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 Header Item School Completion Programme (Continued)
 Header Item National Carers' Strategy
 Header Item Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Order for Report Stage
 Header Item Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Report Stage

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 893 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy James Reilly: Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly] In line with the Department's recently published national strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making, it is important that children at risk of educational disadvantage and their families are consulted in order that their perspective is heard on the supports available and the way in which these can be enhanced. This is critical to the success of the programme as those who have completed it know best how it can be improved. For this reason, they must be listened to. A number of other issues are also covered.

The establishment of Tusla with its educational welfare programmes, alongside its broader focus on child and family welfare, presents an opportunity to shape more effective policy and practice to address educational disadvantage.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton I thank the Minister for his response, on which I have three brief questions. Does he agree that flexibility is needed in resource allocation for the various projects or clusters? Will he indicate the scope of the review of existing provision for younger students given the importance of early years intervention? Will he commit to maintaining or perhaps increasing funding for this important programme?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Obviously, we want flexibility as different things work in different areas, not only in educational disadvantage but many other areas of Government policy. What will work in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will not necessarily work in Lusk and certainly will not work in Leitir Móir, County Galway. For this reason, flexibility is required and will be part of the future programme. I apologise as I did not hear the Deputy's second question. He referred to the scope of something.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton I asked about the review of existing provision for younger students which was recommended given the importance of early years intervention. Younger students are part of early years intervention at that level. I also asked a question about funding.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I will revert to the Deputy on his question concerning a review. On funding, I made my commitment to the school completion programme very clear last year when we protected the funding available for it. All Departments are continually asked to ring-fence funding for one programme or another. However, ring-fencing funds reduces the scope for other areas of activity which may be just as important. While I attach great importance to the school completion programme, I will shy away from making any commitments until I see Tusla's business plan. The school completion programme is critical because it is very difficult for children who have fallen out of the educational system to take advantage of education later in life. As a result, they lose years in terms of being able to progress, making themselves more employable and enjoying better opportunities in life, which is what we want.

National Carers' Strategy

 10. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his assessment of the level of support that is currently available to young carers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35325/15]

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl If Deputy Flanagan does not mind, we will proceed directly to the reply because there are only two minutes remaining. The Deputy will have an opportunity to ask a supplementary question.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The national carers strategy is led by the Department of Health. Many Departments, including my Department, have a role to play in its implementation. Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the national policy framework for children and young people for 2014 to 2020, was launched in April 2014. One of the key policy priorities under outcome 5 - connected, respected and contributing to their world - is to ensure positive networks of family, friends and communities. Children and young people may experience difficulties maintaining friendships, education and employment due to the need for them to take on caring responsibilities within their families. This was recognised in the national youth strategy, which I launched on 8 October 2015 for all young people aged between ten and 24 years. I am pleased that representatives of the Carers Association participated in the consultation process in the development of this strategy.

  The Child and Family Agency Act 2013 brings together a range of existing services for children and families in one agency. Tusla's functions include maintaining and developing services to support and promote the development, welfare and protection of children and support effective functioning of families. Tusla's child protection and welfare practice handbook provides guidance to social workers in working with young carers.

  In terms of developing referral pathways to supports, the Meitheal methodology for early identification of need is a valuable aid. Tusla is working with the HSE to implement its actions under the national carers strategy implementation plan.

  In addition, Tusla's educational welfare service has completed national guidelines as a practical support for schools in the preparation of school attendance strategies. The guidelines will assist schools to implement effective measures to support children at risk of poor attendance and participation, including those with caring responsibilities. They are being published and it is intended that they will be circulated to schools very shortly.

  To learn more about children who undertake caring roles, my Department requested the Central Statistics Office to help to identify the extent to which children have caring responsibilities. Under the national strategy for research and data on children's lives, analysis of figures in the 2011 census will help to inform future policy as to how best to address the support needs of children and young people who undertake caring roles. This analysis will be published in early 2016.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I ask Deputy Terence Flanagan to put all supplementary questions now.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan I thank the Minister for his response. According to the census, 8,500 vulnerable children are dealing with caring responsibilities while attending school. What plans are in place to increase supports to this group of children, especially those who are highly vulnerable? How does Ireland compare with other jurisdictions regarding supports?

  The Minister referred to the Children and Family Agency's national guidelines which will be published shortly in respect of the 2015-16 academic year. Will they be published before Christmas?

  The Minister met representatives of the Carers Association in 2014. Does he have plans to meet the association again to discuss this specific issue?

  I welcome the changes made in the recent budget to help and support carers generally. However, as the Minister will no doubt agree, carers, especially vulnerable young carers, require greater attention.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly For the purposes of clarity, the analysis will be published in early 2016 and, as such, not before Christmas. I reiterate that the national carers strategy is led by the Department of Health, although my Department has a role in it, as it does in many different Departments. The issue of supports is one that would be more appropriate to the Department of Health.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Order for Report Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Report Stage

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jerry Buttimer): Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Amendments Nos. 1, 5, 81 to 87, inclusive, 121 and 148 form a composite proposal and may be discussed together by agreement.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I move amendment No. 1:

In page 9, lines 13 to 16, to delete all words from and including "to" in line 13 down to and including "persons;" in line 16.

The amendments in this group propose the deletion from the Bill of the informal decision-making provisions about which Deputy Mac Lochlainn expressed concerns. Amendment No. 1 arises from amendments Nos. 81 and 84 which delete Part 8 which provides for informal decision-making. Amendment No. 1 removes reference to informal decision-making from the Long Title. Amendment No. 5 is consequential and arises from amendments Nos. 81 and 84. It removes references to informal decision-making from the definition of "intervention" in section 2.

  Amendments Nos. 81 and 84 propose the removal of the provisions on informal decision-making.


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