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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015

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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015\Second Stage
Bills\Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015\Second Stage

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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015

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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015
Bills
Snippet Contents:

While it is likely that providers would welcome such a visit, there is no compulsory provision for it currently and the inspector would have to rely on the consent of the provider.
I am satisfied that these provisions will form an additional safeguard to ensure that preschool premises are fit for purpose and will support the care and education of the young children in the service. The provisions will also facilitate preschool providers in understanding what is required of them in terms of the provision of appropriate facilities.
Section 10 amends the Child Care Act 1991 to allow the Child and Family Agency to refuse to register a proposed provider who refuses permission to an authorised person to enter a premises for a pre-registration visit. Section 11 amends the 1991 Act to allow the agency to cause to be visited premises where it is proposed to carry on an early years service to ascertain if the premises comply with Part VIIA of that Act. Section 12 amends the Act to permit an authorised person to visit premises where it is proposed to carry on an early years service in order to ascertain if the premises comply with Part VIIA of that Act.
A number of amendments of a technical nature are required by the enactment of the Child and Family Agency Act 2013 to a number of Acts that were amended by it. Section 13 and Part 1 of Schedule 1 provide for technical amendments to the Child Care Act 1991. Section 14 and Part 2 of Schedule 1 provide for technical amendments to other Acts. Section 15 and Schedule 2 provide for a small number of repeals.
This Bill underpins significant initiatives and reforms that have taken place in recent years, which have been developed with the goal of improving aftercare services so as to deliver better outcomes for young people leaving the care of the State. A key focus of the Child and Family Agency service reform and improvement is the continued enhancement of leaving and aftercare services, which began with the development of a national leaving and aftercare policy in 2011 in co-operation with the key stakeholders, including the voluntary sector agencies representing children in care and those services involved in aftercare provision. There have been significant improvements in the delivery of aftercare services since the introduction of that policy. In implementing it, the agency has prioritised the development of dedicated aftercare services in each area, the standardisation of a range of financial packages, the introduction of interagency aftercare steering committees at local level and the further development of the provision of information on aftercare services. The Child and Family Agency continues to review its current policy to reflect legislative changes. In so doing, it will continue to work in partnership with those that represent the views of children in care and foster carers.
In examining our care and social services, we all too often focus on the negative, a deficit reporting model, as it were. It is this form of negative outlook that, while in many cases based on fact, is transmitted for public consumption. However, it is fair to say that progress is being made in the provision of aftercare services. As one example of good practice, the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, recently found the aftercare service provided to young people in the Galway-Roscommon area to be excellent. In its inspection report on the foster care service in that area, HIQA found that the outcomes for children leaving care were excellent, with some remaining with foster carers and others placed in supported lodgings. Every young adult in aftercare had an aftercare worker and a written aftercare plan that was of good quality. Almost all of those in aftercare were attending third level education or training of some kind. This is the standard to which we aspire for all young people leaving the care of the State and tangible proof that the changes made to date are progressing as we would wish. I remind the House that, one decade ago, the delivery of aftercare services was unstructured and inconsistent. We have made significant progress in the interim. This Bill builds on that success.
Overall, the Bill attempts to take account of the need for a degree of nuance in planning for leaving care for young people at a time that is appropriate and sensitive to the young person's particular needs. The intention is to ensure that these preparations take place in good time to allow a young person to participate in the preparations, which is critical, ensure that the young person can prepare himself or herself for changes that may be occurring and ensure that the necessary supports can be identified and, subject to availability, put in place.
I thank Senators for their support for and engagement with the Bill. I look forward to our debate and I commend the Bill to the House.