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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 969-988
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Payments
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Milk Quota Applications
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Missing Children
 Header Item Preschool Services
 Header Item Adoption Issues
 Header Item HSE Funding
 Header Item Preschool Standards
 Header Item Child Care Services Regulation
 Header Item UN Convention on Children's Rights
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Family Support Services

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 819 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 111 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 969-988

Agriculture Schemes Payments

 969. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their single farm payment; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47010/13]

 970. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their disadvantaged area scheme payment; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47011/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 969 and 970 together.

  An application under 2013 Single Payment / Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 29 April 2013. Processing of the application has recently been finalised and payments will shortly issue, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 971. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a REP scheme 4 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47027/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in June 2008 and received payments for the first five years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the Rural Development Programme, 2007-2013 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before payments can issue. The administrative checks are nearing completion. Arrangements are well advanced to issue payments in respect of 2013 and I expect that these payments will commence in November.

Milk Quota Applications

 972. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a milk quota in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47028/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney On 30 August 2013 I announced details of the fifteenth Milk Quota Trading Scheme which is the first of two Trading Schemes to allocate quota in respect of the 2014/2015 milk quota year. The closing date for receipt of applications to this stage was 11 October last. I can confirm that my Department has received an application to purchase quota from the person named.

All applications are currently being processed and I expect to be in a position to announce the results of the scheme in early December. As I mentioned earlier, this scheme is in respect of the 2014/2015 milk quota year, and consequently any quota purchased under this scheme will not be available to the purchaser until 1 April 2014.

Departmental Expenditure

 973. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide in tabular form the partial year and the full year monetary effect of his Department's Budget 2014 reductions to expenditure. [47070/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is understood that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is planning to publish the detailed 2014 Revised Estimates Volume 2014 in early December.

As in previous years, it is the practice of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to expand further on the information contained in the Revised Estimates Volume by publishing a more detailed tabular statement of budget figures on its website to coincide with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform’s publication. The information to be put up on the website will contain a comparison between 2014 and 2013.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 974. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding area based payments in respect of a person (details supplied); when payment will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47096/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As processing of the application of the person named under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme has recently been finalised, payment will issue shortly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 975. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47127/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A review of the area declared by the person named under Single Payment in 2013 revealed significant ineligible areas on foot of which the person named was written to by my Department in a letter dated 20 September 2013.

  He subsequently appealed the decision and the matter is currently under review.

Missing Children

 976. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald further to Parliamentary Question No. 254 of 27 March 2013, when she will supply the requested figures of missing unaccompanied asylum seekers' minors [46467/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The immediate and ongoing needs of separated children seeking asylum are the responsibility of the HSE in accordance with the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) and the Child Care Act, 1991.

  Where Children are identified as unaccompanied minors by An Garda Siochána their circumstances are investigated, and where there are concerns about their welfare they are received into the care of the HSE under the Child Care Act 1991. They are allocated a social worker, their needs are assessed and a Care Plan is developed. These children are generally placed in a foster care family placement, although some older children are placed in regulated residential facilities that cater for small numbers. The overall number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum has decreased significantly in recent years.

  The following table sets out the number of separated children seeking asylum in Ireland that have gone missing on a yearly basis between 2005 and 2012; and the number of these children's whereabouts that remains unknown.

Year Number of children placed in care Total number of missing child notifications made to Gardai Missing children found or accounted for Number of reported children still missing at year end even if over 18
2005
180
65
14
51
2006
188
53
6
47
2007
130
32
12
20
2008
156
22
5
17
2009
126
48
10
38
2010
70
10
7
3
2011
66
8
2
6
2012
48
5
3
2

Preschool Services

 977. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will qualify for the free one year preschool place; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [46742/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The child referred to by the Deputy will qualify for the free pre-school provision under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme in the school year commencing in September 2016.

Adoption Issues

 978. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the progress that has been made regarding an adoption agreement between Ireland and India; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46931/13]

 986. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if an Irish accredited agency has been approved by CARA to work on adoptions in India; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45776/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 978 and 986 together.

On 14 March 14 I led a delegation, which included the Chairman of the Adoption Authority of Ireland and a Department official, on a visit to India. This visit afforded me the opportunity to assess the position in relation to inter-country adoption in India.

As part of this visit, I was able to clarify issues in relation to inter-country adoption between Ireland and India and the requirements of the Indian authorities in that regard. I was advised that registration is now open with CARA for special needs cases; this includes children with intellectual or physical disabilities, siblings including twins, and children over 5 years of age. The issue of the Indian authorities' acceptance of an Irish accredited agency was also discussed and the Indian authorities were positively disposed in this matter. It was explained that India currently operates inter-country adoption with other Hague countries without the need for any specific administrative agreements of the type envisaged in Article 72 of the Adoption Act 2010.

The Adoption Authority has advised that it is its view that a registered accredited body to facilitate inter-country adoption is necessary. The AAI will consider any applications it receives in this regard.

HSE Funding

 979. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the reason Health Service Executive funding was given to an agency (details supplied) in 2011 when it was not an accredited organisation; and the action that was taken following information on an investigation carried out by the Adoption Authority into its accounts being passed on to the HSE.  [47048/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As this is a service matter for which the HSE has responsibility, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Preschool Standards

 980. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when the new national pre-school quality standards will be launched; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45673/13]

 981. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide detail on the increase in minimum qualification requirements for childcare staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45674/13]

 982. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when the new pre-school laws to establish statutory registration of preschool services and new powers of inspectors to ensure standards are met will be introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45656/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 980 to 982, inclusive, together.

Legislation to strengthen the current inspection regime and underpin the Pre-School Quality Agenda is expected to be enacted before the end of the year. This legislation will provide a statutory basis for registration of pre-school services and will introduce a range of new enforcement powers for Inspectors at pre-prosecution level. Under the proposed new system, all pre-school services will have to be registered in order to operate. Inspectors will be empowered to specify improvement conditions that a service must comply with; and the threat of removal of registration will be available. This system will, for the first time, provide for timely and effective regulation and enforcement of standards in pre-school services, backed up by statutory registration.

New National Quality Standards for pre-school services will be launched before the end of the year. These Standards will complement the existing Pre-School Regulations replacing previous explanatory notes; and will set out the quality outcomes and supporting criteria against which inspection under the pre-school regulations will be measured.

On foot of Budget 2014, I will be allocating €4.5m in Exchequer funding to support the implementation of the Pre-School Quality Agenda which will seek to support and assure higher standards in pre-school services. Of this funding, €1.5m is provided to support staff training to meet the new qualification requirements recently announced by my Department. The current minimum requirement of Level 5 for pre-school leaders delivering the pre-school year will be increased to Level 6. In addition, all pre-school assistants, and all other staff caring for children in a new pre-school service, will be subject to a minimum requirement of Level 5. These requirements will be effective from September 2014 for new services and from September 2015 for existing services.

Child Care Services Regulation

 983. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide a numerical figure for the number of children cared for by child minders; the percentage of these child minders that are subject to inspections; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45711/13]

 984. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she could provide, in tabular form, the yearly breakdown of the number of childminders who have taken the quality awareness programmes since it was launched in 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45712/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 983 and 984 together.

Pre-school services in Ireland, which includes childminding services, are governed by Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991 and by the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006.

  Section 51 of the Child Care Act 1991 outlines the category of childcare providers that must notify their service to the HSE and that are subject to the Regulations and to inspection. Section 58 of the Act provides for exemptions for certain categories of childminders from the provisions of Section 51 and the services exempted under this section are not required to give notice to the HSE of their service.

  Childminders who are not subject to the requirement to notify are, however, encouraged to voluntarily notify their service to their local City or County Childcare Committee which provides a range of supports to enable them to improve the standards of their childcare service. These supports include the Childminders Tax Exemption scheme which provides for a tax exemption for those childminders who have satisfactorily participated in the Voluntary Notification process and whose annual income from childminding does not exceed €15,000. Despite these supports the number of childminders who opted to voluntarily notify their services only reached approximately 1,250 in 2011.   

  While my Department continues to actively promote the notification of childminding services and the participation of childminders in quality and training programmes, parents continue to enter into informal arrangements with childminders who are outside the scope of the Regulations. There are no means available to my Department to establish the number of childminders, providing childcare from their own homes, who are not subject to the Regulations and who have chosen not to participate in the voluntary notification process, or to establish the number of children availing of these services.

  The number of Childminder participants in the Quality Awareness Programme, provided to my Department by Pobal and based on the City/County Childcare Committee Annual Progress Reports, is as follows:

Childminder Participants Amount
at 30 June 2013 197
2012 339
2011 475
2010 767
2009 1,045
2008 1,059
2007 942
2006 1,049
2005 1,284
Total 7,157
  In addition I have, in recent weeks, received the report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Early Years Strategy. The report includes a recommendation on an extension of regulation of childminders. I am currently reviewing this recommendation ahead of finalisation of the Early Years Strategy.

UN Convention on Children's Rights

 985. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if the third and fourth State reports have been finalised and sent to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; and, if not, when the reports will be finalised [45715/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The State's consolidated Third and Fourth Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, was submitted to that Committee on 2nd August 2013.

  Question No. 986 answered with Question No. 978.

Child Poverty

 987. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her views on the following case in relation to submissions to the area based response to child poverty initiative (details supplied).  [45902/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department is implementing the new Area Based Childhood (ABC) programme which was announced as part of Budget 2013. The programme is being introduced on foot of the Programme for Government commitment to adopt an area-based approach to child poverty, drawing on best international practice and existing services to break the cycle of child poverty where it is most deeply entrenched, and improve the outcomes for children and young people. The programme is being co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and is expected to have a total funding allocation of up to €29.7 million. The programme will build on and continue much of the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) which was also implemented by my Department and co-funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

In addition to the three PEIP sites, I am expecting that at least 3 new sites will participate in the new programme. It is also my intention to broaden the impact of the programme by beginning the process of mainstreaming some of the evidence-based programmes which have been positively evaluated and are cost-effective. The establishment of my Department's Child and Family Agency in the coming months will be important to this process.

Applications to participate in the programme were invited from interested not for profit consortia earlier this year. Fifty applications were received. Last July the Government approved the transition of the three sites which participated in the PEIP into the new programme. The programme is seeking to finalize contracts with the PEIP sites in the near future.

The remaining applications were reviewed by a Working Group led by my Department, using criteria set out in the application process. The recommendations of the Working Group have been considered by the Project Team which is overseeing the new programme and are expected to be considered by the Government in the coming weeks. Successful applicants will be invited to progress to the next, more detailed stage of the process which, if successfully completed, will be followed by contract stage and entry to the programme.

Family Support Services

 988. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if adequate support services are in place to support a family (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will outline the further practical and financial support available in this instance.  [45903/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy is advised that details of this case have been brought to the attention of the HSE Social Work Department in West Cork under the 2011 Children First: National Guidance for the Welfare and Protection of Children.

  The HSE has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of children, under the Child Care Act, 1991. Following an initial assessment the HSE will be best placed to assess the needs of this family, including any family support or welfare assistance that may be required.


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