Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 55 - 75
 Header Item Children and Young People’s Policy Framework
 Header Item Youth Services Provision
 Header Item Foster Care Provision
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Child Care Services Provision
 Header Item Oideachas Gaeltachta
 Header Item Homelessness Strategy
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Child Care Services Staff
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Youth Strategy

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. 55 - 75

Children and Young People’s Policy Framework

 55. 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 her Department continues to improve the quality and availability of services for children and young persons, with the objective of ensuring that a particular emphasis is placed on providing adequate support for families at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43736/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy is aware of my wish to improve the quality and availability of services for children and young persons, with the objective of ensuring that a particular emphasis is placed on providing adequate support for families at risk. I am very pleased that the €73m package announced in Budget 2018 enables us to continue investing in our children and young people and secures much- needed additional resources for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and provides a full second year of the ECCE free pre-school scheme, with a heavy emphasis on quality.

  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 that deliver services to families in disadvantaged areas across the country. The additional investment 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; management of unallocated cases and developing aftercare services. It will also allow for improvements in Tusla’s ICT systems and overall organisational structures, including governance.

  Budget 2018 represents another significant step in ensuring access to high quality, affordable early years care and education. From September 2018 all children will be entitled to a full two years of the ECCE scheme or free preschool, as it has become known. This further enhancement delivers fully on a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that is good for children, families and Early Years providers. I also announced investment to continue the childcare affordability measures introduced last month that are already benefitting 45,000 children, with 24,000 of these registered so far for the universal under-3 scheme, and 21,000 registered for the targeted schemes. The additional funding will ensure that the door remains open for further children and families to register and benefit from these subsidies throughout 2018.

Youth Services Provision

 56. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on the impact a club (details supplied) has had on local young persons interested in animal and equine care; if she will work with her colleagues in other Departments to introduce similar programmes in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43528/17]

 64. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will visit a club (details supplied) to examine the positive results of young persons coming together to identify their own areas of interest with community development workers; her plans to use this model in working with young persons interested in animal and equine care in other disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43529/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 64 together.

The Clondalkin/Ballyowen Equine facility is an initiative which was financed by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with South Dublin County Council. The facility provides a base for young people from the area who can’t afford a private stable to care for their animals. It also provides an opportunity for young people to develop good animal welfare practice and equine education. Any further development of this initiative would be a matter for the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the relevant local authority. As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I greatly value such initiatives.

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.

In 2017, €57.4 m has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services. Budget 2017 and 2018 provided a total of €7m extra funding for youth services. Additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services. Youth Officers are employed by the Education and Training Boards around the country to administer and co-ordinate youth services at a local level through engagement with the local services..

Foster Care Provision

 57. 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 if she will allocate increased funding to foster care services in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43773/17]

 513. 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 if she will allocate increased funding to foster care services in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43784/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 513 together.

  Additional resources of €40.6m is being made available to Tusla as a result of Budget 2018 decisions by this Government. This will bring Tusla's financial allocation to just over €753m in 2018. This level of funding will allow Tusla to recruit additional staffing and respond to areas of identified risk and meet increased demand for services. In particular, the financial allocation will allow Tusla to meet a number of key priorities including:

- Responding to the introduction of mandatory reporting under Children First from 11 December of this year;

- Addressing gaps in Out of Hours services, including the introduction of an Out of Hours for foster parents; and

- Investing in Family Resource Centres in local communities that deliver services to families, especially in disadvantaged areas across the country.

  I will shortly be issuing Tusla with its 2018 Performance Statement in line with the provisions of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013. Tusla will, in response to the Performance Statement, prepare a Business Plan for 2018 which will be submitted to me for consideration.

  The precise level of funding to be allocated to foster care services will be considered by Tusla, in preparing its Business Plan, having regard to the overall level of funding available in 2018.

  Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 48.

  Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 54.

Family Resource Centres

 60. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the way in which the increased funding to Tusla for existing and new family resource centres will be allocated; if she will review the facilities of the two existing family resource centres in County Kildare for further investment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43790/17]

 73. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if County Kildare will be considered as a location for new family resource centres in view of the low number in the county compared to the county's growing population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43791/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 73 together.

  I am pleased to inform the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will receive an additional €40.6 million in funding next year. This will bring Tusla’s allocation to over €753 million in 2018.

  The extra funding will support Tusla in delivering an ambitious and necessary programme of reform of services.

  I am placing a strong emphasis on the development of family support services next year. This includes the provision of additional funding to Tusla to expand the existing Family Resource Centre Programme, with 11 new centres to be included in the Programme. I am also providing Tusla with increased funding to support the existing Family Resource Centres across the country.

  I am doing this in recognition of the importance of early intervention and prevention in assisting vulnerable children and families in our local communities.

  I recognise that County Kildare has experienced a significant increase in its population base, and that there is a strong demand for services in the area. There are currently two Family Resource Centres in County Kildare that receive funding from Tusla. They are based in Newbridge and the Curragh. The needs of County Kildare will be considered as decisions are made with regard to allocation of the additional resources provided.

  Following on from Budget 2018, Tusla will shortly finalise details relating to the process for admission of additional centres to the Family Resource Centre Programme.

  I will also shortly be issuing Tusla with its 2018 Performance Statement in line with the provisions of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013. Tusla will, in response to the Performance Statement, prepare a Business Plan for 2018, having regard to the overall level of funding available in 2018.

  Tusla's Business Plan for 2018 will set out details of the additional funding to be provided to existing Family Resource Centres next year, and this will be submitted for my consideration.

  In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the valuable work of Family Resource Centres. I am pleased that I have secured additional resources to support them in their work with vulnerable children and families in our local communities.

Children in Care

 61. 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 additional resources her Department has provided to support aftercare plans for children leaving State care at 18 years of age from 1 September 2017; her plans to enhance this provision in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43423/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy will be aware that from 1 September 2017, children leaving state care upon reaching the age of 18 have a statutory right to an aftercare plan to identify any future supports they may require.

The transition to independent adulthood can be particularly challenging for children and young people in care. Tusla had advocated for this important change to assist young people in making the transition from a young person in care to adult life, and to ensure consistency of support to these young people/ young adults in aftercare from 18 years and up to 21 years of age. This may be extended to 23 if a young adult is in full time education or accredited training.

Planning a young person’s new independent living needs to begin years prior to leaving care and continue as part of the care planning process. This preparatory work is facilitated by a social worker in Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and is based on collaboration with the young person, their carers and partner agencies. Resources, including aftercare workers, have been put in place to ensure this happens before a child leaves care.

Arising from Budget 2018, Tusla will receive an additional €40.6 million euro in funding that will bring its allocation to over €753 million euro in 2018.

I will shortly be issuing Tusla with its 2018 Performance Statement in line with the provisions of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013. Tusla will, in response to the Performance Statement, prepare a Business Plan for 2018 which will be submitted to me for consideration. The precise level of funding to be allocated to support aftercare plans will be considered by Tusla, in preparing its Business Plan, having regard to the overall level of funding available in 2018, which will exceed €753 million euro.

It is not my intention to prescribe the overall level of funding to be allocated by Tusla to support aftercare plans. It is more appropriate, in my view, that Tusla first sets out its proposals for this important service area, having regard to its statutory remit and taking account of the totality of funding available next year..

Child Poverty

 62. 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 the steps she will take to eliminate child poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43754/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The reduction of children's poverty is a key political priority for the Government. The Taoiseach has described tackling child poverty as a moral imperative, and this is an issue that we must address robustly.

  In recognition of the higher risks and life-long consequences of child poverty, the Government set a child-specific poverty target in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020 to reduce consistent child poverty by at least two-thirds by 2020.

  The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has the lead role in coordinating government strategies on child poverty. It also has lead responsibility for the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion and has identified child poverty as a key cross-sectoral priority to be addressed. My Department is working closely with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in informing the development of this cross-sectoral priority.

  The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has co-convened a subgroup with members of the Advisory Council for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures to progress solutions to child poverty. The Advisory Council is continuing its work in relation to child poverty and this will extend into 2018 and beyond. Led by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, this subgroup has developed a paper which outlines a whole of government approach to tackling child poverty. Key priorities arising from this include providing universal access to GP care for under 18s, reducing the cost of education, housing, affordable childcare, labour activation and provision of in-work benefits.

  Budget 2018 represents another significant step in ensuring access to high quality, affordable early years care and education with an extra €20 million being provided to support a range of childcare measures. These measures are aimed at those on low incomes, helping families to overcome disadvantage and to help contribute to a reduction in child poverty.

  I and my colleagues in Cabinet are committed to advancing efforts and actions in our collective response to this important issue.

Child Care Costs

 63. 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 if her attention has been drawn to the ongoing difficulties in regard to affordability and sustainability in the non-ECCE early years sector; and the reason her Department has not increased the amount of subsidies payable to parents under the single affordable child care scheme in view of these issues. [43769/17]

 509. 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 if her attention has been drawn to the ongoing difficulties in regard to affordability and sustainability in the non-ECCE early years sector; and the reason her Department has not increased the amount of subsidies payable to parents under the single affordable child care scheme in view of these issues. [43780/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 509 together.

In recent years, I have secured significant additional investment in the early years sector, focussing investment at each stage on critical elements of early years care and education. The new measures announced in Budget 2018 form part of a trend of continued growth and investment. In Budget 2017 I secured a 35% increase in childcare funding, which followed from a similar 35% increase in Budget 2016. Cumulatively the last three budgets have seen an increase of 87% in investment after decades of under-investment. However, I have said on many occasions that we will need significant investment in every budget for many years to catch up with our OECD counterparts.

The increase in supports now being implemented for the 2017/18 programme year represents a major step towards accessible affordable quality childcare. These increases reflect my ambition to support the provision of quality childcare services with appropriately supported and qualified staff.

These increases are considerable, up to 50% in the targeted subsidies, which significantly decreases the amount of co-payment required of low income families or parents in education or training. Parents can benefit by as much as €7,500 per child per year under the new measures. I also introduced a universal subsidy worth up to €1,040 per year; this subsidy is aimed at children not yet in the free pre-school scheme.

These changes are way-points towards our goal to deliver genuine affordable, accessible, quality childcare. My Department is also progressing the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme which will ultimately replace all existing targeted schemes. This requires robust IT systems and an appropriate legislative grounding. We must ensure that the new system is absolutely fit for purpose as it will be with us for many years.

Notwithstanding the above, I recognise the pressures on childcare providers. Before the end of this year, I will be providing a further amount of €3.5m towards “programme support payments” for all childcare providers who register for the scheme mentioned above. This amount is in addition to the €14.5m that has been already paid to childcare services so far in 2017.

The increase of 7% in ECCE capitation I just announced should be of significance to all providers as ECCE has become a corner-stone of most childcare services.

Further, my Department has also provided capital investment of over €12m in 2017 with dedicated schemes for both Early Years and School Age Childcare. Investment will continue in 2018 with the detailed specifications currently being finalised by my officials.

In relation to the specific issue raised around sustainability, officials from Pobal and my Department identify and work with providers with serious concerns around their viability. €1m was provided in Budget 2017 for Sustainability efforts and my Department is currently engaging with those providers to ensure that these vital services are provided with the necessary financial assistance. An additional €700,000 has been secured in 2018, for the purpose of assisting services enduring sustainability issues. This increased funding will allow my Department to increase the scope of the current sustainability assessment model so that any service undergoing issues affecting their sustainability will have the ability to apply for additional funding under this stream..

  Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 56.

  Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 44.

Child Care Services Provision

 66. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the policy of her Department regarding the development of crèches and preschools in the Gaeltacht that operate through the medium of the Irish language; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43467/17]

 67. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the policy of her Department regarding the development of crèches and preschools inside and outside the Gaeltacht that operate through the medium of the Irish language; the discussions she has had on this matter with the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43466/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

My Department recognises that there is a need to provide supports in the Gaeltacht, and throughout the country, in relation to Irish language needs in the early years sector. This will include appropriate education and training materials and resources for practitioners and services.

I established a subgroup of the Early Years Forum, which includes members from Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta (CNNG), Gaeloideachas, Foras na Gaeilge, na Naonraí Gaelacha, the Department of Education and Skills (DES), the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG), Udarás na Gaeltachta and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA). This group has considered issues relating to Irish language issues generally and has fed the outcomes into the wider Early Years Forum. Consideration is now being given to the subgroup's recommendations within the context of the wider Early Years system.

In addition, officials from my Department are inputting to the preparation of the '5 Year Implementation Plan 2017-2022' under the '20 year strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030' in conjunction with colleagues from the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills.

Oideachas Gaeltachta

 68. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le tacaíocht a chur ar fáil do na Naíonraí le cigireacht trí mheán na Gaeilge, de réir mar atá luaite sa Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta, 2017-2022. [43765/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Rinne comhghleacaí de mo chuid, an tAire Oideachais agus Scileanna, an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta a fhoilsiú i 2016. Baineann mo fhreagra leis na Cigireachtaí Atá Dírithe ar An Oideachas sna Luathbhlianta den Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna agus leis na Cigireachtaí Luathbhlianta déanta ag Tusla.

Cuireadh tús le múnla nua de Chigireacht Atá Dírithe ar Oideachas sna Luathbhlianta (EYEI) ar bhonn píolótach i 2015 i suímh luathbhlianta. Tar éis na trialach seo, tugadh faoi próiseas comhairliúcháin náisiúnta dírithe ar an gcreat meastóireachta agus ar próisis na cigireachta. I mí Aibreáin 2016, d’fhoilsigh an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna an creat agus na próisis cigireachta mar an múnla EYEI, agus thug an tAire Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige agus an tAire Oideachais agus Scileanna faomhadh chun iad a chur i bhfeidhm.

Cuireadh tús le clár iomlán EYEI ar 14 Aibreán 2016. Faoi dheireadh mhí an Mheithimh 2017, tá cigireacht déanta ar 20% (867) de na seirbhísí Luathbhlianta atá ag cur an chláir um Chúram agus Oideachas Luath-Óige (ECCE) ar fáil agus d’fhoilsigh breis agus 500 tuarascáil EYEI ar shuíomh gréasáin na Roinne Oideachais agus Scileanna. Rinneadh cigireacht trí mheán na Gaeilge ar 21 seirbhís den iomlán a rinneadh cigireacht orthu go dtí seo, sa Ghaeltacht den chuid is mó. I mí na Bealtaine 2017, cuireadh tús le hathbhreithniú foirmiúil den mhúnla EYEI agus d’eagraíodh seimineár poiblí chun na céad torthaí agus taithí an EYEI a roinnt le heagraíochtaí na bpáirtithe leasmhara. Sheol suirbhé comhairliúcháin chun deise a chur ar fáil do na seirbhísí luathbhlianta a rinneadh cigireacht orthu, agus do pháirtithe leasmhara níos leithne, aiseolas a thabhairt ar an múnla EYEI. Críochnóidh an próiseas comhairliúcháin ag deireadh mhí Mheán Fómhair 2017 agus ullmhóidh cigireacht na Roinne Oideachais agus Scileanna tuarascáil chun bonn eolais a chur faoin athbhreithniú agus faoin bhforbairt den chigireacht atá dírithe ar an oideachas i seirbhísí luathbhlianta a bhfuil an clár ECCE á cur ar fáil acu.

Spreagann Cigireacht na Luathbhlianta i Tusla a cuid cigirí le bheith ag plé leis na Naíonraí trí mheán na Gaeilge go dtí leibhéal cumais an chigire, agus aithníonn Tusla go n-athraíonn an cumas seo. Tá cigire luathbhlianta a bhfuil Gaeilge líofa aige/aici á earcú go sonrach ag Tusla, le bheith ag plé go speisialta leis na Naíonraí agus chun lánchumarsáid trí Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil, comhfhreagras scríofa san áireamh. Lonnófar an chéad phost i nGaillimh.

Faoi láthair, aistríonn Tusla tuairiscí cigireachta nuair a iarrtar iad, agus tá Tusla tar éis réimse leathain de cháipéisí a aistriú don Chigireacht agus do na soláthraithe cláraithe, atá ar fáil ar an suíomh gréasáin. Más féidir go mbeadh tionchar ag cáipéis shuntasach ar na soláthraithe cláraithe, tá leagan Ghaeilge di ar fáil. I 2016 thug Tusla faoi shuirbhé leathan faoi thuairimí na soláthraithe cláraithe mar gheall ar an taithí atá acu leis an gCigireacht, agus cuireadh sin ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge.

Pléann Tusla le grúpaí de na páirtithe leasmhara luathbhlianta agus tá ionadaí ag na Gaelscoileanna ar ghrúpa Chomhairleach na Cigireachta a chinntíonn go bhfuil béim curtha go leanúnach ar thacaíochtaí don Ghaeilge agus go bpléitear leo. Tá an Chigireacht tiomanta chun tacaíochta a thabhairt don Ghaeilge san obair agus leanfaidh an Chigireacht chun feabhais a dhéanamh..

Homelessness Strategy

 69. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the analysis undertaken or being undertaken by her Department on the short and long-term effects of homelessness on children and their development; the way this analysis guides her Department's policy on the protection of children; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43788/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am committed to helping children and families as part of a whole-of-Government response to the problem of homelessness. This Government recognises that homelessness is an extremely distressing situation for any family, and living in emergency accommodation is not conducive to normal family life. While my Department has no role in providing housing for families, we are working closely with Tusla to provide supports for families in emergency accommodation in order to mitigate the challenges faced by parents and children in this situation.

  My Department has undertaken a number of actions as part of Rebuilding Ireland: the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. These include co-funding a study on food access and nutritional health among families residing in hotel accommodation in the Dublin Region. Free childcare has been introduced for the children of families experiencing homelessness. As part of this scheme a daily meal is provided for each child, the cost of which is included in the subvention rate.

  Family Resource Centres, part funded by Tusla, are working with people who are experiencing homelessness. Many have developed local responses based on their own analysis of the needs of families in emergency accommodation. Actions taken by Tusla include the provision of funding for child support workers and the appointment of a Homelessness Liaison Officer. 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 works together with other statutory and voluntary agencies to provide services and supports to children, young people 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.

  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.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 70. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the position regarding the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43787/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In March 2017 the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes released a statement confirming that human remains had been found on the site of the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co. Galway. In early June I appointed a multi disciplinary team of experts headed by Forensic Archaeologist Niamh Mc Cullagh to provide technical advices to Government in this highly specialised area.

  This was done to ensure that the approach adopted is informed by technical input that accords with international best practice in this specialised area. The Terms of Reference of the Expert Group's work are available on my Department's website at www.dcya.gov.ie. On 7 July 2017 the Expert Team submitted a preliminary first stage document which outlines the potential range of options which could be considered as next steps on this site. Again, this report was published on my Department’s website at www.dcya.gov.ie.

  In July the Expert Team conducted an extensive non-invasive geophysical survey on site at Tuam. This consisted of data collection through a variety of non-invasive techniques, over the course of 5 days. Department officials are currently liaising with the Expert Team, who are due to submit their final report shortly. I have asked the expert team to provide its technical advice in easy to understand language, so that we can all appreciate the options for the site and what each option would entail. This information will help us have a much better-informed consultation on the future of the site. Once I have received the report a course of action can then be agreed upon to build towards a consensus on the next steps to be taken.

Child Care Services Staff

 71. 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 if she will meet the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding community child care services that, due to its difficulties in recruiting staff through community employment, have to cut services in areas of great need.  [43708/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I meet my Cabinet colleagues regularly to discuss childcare related issues, and advocate the needs and interests of the sector in accordance with my role as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I would, therefore, be glad to discuss the issues you have identified with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, should this prove to be necessary.

In relation to the staff recruitment difficulties you have specified, the majority of community childcare services are operating successfully and have been able to manage issues that they face within existing structures. Notwithstanding this, it is recognised that a small number of services have faced financial challenges due to the requirement to replace unpaid CE Workers with staff qualified to the standard specified within the 2016 Regulations. €1m in funding has therefore been made available to services that identify themselves as being impacted in this way. To date, my Department has authorised the transfer of €0.52m across 60 applicant services from this stream of funding. Furthermore, an additional €0.7m has been allocated to this stream of funding for the coming year.

My Department, and the 30 City and County Childcare Committees across the country, are available to work intensively with any service experiencing difficulties.

Deputies may also be interested to note that centres who register for the enhanced childcare measures introduced last month will gain access to the Programme Support Payment (formerly Non-Contact Time payment). This programme will aid community child care services with the administrative demands placed on them. A total of €18m has been made available in 2017 and has been secured again for 2018 and onwards.

Community services are also expected to benefit from the 'September more affordable childcare measures' given the increase in subsidies paid to parents, in some instances by as much as 50%..

  Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 47.

  Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 60.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 74. Deputy Denise Mitchell Information on Denise Mitchell Zoom on Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the process of engagement initiated as part of the Government's response to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.  [43693/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Following the publication of the Commission of Investigation's Second Interim Report in April of this year, I announced my intention to consult with former residents on what supports and services they felt may be of genuine and practical value to them now in the area of health and well-being. I appointed an experienced facilitator with an international reputation to assist in the design and running of these consultations and in early June I issued public invitations to former residents and their supporters seeking expressions of interest in participating in the facilitated process.

The first session was held at the Westin Hotel, Dublin on the 30th of June 2017. Over 100 people from around the country, the UK and the USA participated in the event reflecting the high level of interest in engaging with this process. Following on from the event a Facilitators Report was drafted and shared with attendees for their observations. A second session was held at the Silver Springs Hotel in Cork City on the 6th of October 2017 to ensure that more people had an opportunity to have their say on issues of concern to them. This second event mirrored the first and again a Facilitators Report will be circulated to attendees.

I attended both events and had an opportunity to meet many of the participants and acknowledge the generosity and courage of all participants in contributing to the dialogue. When completed, the Facilitators Reports produced from both events will inform my proposals to Government so that appropriate supports can be put in place as quickly as possible.

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Youth Strategy

 75. Deputy Denise Mitchell Information on Denise Mitchell Zoom on Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the progress of the LGBTI+ youth strategy; and when she expects to report to Dáil Éireann on the strategy. [43692/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Programme for Government (2016) gives a commitment to develop a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Youth Strategy.

  I established an Oversight Committee with an Independent Chair, Ms Una Mullally, to oversee the development of the Strategy on 19 December 2016. The group includes cross-sectoral representation from relevant organisations, bodies and Government Departments/Agencies. A Youth Advisory Group also supports the development of the Strategy and has representatives on the Oversight Committee.

  Consultations have taken place on a very wide scale, particularly with young people. To date, approximately 4,000 young people have participated in the consultation process either online or through attendance at the events which my Department has hosted across the country. A stakeholder consultation event was held in Farmleigh House on 28 June 2017 at which almost 100 organisations were represented. In addition an open call for submissions was launched in early September and closed on 27 September 2017.

  Five sub-groups have been established this month and they are currently working to identify strategic priorities and actions. The sub-groups will report back to the Oversight Committee on the results of their work by the end of November 2017.

  A report of the consultation process with young people and details on their views has been prepared and is in the final stages of drafting with a view to publication in December. The Youth Advisory Group for the Strategy will work on a youth version of the report.

  My officials will undertake bilateral consultations with Departments in early 2018 to discuss the actions identified and approved by the Oversight Committee. I anticipate publication of the final Strategy in Spring 2018.

  This is a key commitment for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in the Programme for Government and also makes a contribution towards the Government’s broader commitment to continue to strive for full inclusion of LGBTI+ people in Ireland.

  Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 - 2020 and The National Youth Strategy 2015 - 2020 is providing the framework within which the Strategy is being framed with a focus on ensuring measures are in place to enable young people identifying as LGBTI+ to achieve their full potential.


Last Updated: 19/02/2020 09:12:09 First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page