button

The new initiative reflects the Programme for Government commitment to adopt an area based approach to child poverty in co-operation with philanthropic partners, drawing upon best international p...More Button

It is envisaged that this initiative will be co-funded by a philanthropic organisation and discussions are ongoing to this end. It will not be possible in advance of the completion of these talk...More Button

It is anticipated that discussions will be held with the organisation referred to in the Question in the early part of 2013, regarding funding and services to be delivered as part of this Initiat...More Button

Was asked: the degree to which lack of adequate housing and/or poverty is deemed to impact most particularly on children and adolescents; the extent to which it is anticipated such issues can be isolated and ...More Button

Tackling child poverty is a priority for Government and a goal of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007- 2016, coordinated by the Department of Social Protection. Children are more li...More Button

My Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection in a ‘whole of Government approach’ to tackling poverty in the population. The Department is represented on the Advisory Grou...More Button

The Programme for Government committed to reviewing the homeless strategy, The Way Home: A Strategy to Address Adult Homelessness in Ireland 2008-2013, and to implementing a housing led approach ...More Button

With regard to my own responsibility, my priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children...More Button

This initiative will build on and continue the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) which has supported projects in Tallaght, Ballymun and Darndale, co-funded by my Depa...More Button

The new initiative reflects the Programme for Government commitment to adopt an area based approach to child poverty in co-operation with philanthropic partners, drawing upon best international p...More Button

In line with this commitment, my Department, in conjunction with officials of the Tánaiste, the Ministers for Social Protection, Environment, Community & Local Government, and Education & Skills,...More Button

The new initiative will not simply be a continuation of the PEIP scheme but will instead seek to implement programmes which have already been evaluated and proven to work in improving outcomes fo...More Button

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Was asked: the number of additional social workers for children that will be appointed in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The HSE has made considerable progress over recent years in recruiting additional social workers, with over 260 social workers recruited under the Ryan Implementation Plan at end 2011. More Button

Work is ongoing within the HSE on the disaggregation of the Children and Families resource base from the HSE as part of the process of establishing the Child and Family Support Agency in early 20...More Button

  Question No. 105 answered with Question No. 74.More Button

Child Abuse Issues

Was asked: when the audit produced on foot of the recommendations in the report on the Roscommon Child Care Case will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The audit report was submitted to the HSE’s National Director for Children and Family Services, Mr. Gordon Jeyes at end-October, 2012. The National Director expects to be in a position to publish t...More Button

Foreign Adoptions

Was asked: if she will provide an update in relation to the development of a new bilateral agreement with Russia on adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As Russia has not ratified the Hague Convention future adoptions from Russia, beyond those provided for under the transitional arrangements, may only be possible under a bilateral agreement. The n...More Button

It is the role of the Adoption Authority to make an assessment of whether the intercountry adoption legislation and practices in a non-contracting state, in this case Russia, are in compliance wi...More Button

Youth Services Provision

Was asked: her views on the recent Indecon report on youth work; if it informed any of her policy choices with regard to budget 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I welcome the recent publication of the Economic Assessment of the Value of Youth Work carried out by Indecon on behalf of the National Youth Council of Ireland. The report illustrates the breadth...More Button

Funding of €53.173m has been provided to my Department for the provision of youth services in 2013 through the different schemes which include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects...More Button

My Department is working on the determination of the funding allocations for youth services in 2013 and is seeking to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, the funding available supports ...More Button

My Department is developing proposals to streamline the existing five separate funding lines in 2013 so that youth projects will receive one funding stream allowing more flexibility in setting pr...More Button

Was asked: if she is satisfied in regard to the extent to which her Department has put in place the necessary services, including outreach services, to meet the current and ongoing requirements of youth with ...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which her Department has identified the issues currently most likely to affect young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if in the context of youth services for the future, she has in mind any particular proposals to identify, address and resolve the concerns of young people most likely to be affected by feelings of ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 575 to 577, inclusive, together.

  The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the yo...More Button

Was asked: the extent, if any, she has had discussions with other Departments in the context of the co-ordination of children and youth services and support of parents in such a context; and if she will make ...More Button

As Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, it is part of my remit to work with other Ministers to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.More Button

Budget 2013 announced two new areas where this partnership approach has been adopted. One of these concerns the provision of subsidised after-school childcare places for low income parents enter...More Button

This joint initiative will provide over 6,000 afterschool childcare places for children in primary school. This will begin with a pilot scheme in early 2013. The places will be targeted at low-...More Button

The second cross-departmental initiative announced in the Budget that I have been involved with, and which will be led by my Department, is an Area-based Approach to Child Poverty, for which €2.5...More Button

This initiative will build on and continue the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) which has supported projects in Tallaght, Ballymun and Darndale, co-funded by my Depa...More Button

The new initiative reflects the Programme for Government commitment to adopt an area based approach to child poverty in co-operation with philanthropic partners, drawing upon best international p...More Button

In line with this commitment, my Department, in conjunction with officials of the Tánaiste, the Ministers for Social Protection, Environment, Community & Local Government, and Education & Skills,...More Button

The new initiative will not simply be a continuation of the PEIP scheme but will instead seek to implement programmes which have already been evaluated and proven to work in improving outcomes fo...More Button

At a local level, my Department has responsibility for the development of Children’s Services Committees (CSCs). These bring together a diverse group of agencies in local county areas to engage ...More Button

The membership of CSCs includes senior managers from the major statutory providers of services for children and families. The Chairperson of each CSC is either the HSE Local Health Area Manager ...More Button

The forthcoming Children and Young People's Policy Framework will address the further development of these Committees.More Button

Ministerial Meetings

Was asked: the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which she sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings she attended; the numbe...More Button

In my role as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I am a member of the EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of Ministers. Since my appointment as Minister for Children and Youth Aff...More Button

Family Support Services

Was asked: her views on the future of a resource centre (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Family Support Agency provides support for families under the Family Resource Centre (FRC) Programme. The aim is to combat disadvantage and improve the functioning of the family unit. Key ser...More Button

Was asked: if she will consider granting formal representation to the Family Resource Centre network on the board of the proposed Child and Family Support Agency in view of the excellent work they do and serv...More Button

The composition of the Board of the Child and Family Support Agency is currently under consideration. While the composition of the Board will reflect the component organisations which are being am...More Button

Preschool Services

Was asked: her proposals to extend the provision of free early childhood education for a second year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 and provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. In...More Button

In 2011, the ECCE programme cost approximately €163 million. Additional funding was made available for 2012 when the cost of the programme is expected to rise to €176 million to cater for changi...More Button

I am aware of the need to further develop the early childhood care and education sector. However, any development that involved further pre-school provision would require considerable additional...More Button

Future developments relating to early years care and education are being considered as part of the preparation of the National Early Years Strategy which is expected to be completed in the first ...More Button

Child Care Costs

Was asked: her plans for the provision of quality affordable childcare throughout the country; the assistance that is in place for parents availing of childcare services in their own homes; and if she will ma...More Button

My Department currently provides support to parents to assist them with the cost of childcare. This support is provided through the provision of two targeted childcare support programmes - the Com...More Button

Children and Family Services

Was asked: the degree to which she and her Department has identified the full extent and range of children’s and youth support services required now and in the future having regard to the experience of the pa...More Button

My Department supports the provision of a wide range of services and supports for children, young people and families. The overall budget for my Department for these services for 2012 is €406.407 ...More Button

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs improving outcomes for children and young people is my primary objective. Early childhood care and education programmes are priorities to enhance child...More Button

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €58.306 million is available in 2012 to support the prov...More Button

The services provided by the National Educational Welfare Board to support children and young people to benefit from and remain in the education system, the care and education services provided i...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she expects to be in a position to provide the necessary legislative and/or support services for children and their parents in the aftermath of the Children’s Referendum; and if...More Button

As a result of Budget 2013 I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the gross funding allocation for my Department next year will amount to €443 million which represents an increase of €16 million or...More Button

There are implications in terms of both policy and legislation attaching to the proposal to amend the Constitution, with a significant body of work likely to be involved in amending existing legi...More Button

Some of the principles in the Constitutional amendment are already reflected in statute law, such as the principle of “best interests”. This ‘best interest’ principle is already well-established...More Button

In terms of the Deputy’s core question, the question of resources, everyone in this House will be aware that we are all operating in an environment of very constrained resources. This is the rea...More Button

The focus of the Agency will be on early intervention and family support services, aimed at delivering 'proportionate' responses to child welfare concerns and to protect children in the home, as ...More Button

In addition, I am pleased to say that the new ‘Area Based Approach to Child Poverty’ initiative for which €2.5 million has been provided for in the 2013 Estimates, will build on and continue the ...More Button

In conclusion, I can assure the Deputy that follow through on the proposal to amend the Constitution is a top priority for me, and I will make the necessary resources available within my Departme...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she had identified deficiencies in services for children and youth; her proposals to address such matters in the short, medium and long-term; and if she will make a statement on...More Button

Under Section 8 of the Child Care Act, 1991 the Health Service Executive (HSE) prepares an annual report on the adequacy of child care and family support services, known as the "Review of Adequacy ...More Button

The Health Service Executive also compiles and publishes monthly, quarterly and annual performance reports which include statistics in relation to child welfare and protection.More Button

The annual Review of Adequacy Reports, along with the ongoing performance monitoring provide a detailed picture of service delivery and serve to highlight deficiencies in services and inform poli...More Button

Child Protection Issues

Was asked: the current procedures to deal with children at risk; the sequence of events following a report from whatever quarter in such matters; the average length of time taken to deal with any issues arisi...More Button

The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and respon...More Button