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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 126-131
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Funding
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Self-Harm Incidence

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 904 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 126-131

Child and Family Agency Funding

 126. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the European Union Directive 2004/18/EC will have consequences for funding for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, given that proposals have been made to introduce a commissioning process which will introduce competition rather than co-operation between services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [3343/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is developing a strategy for the future commissioning of services. The strategy will be based on a comprehensive needs analysis and review of current service provision. It will take account of the total resources available to the Agency, the statutory duties assigned under legislation and services that can best be provided by partner agencies and statutory organisations to support the continuum of care at local and national level.

I welcome the preparatory work which has been done to date by Tusla in this regard and the engagement with key stakeholders across different service delivery areas. Tusla will have regard to the provisions of the European Union Directive as it progresses this initiative. It is important that the approach adopted ensures the best possible use of resources, ensures that services commissioned in the future are aligned with the strategic objectives of the Agency, maximises outcomes for children and families and improves the users’ experience of services. The approach adopted must also provide a platform for ensuring efficient, affordable services into the future.

Tusla intends to move from a traditional grant-giving approach to a more targeted commissioning of services. Through the commissioning approach Tusla will establish a contractual relationship with service providers, while aligning funding with its strategic priorities.

I understand the concerns of some service providers in regard to Tusla’s plan to introduce commissioning. Tusla recognises that new approaches to commissioning need to be communicated properly.

The approach being followed is one of partnership, and Tusla will engage with other statutory partners and respect the unique role of community and voluntary organisations, including small scale providers.

I have asked Tusla to provide me with regular updates on the Commissioning Strategy, including clarity on the pace of the proposed reforms and the associated communication strategy.

Family Resource Centres

 127. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he is aware that family resource centres have stated that they have to raise funds to cover the cost of light, heat, rent and so on in addition to raising funds for programmes and services; if he will address this barrier to providing prevention and early intervention work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3344/16]

 128. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly to ensure more funding for all projects under the family resource programme, so that each centre can employ three full-time equivalent staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3345/16]

 129. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his Department will retain the national aspect of the family resource centre programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3346/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 to 129, inclusive, together.

There are currently 109 communities supported through the Family Resource Centre Programme which is funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The Family Resource Centre Programme is a national programme with its own dedicated budget. Tusla provides core funding to Family Resource Centres to cover the employment of two to three members of staff and some overhead costs. In 2015, Tusla provided €13.09m in funding for the Family Resource Centre Programme.

Family Resource Centres (FRCs) are front-line services rooted in the communities they serve. Acting as a focal point within their communities, Family Resource Centres provide a holistic service of child, family and community support and advocacy to all children and families in their communities. While Family Resource Centres operate an open-door policy and provide many services and development opportunities at a universal level, they also proactively target specific cohorts within their communities.

Tusla fully appreciates the role that Family Resource Centres play in offering early intervention support to families in difficulty. Tusla has advised that it intends to build on the strengths of the FRC Programme in the years ahead in meeting its mandate for community-based early intervention and family support. The Agency recognises the benefits that additional funding can bring to an FRC. Tusla has also advised that it intends to review the funding and resource allocation model as it applies to Family Resource Centres this year. This review will take account of any significant resource pressures, should they arise.

As the Deputy will be aware, I announced a significant increase in the funding allocation to Tusla for this year. Tusla has available to it some €676 million in funding, representing an increase of €38 million over 2015. This increase in funding will allow Tusla to address critical shortcomings such as the number of children and families awaiting services.

Following recent approval of the Tusla Business Plan for 2016, Tusla has advised that the precise level of funding to be provided to Family Support Centres will be communicated in the near future.

The Government, since its establishment, has attached particular priority to supporting vulnerable children and families and the significant increase in funding being made available to Tusla this year represents further evidence of our delivery on this ambition.

Child and Family Agency Staff Recruitment

 130. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of new social workers Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will recruit in 2016 further to its budget 2016 increase; the average cost of employing an entry grade social worker with the agency.  [3420/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I have allocated extra funding of €6.1m to Tusla to address risk associated with unallocated child protection and welfare cases. This funding will be used to recruit an additional 201 staff in 2016, 168 of which will be social workers. The remaining staff will be recruited to provide important related business support functions such as clerical and ICT supports. The cost for each additional entry grade social worker is estimated at €45,000 (whole year cost) which includes employers' PRSI.

Self-Harm Incidence

 131. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has major concerns regarding increased incidences of self-harming among young boys; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [3365/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch In 2014, the National Registry for Deliberate Self-Harm recorded 11,126 presentations to hospital due to self-harm nationally, involving 8,708 individuals. The self-harm rate, 200 per 100,000 of the population, was essentially unchanged from 2013. This levelling off follows three successive decreases in the rate of persons presenting to hospital following self-harm from 2011 – 2013. The only significant change in the rate of hospital-treated self-harm by age was among boys aged 10-14 years, where the self-harm rate increased by 44% from 34 to 49 per 100,000. Since 2007, the male rate has increased significantly, by 14%, whereas the female rate is less than 1% higher than in 2007.

  The HSE Mental Health Division has a multifaceted response to people at risk of self-harm or who have had a self-harm episode including referral by GP to Community Mental Health Teams for the appropriate service; liaison psychiatry services onsite in Model 3 and 4 and acute hospitals; a comprehensive mental health on-call service in Emergency Departments in the acute hospitals for people presenting in crisis during the on-call period; self-harm clinical specialist nurses in a number of Emergency Departments; the Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) Initiative by which GPs can refer directly to SCAN Nurses for assessment and advice on management of their patients who attend their surgeries with suicidal ideation. In each of these settings, a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment is carried out together with an assessment of mental state and a risk assessment for suicide. On the basis of this, a care plan is drawn up and the next steps depend on the psychosocial stresses identified together with the presence or absence of a mental illness such as depression.

  Community Child & Adolescent Mental Health teams are the first line of specialist mental health services for children and young people. There are currently 67 Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Teams and 3 liaison services nationally. The multidisciplinary team, under the clinical direction of a Consultant Child & Adolescent psychiatrist, includes junior medical staff, psychologists, social workers, nurses, speech & language therapist, occupational therapist and child care workers. The assessment and intervention provided by such teams is determined by the severity and complexity of the presenting problem(s). This range of disciplines and skills offer a care and treatment package geared to individual needs.

  The upward trend in self-harm among young boys is concerning and highlights the on-going need for prevention and intervention programmes to be implemented at national level.   In this regard, the HSE in its National Service Plan for 2016 commits to “Develop early intervention and prevention services, in collaboration with primary care and NGO providers, to ensure that children and young people can access assessments and interventions, including access to counselling and psychology, at the appropriate stage to prevent and reduce escalation to secondary care mental health service and as recommended in Healthy Ireland and Connecting for Life.  " Funding is also being provided this year for the provision of three new Jigsaw youth mental health services in Cork, Dublin and Limerick.

  The HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) helps to support a wide array of work in communities, in partnership with the voluntary sector, across the country that focus on promoting positive mental health and reducing suicide and self-harm by providing significant grant funding each year, as well as by assisting in coordinating and giving strategic direction to the work undertaken in this area. NOSP supports a range of services for teenagers and young people including Pieta House, SpunOut.ie ReachOut.com/Inspire Ireland, BeLongTo. The 24 hour call services provided by the Samaritans and Childline are available to any young person in distress and are also funded by the NOSP. In addition, the NOSP also worked closely with the Department of Education and Skills in the development of Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Well-Being in Primary and Post Primary Schools.


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