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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 38 - 54
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Data
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Foster Care Provision
 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports
 Header Item Family Support Services
 Header Item Adoption Records Provision
 Header Item Youth Services Provision
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Services
 Header Item Affordable Childcare Scheme Data
 Header Item Departmental Programmes
 Header Item Mental Health Services Provision
 Header Item Youth Work Projects Funding

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 38 - 54

Child Care Services

 38. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on dramatically reducing the cost of child care to parents while also increasing wages of workers in the child care sector; the steps she will take to achieve this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43757/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The cost of childcare continues to be a major issue facing parents in Ireland. We remain the most expensive in the OECD. To alleviate some of this financial burden, I introduced a range of supports in September to make childcare more affordable for families, including a new universal subsidy for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years of age, or until they are eligible for ECCE. This amounts to as much as €80 a month or €1,040 per year for children in full time childcare. In addition, subsidies provided under existing childcare schemes, specifically the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Schemes have been increased significantly, in some cases by as much as 50%. Eligible parents can access as much as €7,500 per child per year under the CCS. The full second year of ECCE will also assist parents somewhat from September 2018.

In addition to measures aimed at affordability I am also seeking to address issues relating to quality service provision. I increased ECCE capitation by 7%, the first increase since ECCE was introduced in 2010. I also secured a total of €18 million for 'programme support payments' for service providers to assist them with the administrative burden of delivering the various childcare schemes.

I am acutely aware that pay and conditions for the Early Years workforce are highly inadequate. In this regard I am conscious of the fact that while my Department is not the employer of Childcare professionals, it is a major funder and I will be supportive of efforts made by the sector to move this issue forward possibly by a Sectoral Employment Order with the Labour Court.

I am pleased that the 'Independent Review of the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare' has been commissioned by my Department, Crowe Howarth will soon begin to examine the costs faced by childcare providers in delivering quality childcare. This will include a survey of childcare providers. Following completion, the review is intended to be used to strengthen the evidence base underpinning future policy development and investment in early years. It will feed into future policy development that will address both the cost of childcare for parents and the quality of service delivery which is greatly affected by the terms and conditions of the workforce.

Child and Family Agency Data

 39. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of referrals made to Tusla across all abuse categories in each of the years 2011 to 2016; the procedures that are followed following a referral to Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43445/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In 2016 there was a total of 47,630 referrals made to Tusla. Following Tusla's initial review of each referral, just over 19,000 were deemed to be a concern about abuse. These referrals relate to physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect, and multiple referrals can relate to the same child.

   Last year, thirty-six per cent of referrals were for emotional abuse, sixteen per cent for sexual abuse, twenty-three per cent for physical abuse and twenty-five per cent related to neglect. The Table of referrals for 2011-2016 is included for circulation in the text of my answer. This shows an increase in total referrals from 2011 to 2016 of 50%.

  Once Tusla confirms a referral relates to a concern about abuse, the first consideration is always the immediate safety of the child, and emergency action is taken if it is necessary to protect the child.

  Where abuse is suspected, all matters are referred to the Gardaí in line with Children First: National Guidance. If children are believed to have been abused and to be at ongoing risk of significant harm, a Child Protection Conference can take place. The aim of this is to develop a plan with the child, their parents, and the professional network that helps keep the child safe from future harm.

  If the Conference finds that the child is at ongoing risk of significant harm, they are placed on the Child Protection Notification System. This is an active national record of every child about whom there are ongoing child protection concerns.

  The additional €40m funding I have secured for Tusla in the 2018 Budget will support the continued implementation of child protection services. Tusla aims to provide a proportionate and timely response to children at risk or in need. Where appropriate, responsibility and control will be shared with families and communities by developing joint solutions and through interagency collaboration.

Child Protection referrals made to Tusla by category 2011 - 2016
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
All Referrals 31,626 40,187 41,599 43,630 43,596 47,399
Child Protection Referrals 15,818 19,044 19,407 18,676 18,235 19,087
By Category:            
Physical Abuse 3,033   4,330 4,066 3,991 4,450
Emotional Abuse 4,001   5,271 6,233 6,535 6,870
Sexual Abuse 3,326   3,385 3,114 2,940 3,042
Neglect 5,458   6,421 5,263 4,769 4,724


  Please note that the breakdown by category is not available for 2012.

  Question No. 40 answered orally.

Child Protection

 41. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the degree to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the response to children at risk in the home or in care, having particular regard to the need to ensure early intervention and follow up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43735/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection.

Tusla provides a continuum of prevention and early intervention care supports to children and their families who are experiencing difficulties. Approximately 60% of all referrals to Tusla require this type of support.

Tusla has made real progress in dealing with cases where children, identified as needing a social worker are waiting for a specific social worker to be allocated to them. This will remain a top priority for the Child and Family Agency. My Department and I will continue to support them in their efforts. I am very pleased to have been able to secure an additional €40m for Tusla in Budget 2018. The use of this extra funding will include the recruitment of 300 additional staff.

I have been reassured to know that all urgent cases are dealt with immediately, and that Tusla ensures that the children in most need of a social work service receive one. The duty team social work system actively reviews the risk to these children, and new information informs the waiting time for allocation.

Tusla’s Child Protection Notification System holds the names of children deemed to be at current risk. All these cases have a dedicated social worker, a Child Protection Plan and regular multi-disciplinary Child Protection Case Conferences. If sufficient progress is not being made, a child may be received into care, on a voluntary basis or by applying to the courts for a care order. An Garda Síochána, out of hours GPs, Maternity Hospitals and Accident and Emergency Departments have 24-hour access to this list. This information helps them determine if a child that comes to their attention is already considered at risk.

I am most conscious of the need to enhance early intervention services and I glad to say that this budget has also provided for the establishment of an additional 11 Family Resource Centres..

  Question No. 42 answered orally.

Foster Care Provision

 43. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the steps she will take to address the shortage in foster carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43789/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone We need a regular supply of foster carers to provide a quality service for children. A small number of areas have problems in recruiting enough local foster carers. Other areas have good availability, but not all foster carers will have the skills needed for children with more complex needs.

Foster carers are acknowledged as the backbone of our child care services, looking after 92% of children in care. This compares with 74% in the UK. We have an extensive foster care service which provides care to a range of children, including children with emotional and behavioural issues and with disabilities. Foster care is also the placement of choice for older children and those in need of emergency placements, sibling groups and separated children seeking asylum.

Ensuring that we can recruit sufficient numbers of foster carers and the ethnic diversity needed to provide this variety of placements is challenging, but required for good matching between child and foster carer.

I please to say that I have secured an additional €40m for Tusla in the Budget for 2018, which will be used to target areas of identified need. Specific to the foster care service is the recruitment of social workers to recruit and support foster carers. Tusla are also receiving additional funding to establish a dedicated telephone service to provide out of hours social work support to foster carers for the first time.

International research tells us that the recruitment of foster carers requires a number of focussed strategies. Tusla employs a variety of methods in ongoing campaigns to attract potential foster carers. Examples include online and newspaper campaigns, information evenings and, most successfully, focussed local recruitment drives involving local foster carers.

The outcomes for children in foster care in Ireland are much praised by professional colleagues abroad, especially in terms of school completion, stability, family centred care and progress in third level education. I am proud of this record and I want this good work to continue. I appeal to anyone with an interest in fostering a child to visit the Tusla website for answers to a range of questions a potential carer might have, including how to apply to become a foster carer..

Homeless Persons Supports

 44. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the specific programmes her Department and Tusla have in place to assist parents and children in the emergency accommodation system while they await being housed in view of the increase in the number of children in emergency accommodation.  [43712/17]

 65. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the family supports available to homeless families in family hubs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43444/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 65 together.

  I am committed to helping children and families as part of a whole-of-Government response to the problem of homelessness. While statutory responsibility for the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities, and responsibility for the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding rests with the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government, my Department has undertaken a number of actions as part of Rebuilding Ireland: the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.

  These include the introduction of free childcare for the children of families experiencing homelessness. This has been done under the existing Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme, which provides a subvention of €160 per week for part-time childcare (three-and-a-half hours to five hours per day) over five days per week for all pre-school children aged 0 to 5 years inclusive. From 26 June last the scheme has been expanded to include a second option covering child care for a shorter period of two-and-a-quarter hours to three-and-a-half hours each day over five days per week. As part of the scheme a daily meal is provided for each child, the cost of which is included in the subvention rate. Currently 83 children have been approved for this scheme for 2017/2018 and a further 18 applications are awaiting decision. The scheme is also designed to help those transitioning from homelessness to permanent accommodation.

  It is very likely that other children in emergency accommodation are also registered under other strands of the child care programmes supported by my Department, though it is not possible to identify the exact number in each case.

  Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, works together with other statutory and voluntary agencies to provide services and supports to children, young people and families experiencing homelessness. Actions taken by Tusla include the provision of funding for child support workers and the appointment of a Homelessness Liaison Officer.

  Family Resource Centres, part funded by Tusla, are working with people who are experiencing homelessness and many have developed local responses to the needs of families in emergency accommodation. These include, by way of example, family fun days, homework support, after school programmes, play therapy and transport services.

  In recognition of the difficulties associated with homelessness and school attendance, Tusla's Educational Welfare Service offers a number of supports to children (and families) experiencing homelessness.

  Tusla’s joint protocol with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) covers child welfare and protection matters for children in emergency accommodation. It is fully operational in the DRHE areas and it is intended to replicate this protocol across the State. A Joint Working Protocol between Tusla and Galway City Council and their contracted services providers was co-signed by Tusla and the City Council in July. Galway County Council has agreed to meet with Tusla in the coming weeks to discuss a similar protocol.

  Finally, the DRHE is coordinating the development of a comprehensive National Quality Standards Framework for homeless services on behalf of all housing authorities. Consultation with service users and key stakeholders, including Tusla, has been undertaken and the draft standards have been piloted in selected services. These standards, including a child safety element which will provide homeless services with a framework for continuous quality improvement, will be implemented nationally.   

  Ultimately, my concern is that we minimise and then eliminate the problem of homelessness. In the meantime, I will continue to support measures to help those affected, to the greatest degree possible within my area of responsibility.

Family Support Services

 45. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to assist stay-at-home parents; and her views on whether they were not affected positively in the recent budget.  [43711/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am committed to the provision of childcare options for families that respect parental choice and reflect international evidence on how to attain the best outcomes for children.

  The Government has provided additional support for parents who choose to care for their children at home by increasing the Home Carer Tax Credit to €1,200 per year in Budget 2018. Previous provisions for maternity benefit, parental leave and the recently introduced paternity leave also demonstrate the Government's commitment to support parents. It should be noted that the Programme for Government commits to extending paid leave for parents in the first year of a child's life, which will be a key financial support enabling parents to care for their children at home in the critical first year. I will be happy to support my Government colleagues in progressing these as funding allows.

  My Department provides a number of childcare schemes which are available to all families, both working parents and those who choose to stay at home to care for their children. From September 2018, the ECCE scheme will be available to all children over the age of two years and eight months for two full programme years. 114,000 children are expected to participate in ECCE from September 2018 and many of these will be children of stay at home parents.

  Other initiatives will also help. The additional affordability measures, which are now being rolled out across the country, are an important first step in making childcare more accessible for parents who choose to return to training or employment. However, it is important to recognise that these measures, and those that will commence once the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) is introduced, are only one element of a broader set of commitments and supports aimed at parents and children. The provision of improved services for centre-based care is very important, but I will not lose sight of the needs of children who do not attend them. In this regard, Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People contains a commitment to produce Ireland’s first-ever National Early Years Strategy. The intention is to deliver a cross-cutting strategy which will take a joined-up, whole of Government approach to the issue of supporting children and their families during the early years (0-6 years). The drafting of the National Early Years Strategy is being advanced. An Open Policy Debate was held with key stakeholders last December and this has informed the strategy development greatly. Bilateral meetings with key government departments have taken place. Development of the Strategy remains a priority for me and for my Department, and I will move to publish the Strategy as soon as possible after it is completed.

Adoption Records Provision

 46. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to protect descendants of illegally adopted persons who remain unaware of their adoption status; and if she plans to widen the search for illegal adoptees to inform them that their medical records may be inaccurate.  [43744/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The term ‘illegal adoption' is used to cover a wide range of situations and actions including the incorrect registration of a birth. Such persons can currently seek information and assistance from the Adoption Authority of Ireland, Tusla and a number of accredited bodies. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 will, for the first time, provide a statutory basis for the provision of information related to both past and future adoptions. It provides for structured and regulated access to information and tracing services. Persons whose births have been incorrectly registered and their birth parents, will be entitled to an information and tracing service in the same manner as an adopted person or a birth parent of an adopted person.

In 2010 the Adoption Authority of Ireland undertook a review of information regarding alleged incorrect birth registrations held by the former Adoption Board. There were approximately 100 National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) applications which appeared to be related to incorrect birth registrations. The 100 applications were roughly 50:50 pre and post 1953 (adoption legislation was introduced in to Ireland in 1952). In 2013 staff from the Authority visited the General Register Office Research Room to confirm that there were in fact entries in the Register of Births that corresponded to the details given on approximately 120 (the original 100 + 20 received since 2010) of these NACPR applications. The outcome of that was:

- 75 cases of people whose births were registered in the name of their "adopted" parents though no adoption took place; and

- 40 cases where persons assumed the identity of their "adopted" parents but there is no record of an adoption or birth registration.

Other than this limited information, any attempts to quantify the numbers of incorrect birth registrations can never be any more than highly speculative given that it is impossible to quantify how many people are currently unaware that they are in fact “incorrectly registered”. Searching for these people would be very difficult if not impossible. Incorrect birth registrations operated in conditions of great secrecy and there were rarely any contemporary written records of these events. The few such records that do still exist are generally papers of a personal nature and are extremely difficult to locate..

Youth Services Provision

 47. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the closure of a centre (details supplied); her views on whether the closure of such a facility would impact on the programme for Government commitment to tackle child poverty by increasing community-based early intervention programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43752/17]

 72. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will intervene into the closure of a centre (details supplied) in view of the centre's role in providing essential services to children and young persons in the community; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43753/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 72 together.

  I was advised two weeks ago that a decision had been taken by the board of the management company operating Brookfield Youth and Community Centre to cease operations with immediate effect. I was not provided with advance notice of the closure but I believe that the Centre’s closure was not as a result of funding issues.

  I am anxious to ensure that the services being operated at Brookfield Youth and Community Centre, particularly those being delivered to at-risk young people, are recommenced at the earliest possible juncture. The funding for these services remains available and above all I want to see this funding being spent on these young people who had been attending at Brookfield Youth and community Centre. In this regard, I have asked Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board to work closely with South Dublin County Council to ensure that this important facility is up and running as soon as possible.

  Brookfield Youth and Community Centre is funded under my Department’s Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund. This fund was established by the Government to assist in the development of preventative strategies in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, including sports and recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop.

  The centre hosts a number of vital services, including youth services, which are funded by my Department. The youth services have been provided by both Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB and by Foróige staff from these premises. The youth workers who deliver these services were not employees of the centre and both the Education and Training Board and Foróige are looking to use alternative premises while the centre is closed.

  Question No. 48 answered orally.

Child and Family Agency Services

 49. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she is satisfied with the overall performance of Tusla; her plans to conduct a review into the operations of Tusla with regard to its child protection policy, in view of the report by the UN Special Rapporteur (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43742/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I can inform the Deputy that I am satisfied with the overall performance of Tusla. I have no current plan to conduct a review into the operations of Tusla with regard to its child protection policy.

  I recently announced that all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015 will be commenced on 11 December 2017. These include the provisions in relation to mandatory reporting of child abuse and in relation to placing a legal obligation on organisations providing services to children to prepare and publish a Child Safeguarding Statement. Tusla is central to the implementation of these important measures.

  I recently launched the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children [2017]. At the same launch, Tusla published an accompanying suite of Children First resource documents for those individuals and organisations who will acquire legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015. Tusla also launched a comprehensive 90 minute basic Children First training programme, to be universally available on line, free of charge.

  In relation to the report published in May 2017 by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection dealing with children under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991, Tusla is working closely with An Garda Síochána to ensure close and effective working relationships between the two agencies.

  In Budget 2018, Tusla receives a 5.7% increase of €40.6m for 2018, higher than the €37m increase provided in 2017. The extra funding will be used to progress a number of key priorities including the introduction of mandatory reporting under Children First, addressing gaps in out-of-hours services and further investing in Family Resource Centres. It will allow Tusla to recruit over 300 staff to respond to areas of identified risk and to meet increased demand for services. This includes resources for responding to expected increases in referrals following the introduction of mandatory reporting and management of unallocated cases. It will also allow for improvements in Tusla’s ICT systems and overall organisational structures, including governance.

  We must continually do our utmost to protect children and young people from harm and assist them in achieving their full potential and I want to encourage and support people who work with children to continue to do so.

Affordable Childcare Scheme Data

 50. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will report on the affordable child care scheme; the current and projected funding; the take-up across the country; the level of subsidies being given; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43792/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am committed to ensuring that childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality. I continue to work with my officials to deliver the new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS). Strong progress is being made in this regard with all the elements of the scheme, including the IT system and an ACS Bill.

  The increase in supports I have provided for the 2017/2018 programme year represents a major step towards accessible, affordable, quality childcare after decades of under-investment. Two supports were introduced last month. The first was a universal (non-means tested) support of up to €1,040 per year for children under 3. The second was an enhanced support of up to €7,500 per year targeted to assist low income families to return to work and training.

  So far in 2017/2018 the number of registrations for these new measures is as follows:

  - Targeted schemes (CCS, CCSP and TEC): 25,775 children and

  - The universal scheme: 25,339 children

  It should be noted that for most of the programmes, providers can continue to register children throughout the year and children may enter the programmes at different times. Therefore, I expect to see the number of registrations increase further over the coming weeks and months.

  86% of service providers have signed up to deliver these measures.

  As the expanded schemes only commenced in their current form from Sept 2017, I am providing the estimated cost for September to December 2017 and also for the full fiscal year 2018. These are:

  - €32.9m for the targeted childcare schemes in 2017 and €75.2m in 2018; and

  - €7.4m for the universal scheme in 2017 and €16.8 in 2018.

  This represents an investment of €40.3m from September to December 2017 and €92m for the full year 2018.

  I would also note that 86,711 children have signed up so far to ECCE for this programme year. There are three cumulative registration cycles for ECCE and this intake is only the first cycle. In 2016/2017 over 120,000 children registered for ECCE.

  Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 40.

Departmental Programmes

 52. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for the ABC programme in 2019; the date by which she anticipates publishing the review of the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43770/17]

 510. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for the ABC programme in 2019; the date by which she anticipates publishing the review of the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43781/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The ABC Programme is a joint prevention and early intervention initiative, led by the Department for Children and Youth Affairs. The Programme commenced in 2013 and was designed as a time-bound co-funding agreement with The Atlantic Philanthropies, in the amount of €29.7 million for the period 2013 to 2016. In late 2016, my Department secured additional funding to ensure that all 13 existing ABC sites could remain in contract until the end of December 2017. This brings the total funding allocated to the ABC Programme by the end of 2017 to €31.2m.

  I am very pleased to announce that in this year’s budget, I have secured an additional €2.7m in funding for the ABC Programme in 2018. The extension of the programme into 2018 will align the programme with the expected timeline for delivery of the national evaluation report which is expected in April 2018.It is expected that the report will be published shortly afterwards.

  A key purpose of the ABC Programme is to identify the learning in and across the ABC sites and to transfer this learning into existing and established services, in order that we can ensure a greater reach and sustained impact in services across the country. The extension into 2018 will allow for consideration of the findings from the evaluation to inform plans for the design of future community based prevention and early intervention initiatives that comprehend the Programme for Government commitments in this area.

Mental Health Services Provision

 53. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her Department has established a working group involving the HSE, the Department of Health and Tusla to co-ordinate a focus for the State's provision of mental health services for young persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43657/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am happy to inform the Deputy that my Department is at present advancing this matter. I and my officials have met with Minister Daly and we are both agreed to review the co-ordination and provision of psychological supports between TUSLA and the HSE, including specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provided by the HSE.

  The work of this group will focus on identifying a clearer continuum of provision for such services, strengthening alignment and identifying gaps and areas for development. This work will, of course, be centred on the needs of children and young people.

  It is critical that this group builds upon recent developments in this area, including, for example, the work of the Youth Mental Health Task Force and the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project led by the Department of Health.

  It is also of the utmost importance that the insight and expertise which exists in the field of youth mental health, actively informs the process.

  My officials, in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Health, are currently identifying a date for the inaugural meeting of this group.

  It is envisaged that this group will comprise the following:

- Representative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs;

- Representative of the Department of Health;

- Representative of Health Service Executive; and

- Representative of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

  Additional input to the work of the group will be considered where appropriate. A draft Terms of Reference for the group has been shared with the key constituents and this will frame and direct the truly important work of this group.

  I will be taking a direct and ongoing interest in the development - but more importantly the outputs and outcomes from this group – so as to ensure that we can further strengthen the coordination and alignment of mental health and related psycho-social supports for our young people.

Youth Work Projects Funding

 54. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to increase the funding for youth work projects in County Laois. [43656/17]

 59. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the reason funding for Youth Work Ireland in County Laois is lower than the national average. [43655/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 59 together.

In 2017, €57.4 m was allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services, an increase of €5.5m on 2016. I have enhanced this by a further €1.5m in 2018. Laois Youth Services received €86,803 funding in 2017 under the Special Projects for Youth scheme.

Earlier this year, I approved funding of €800,000 for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new challenges arising from population increases. This additional investment is being provided in regions of the country where there is a pressing need for services to meet the needs of young people.

Each of the sixteen Education and Training Boards, including Laois and Offaly ETB, was invited to nominate locations within their catchment areas for the establishment of new services and to nominate a project or service to be considered for augmentation. In total twenty-eight applications for new services were received, including an application for a new service for Laois.

Based on the recommendations of a specially convened appraisal committee, and given the very limited resources available for the scheme, I approved the establishment of nine new targeted youth services and the expansion of a further seven to respond to new demand. The application in respect of Laois was, unfortunately, not successful on this occasion.

The Department has worked with Pobal and each Education and Training Board (ETB) Youth Officer, to map youth service provision across the State. This mapping exercise will assist the Department and the relevant ETB in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels. This exercise is due to be published soon and will inform future development and investment in youth services. My Department is committed to working with Laois and Offaly ETB to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

Deputies will be aware that my Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country..


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