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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1077-1101
 Header Item Public Service Obligation Data
 Header Item Public Service Obligation Data
 Header Item Public Service Vehicles
 Header Item Parking Charges
 Header Item Parking Charges
 Header Item National Car Test
 Header Item Domestic Violence Services Funding
 Header Item School Discipline
 Header Item Sexual Offences Data
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Domestic Violence Incidence
 Header Item Suicide Prevention
 Header Item Sexual Offences Data
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Investigations
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Expenditure
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Expenditure
 Header Item Rape Crisis Network Funding
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Departmental Websites
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Data

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 961 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 119 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1077-1101

Public Service Obligation Data

 1077. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the percentage of the increase in the PSO for budget 2018 which will go towards tendered contracts, such as bus services (details supplied); and the percentage towards CIÉ run services. [47033/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As the Deputy is aware in Budget 2018, I secured an 8% increase in the overall Exchequer funding available for PSO services throughout the country. This means that in 2018 over €285 million will be allocated via the National Transport Authority (NTA) to support the continued delivery of these socially necessary but financially unviable services that have grown in recent years.

  As is normal, the precise allocations to the companies will be decided by the NTA in exercise of its statutory mandate and in accordance with the various contract arrangements that it has in place with PSO service providers.  I have therefore referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Public Service Obligation Data

 1078. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the PSO funding for rural link services in each of the years 2008 to 2016 and to date in 2017. [47034/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross My Department provides Current funding for the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) to the National Transport Authority (NTA) which has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including, since 2012, management of the RTP.

  In July of this year the NTA published the current figures in respect of the RTP for the years 2007 to 2016 in its Statistical Bulletin no 2/17 "Bus and Rail statistics for Ireland - State Funded Services", page 23. For the assistance of the Deputy I have copied these amounts from that publication.

Year RTP grant (€ millions)
2007 €8.98
2008 €9.80
2009 €10.97
2010 €11.00
2011 €10.62
2012 €9.77
2013 €9.63
2014 €10.10*
2015 €10.70*
2016 €11.86


  * Additional funds included in the above figures were made available to  to Rural Transport in 2014 and 2015

  The allocation for RTP funding for 2017 is €13.75 million.

  In Budget 2018 I secured an additional €500,000 in current funding for the RTP next year. This builds on the increased funding in the last 2 years, which enabled the improvement of existing services and development of new routes.

Public Service Vehicles

 1079. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the number of new small public service vehicle licences provided in each of the years 2008 to 2016 and to date in 2017 for the Dublin region; and the number for each year.  [47035/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including the licensing of vehicles within this sector, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

  I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Parking Charges

 1080. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the estimated difference between average annual steady-state cost of national roads, regional and local roads, heavy rail, Luas and buses with regard to the integration initiative as estimated in a report (details supplied) and actual expenditure outlay by general Government and his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2017. [47036/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross In 2015, my Department published the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport.  As part of the extensive preparatory work for this publication, 21 background papers were produced and one of these estimated the steady state funding requirement for our transport network, as detailed by the Deputy.  For ease of reference, I include those estimates as follows: 

  Table 1: Estimated Annual Steady State Expenditure Requirement, 2014-2016 and Post-2016 (€m)

  Average Annual Cost 2014-2016 Average Annual Cost Attributable to DTTaS 2014-2016 Average Annual Cost post-2017 Average Annual Cost Attributable to DTTaS post-2017
National Roads 585 481 573 469
RLR Roads 580 480 580 480
Heavy Rail 291 195 291 195
Luas 81 60 49 21
Buses 61 61 61 61
Integration 15 15 15 15
Total 1,613 1,292 1,569 1,241
  Disaggregating expenditure into ‘steady state’ and ‘new projects’ is difficult and, to an extent, subjective.  However, on the basis of information available, below I include my Department’s best assessment of Departmental steady state expenditure from 2014 to 2017. Note that National Roads figures for 2016 and 2017 are not currently available.  However, I have referred the Deputy’s question to Transport Infrastructure Ireland for direct reply in relation to this area.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

  Table 2: Departmental Steady State Expenditure, 2014-2017 (€m)
  2014 2015 2016 2017*
National Roads 238 244    
RLR Roads 323 292 354 286
Heavy Rail 176 173 134 159
Buses 85 48 30 64
Integration 18 19 13 9
Total 840 776 531 518
  *Projected.

  Finally, I include the shortfall between the estimated steady state requirement for each area and expenditure for the period from 2014 to 2017 below. 

  Table 3: Steady State Expenditure Deficit, 2014-2017 (€m)
  2014 2015 2016 2017* Total
National Roads -243 -237     -480
RLR Roads -157 -188 -126 -194 -665
Heavy Rail -19 -22 -61 -36 -138
Buses 21 -13 -31 3 -20
Integration 3 4 -2 -6 -1
Total -395 -456 -220 -233 -1,304
  *Projected.

  While this is not precisely the breakdown that the Deputy asked for, I hope it illustrates the point that Departmental spending has fallen short of the estimated steady state requirement for a number of years and a deficit has accumulated over the period.  While this underinvestment is understandable in light of the constrained fiscal context we are now emerging from, it is important to note that the most cost-effective way to protect our transport infrastructure – with a value running into the tens of billions – is to invest in it sufficiently on an ongoing basis to maintain the network in an adequate state. 

  It is for this reason that I welcome the increased capital allocations for my Department from now until 2021 announced as part of Budget 2018.  Aside from the many exciting new initiatives that this funding will facilitate, the increased envelopes also mean, for example, that we will be investing the required level of steady state funding into our national, regional and local road network by 2020 or 2021 and at the same time as investing in other needed infrastructure.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Parking Charges

 1081. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the reason the NTA has set maximum fees of €125 which is above the maximum fee as set out in section 15 of the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015; and the rationale for the NTA setting the fee above the rate outlined in the legislation. [47037/17]

 1082. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the recommendations the NTA has provided to the bodies responsible for statutory clamping places with regard to the level they should set clamping release charges; and his views on one body should be in charge of statutory clamping locations, that is, CIÉ, setting release charges at €120 which is above the maximum charges set out in section 15 of the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015. [47038/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 1081 and 1082 together.

  On 1 October, the National Transport Authority (NTA) assumed its responsibilities as the regulator of vehicle clamping activities in both statutory and non-statutory (privately-owned) clamping places throughout the State.

  Under the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015 the setting of a clamp release fee for clamping activities occurring in non-statutory clamping places is a matter for the NTA.

  Also under the 2015 Act it is a matter for the NTA to make recommendations to a statutory body regarding clamping activities taking place on the statutory body's property.

  As such I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

National Car Test

 1083. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross his plans to engage with farming representative bodies regarding a proposed national car test to be introduced in 2018; if he has engaged with relevant stakeholders to date; the criteria regarding the testing of tractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47088/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As the Deputy knows, I am absolutely committed to do everything I can as Minister to ensure road safety.  That is why I am determined that Ireland complies with latest EU directives on testing vehicles for their roadworthiness – not just because of our obligations under EU law.  However, it is important that we do that in a practical and enforceable way.

At my invitation, representative bodies from the agriculture and forestry sector  met with officials of my Department on 1 November to discuss their concerns about proposed regulations to comply with an EU directive regarding testing the roadworthiness of T5 tractors - that is, those which can exceed 40 km/hr in speed.   

Arising out of the range of issues that were identified by the various bodies in terms of how the regulations might impact on their members’ farms and businesses, I have asked my officials to re-examine the text of the regulations.  Subject to legal advice and further engagement with the sector, I intend to bring forward alternative proposals as a matter of urgency. 

In the meantime, I am looking at means to ensure that the current text does not take effect with any unintended consequences.

Domestic Violence Services Funding

 1084. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the departmental funding to each domestic violence refuge in each of the past five years. [46661/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence whether in the context of the family or otherwise. At all times, Tusla’s key priority is to ensure that the needs of victims of domestic violence are being met in the best way possible.

  A network of some 60 organisations provide services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence in Ireland, including 20 services providing emergency refuge accommodation to women and children and 24 community-based domestic violence services.

  Details of total Tusla funding for domestic violence services in the years 2014 up to June 2017 is set out in the table. Tusla does not hold funding details for domestic violence services prior to 2014 as these services were previously delivered through the Health Service Executive.

Name of Organisation Tusla Funding 2014 Tusla Funding 2015 Tusla Funding 2016 Tusla Allocated Funding up to June 2017
Saoirse Women's Refuge, Tallaght €681,627 €740,627 €740,627 €789,627
Teach Tearmainn Refuge, Co. Kildare €254,000 €264,000 €264,000 €264,000
Esker House Women's Refuge And Support Services, Athlone, Co. Westmeath €208,120 €261,120 €291,120 €303,120
Sonas Refuge Blanchardstown €654,397 €906,522 €906,531 €906,531
Drogheda Women's & Children's Refuge Centre, Co. Louth €439,098 €462,098 €432,098 €475,098
Meath Women's Refuge & Support Services, Co. Meath €249,555 €342,759 €342,147 €354,143
Women's Aid Dundalk, Co. Louth €414,805 €462,105 €462,105 €462,105
Aoibhneas Women & Children's Refuge, Coolock, Dublin 17 €869,817 €1,135,000 €1,035,000 €1,137,000
Bray Women's Refuge , Co. Wicklow €572,395 €584,070 €583,629 €585,621
Cuanlee Refuge, Cork €327,964 €408,738 €407,405 €409,401
Amber Refuge (Kilkenny), €389,239 €488,968 €488,968 €493,968
ADAPT Kerry Ltd., Co. Kerry €296,177 €456,478 €456,478 €469,311
Oasis House Women's Refuge, Waterford €414,181 €425,596 €424,403 €434,399
Wexford Women's Refuge €324,123 €430,073 €428,876 €428,871
Donegal Domestic Violence Services €434,802 €471,474 €470,231 €516,857
COPE Galway €631,162 €724,503 €725,227 €730,218
Cuan Saor Women's Refuge And Support Services, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary €401,248 €525,809 €536,187 €536,187
ADAPT Domestic Abuse Service, Limerick €592,736 €871,405 €864,901 €927,856
Mayo Women's Support Services Refuge €324,914 €348,664 €348,664 €348,664
Clarehaven Services, Co. Clare €469,301 €715,336 €715,336 €715,336
Women's Refuge Rathmines, Dublin €938,000 €750,000 €767,804 €767,804
  €9,887,661.00 €11,775,345 €11,691,737 €12,056,117

School Discipline

 1085. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of post-primary students that were placed on a reduced timetable in the 2016/2017 school year; the reason and duration regarding being placed on reduced timetables; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [46753/17]

 1086. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she has issued guidelines to post-primary schools regarding the rationale for placing young persons on reduced timetables; if consent for such a decision is required by the young persons, parents-guardians, teachers, principal and or board of management; the options available to young persons and their families to appeal such decisions; the minimum and maximum length of time respectively a person can be placed on a reduced timetable; the decision making mechanisms by which a young person can return to a full timetable; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [46765/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 1085 and 1086 together.

  The Educational Welfare Service of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has advised my Department that the Agency does not hold data on the number of post-primary students that are placed on reduced timetables.

  Tusla has not issued guidelines to schools on the rationale of placing students on reduced timetables. In certain cases where the number of hours missed in school due to a reduced timetable equates to 20 cumulative days in the current school year, it may be viewed as a de facto suspension.

  Where the total number of days for which the student has been suspended in the current school year reaches twenty days, the parents, or a student aged over eighteen years, may appeal the suspension under section 29 of the Education Act 1998, as amended by the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007.

Sexual Offences Data

 1087. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if Tusla will produce an annual report on sexual violence statistics for 2016 in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45629/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the provision of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence, and provides funding to some 60 organisations nationally to deliver these services.

  Since 2015, Tusla has been working in partnership with funded domestic, sexual and gender based violence services to enhance the quality and availability of data relating to the use of services. Using information provided by the funded services, Tusla will shortly be issuing a report on the activities and uptake of these services in 2016. The report will include data pertaining to the use of all specialist sexual violence/rape crisis services funded by Tusla nationally, and relates only to those who use these services.

  Tusla is mindful of obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) to gather and report on domestic, sexual and gender based violence nationally, and is working in collaboration with other bodies towards achieving Gold Standard for data collection in these services.

Departmental Reports

 1088. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her Department will contribute to the funding of a second sexual abuse and violence study here, SAVI 2; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45630/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The proposal to conduct a second Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI 2) research project has been raised for several years. The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI 1) study was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies with additional funding from the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It was published in 2002.

  As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for formulating policy in this area.  Active consideration is being given to a further SAVI type study with factors including the new sources of more recent data in relation to sexual violence available to underpin and inform policy development along with the need for ongoing investment in support services for victims. The Ministers for Justice and Equality; Health; and I are considering if statistics on sexual violence are adequate and examining if the statistics are comparable with those collated in other EU countries.

  If a decision is taken to fund a further study, my Department would be happy to consider contributing to the study, in conjunction with other departments. Importantly, in order to be compliant with public procurement rules, any commissioned research funded by my Department would be subject to the usual procurement process.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 1089. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if there is provision to extend the age band for participation on the early years care and education in exceptional circumstances; her plans to review and or extend the scheme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [45635/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Early Childhood and Education Programme (ECCE) programme was expanded from September 2016 so that children may start free pre-school from age 3, and can continue in free pre-school once the child is not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the relevant pre-school year. Currently there are three different points in the year - September, January and April.

Under Budget 2018, the ECCE programme has been expanded further so that all eligible children can avail of a full two programme year. There will also only be one enrolment point each year (i.e. September). However, I must advise the Deputy that these will not come into effect until September 2018.

An upper age limit in free pre-school was set by the Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment on the advice of the Department of Education and Skills. Limiting the diversity in age ranges in primary school is considered to be generally in the best interest of children, in relation to peer interaction in junior infants, as well as other educational considerations.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs does its best to ensure, in so far as is possible, the equitable treatment of all children and families who apply for child care funding under the ECCE Programme. In order to ensure objectivity and fairness it is essential that clear rules exist for the scheme and that they are applied in a fair manner. The rules for all the Department’s childcare schemes are clearly published to ensure transparency and consistent application. An essential component of the scheme’s rules is an eligibility date to ensure that the scheme can be administered and budgeted for in an appropriate manner.

For the programme year 2017/2018 parents may request an exemption from ECCE eligibility criteria under limited circumstances from my Department; specifically where a diagnosed special and/or medical need exists. This must be supported by a letter from a relevant medical specialist, recommending additional time in pre-school. However, please be aware that my Department is currently reviewing the overage exemption process. I would urge the parents of the child in question to contact my Department to enquire about such an exemption.

Domestic Violence Incidence

 1090. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will request Tusla to collect figures for women and children using domestic violence refuges and step down accommodation on a monthly basis for inclusion in the monthly Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government homeless figures. [45639/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the provision of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence. Services are delivered by some 60 organisations nationally, 16 providing sexual violence services, and 44 providing community based services to victims of domestic violence, of which 20 provide specialist emergency accommodation.

Tusla facilitates a range of services to victims of domestic violence and their families, including 155 family units, comprising 147 emergency refuge family units and 8 emergency non-refuge family units. The remit of these services is to provide safe emergency accommodation on a short-term basis.

As part of its national information project, Tusla gathers administrative data from its service provider organisations, on an annual basis. Currently arrangements are not in place to seek monthly data on accommodation provision from these organisations.

As refuges are used to capacity most of the time, the numbers of individual families using them remains fairly stable at any time. Depending on the number and size of families in residence at a particular moment in time, there can be variations in the numbers of children in refuges.

Tusla will be seeking further details from provider organisations in 2018 on use of refuges, and remains open to contributing to homelessness data should there be a particular request to the Agency.

Suicide Prevention

 1091. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if all front-line staff, including but not exclusively those of Tusla, receive suicide prevention training, if suicide prevention training is mandatory for front-line staff under the aegis of her Department; and if not, her plans to make such training mandatory with the provision of a refresher online course available to staff to be completed every three years thereafter.  [45656/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone While the provision of suicide prevention training to all frontline staff for the four agencies within my remit is an operational matter, I wish to inform the Deputy that I am advised by the agencies as follows:

- A number of staff in the Adoption Authority of Ireland have participated in suicide prevention training. The Authority supported their attendance and will continue to support other staff members who may wish to avail of such training. The training is not mandatory for staff of the Authority.

- To address suicide or self-harm behaviour in young people in Oberstown Children Detention Campus, training of 6 in house facilitators has commenced to roll out Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm mitigation training for all front line staff. The training selected is STORM (Skills based Training On Risk Management) a model which utilises skills-based techniques to build a skill-set for suicide risk assessment and safety planning. I am informed that this training will be provided to all frontline staff in 2018 and it will be mandatory. It is also envisaged that all staff will receive 3 year refresher training.

- While suicide prevention training is not currently mandatory for frontline staff in Tusla, it is prioritised by managers. All staff in Tusla have access to training in SafeTalk and ASSIST through the HSE regional resource officers for suicide prevention (National Office for Suicide Prevention Programme - NOSP). The NOSP online programme esuicideTALK is also available to Tusla staff. Working with NOSP, Tusla Workforce Learning and Development is developing internal capacity for delivery of SafeTalk and ASSIST.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children is independent in its function and reports to the Oireachtas on matters within its remit, as required by the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. I have forwarded the question to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and asked that they might correspond with you directly in this matter.

Sexual Offences Data

 1092. 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 if funding will be provided for an organisation (details supplied) to publish statistics on rape and sexual assault for 2016 in view of the fact that this cannot be done without same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45715/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence.

  Since its establishment in 2014, Tusla has reviewed domestic, sexual and gender based violence services with a view to providing more equitable and co-ordinated services across the country.

  It was in this context that Tusla decided to cease funding of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) and to take on direct responsibility for the development and maintenance of a database of information recorded on behalf of the Rape Crisis Centres. Tusla has created a comprehensive national dataset, including information from all funded sexual violence services.

  This is designed to ensure that Tusla to meets its requirements for data having regard to the Agency's obligations under the Council of Europe Convention for Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), and the need for high quality data to underpin responses to victims and survivors of domestic, sexual and gender based violence. It was in this context that Tusla decided to cease funding of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) in 2015.

  Funding provided to RCNI by Tusla was to develop and maintain a database of information recorded by workers in Rape Crisis Centres. Tusla was concerned that the RCNI database did not capture information from all 16 Rape Crisis Centres. At present, only 8 centres are affiliated to the Network.

  Tusla funds 60 non-statutory specialist domestic violence and sexual violence services, including: 44 Domestic Violence services and 16 Sexual Violence/Rape Crisis services. These services provide information to Tusla on the services they provide, including those provided to survivors of sexual violence.

  This information is critically important as Tusla continues to reform services to ensure that we provide the best possible response to survivors of sexual violence.

  Tusla is strongly committed to providing effective responses to survivors of sexual abuse. It takes a broad view of its responsibilities in this regard, recognising that these issues are complex and require a whole of government response. At all times, the first and key priority is to ensure that the needs of victims of sexual abuse are being met in the best way possible.

Child and Family Agency Investigations

 1093. 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 further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 516 of 17 October 2017 and 183 of 27 September 2017, when a formal response will be issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [45772/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I refer the Deputy to my reply to parliamentary question 516 of 17 October 2017; the position remains unchanged. I am advised by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, that searches were conducted on the basis of the information which was previously supplied with parliamentary question 183 of 27 September 2017. Unfortunately, that information was not sufficient enough to allow the report to be sourced. In order to facilitate further searches, I would suggest that the individual who has made representations to the Deputy make direct contact with Tusla.

Family Resource Centres

 1094. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will meet with a group (details supplied) in view of the struggles many family resource centres are facing across the country and in County Donegal which have not recovered from 30% funding cuts since 2008; the reason provisions in budget 2018 did not address the chronic under funding of existing family resource centres; the measures she will take to facilitate the recovery of the sector in order that family resource centres can continue to provide vital resources to disadvantaged families; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [45792/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am pleased to inform the Deputy that additional funding of approximately €5.0m is being made available to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to be spent between now and the end of 2018 to support the work of Family Resource Centres.

  This includes the provision of additional funding to Tusla to expand the existing Family Resource Centre Programme. A total of 11 centres will be added to the Family Resource Centre Programme in 2018. Details of the application process for this funding are available on Tusla's website, www.tusla.ie.

  Tusla is also being provided with additional funding in 2018 to support the existing 109 Family Resource Centres across the country. Centres will be asked to work with their local Tusla office to identify services needed in their community. Up to €10,000 will be available to each Family Resource Centre next year subject to approval of their proposal.

  I am also pleased to announce that my Department is providing exceptional, once-off funding for Family Resource Centres to be spent by the end of this year. This funding will be in the form of minor capital assistance. Details of the application process for this funding are available on Tusla's website, www.tusla.ie. Applications will be assessed by Tusla and the deadline for applications is Thursday, 9 November 2017.

  Tusla administers the Family Resource Centre Programme. As the Family Resource Centre Programme is managed by Tusla, it is a matter for that organisation to make decisions regarding the individual funding allocations of Family Resource Centres within the programme.

  Family Resource Centres are independent organisations. They are managed by a Voluntary Board of Management which is representative of the local community. The centres operate independently of Tusla and each individual centre is responsible for the recruitment of employees and the terms and conditions under which they are employed.

  I am happy to be in a position to support the work of centres through the targeting of additional resources to services that will impact positively on vulnerable children and families.

Child and Family Agency Expenditure

 1095. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 505 of 17 October 2017, if the 35 member firms paid €12.6 million by Tusla in fees in 2016 are contracted for service on a case-by-case basis by Tusla or paid an annual retainer or both; and the distinction between external legal counsel and member firms providing legal services to Tusla.  [45814/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to a day-to-day operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to the attention of Tusla for a directly reply.

Child and Family Agency Expenditure

 1096. 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 the services provided by a firm (details supplied) to Tusla in 2016 in view of the fact that the firm was paid a €1 million management fee by the agency in 2016. [45815/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the subject matter of the Deputy`s question relates to a day-to-day operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to the attention of the agency for direct reply to the Deputy.

Rape Crisis Network Funding

 1097. 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 funding allocated to an organisation (details supplied) in each of the years 2014 to 2017 in tabular form. [45843/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence. Since its establishment in 2014, Tusla has reviewed domestic, sexual and gender based violence services with a view to providing more equitable and co-ordinated services across the country.

  It was in this context that Tusla decided to cease funding of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) and to take on direct responsibility for the development and maintenance of a database of information recorded on behalf of the Rape Crisis Centres. Tusla has created a comprehensive national dataset, including information from all funded sexual violence services.

  This is designed to ensure that Tusla to meets its requirements for data having regard to the Agency's obligations under the Council of Europe Convention for Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), and the need for high quality data to underpin responses to victims and survivors of domestic, sexual and gender based violence. It was in this context that Tusla decided to cease funding of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) in 2015.

  Tusla has created a comprehensive national dataset relating to domestic, sexual and gender based violence, including information from all funded sexual violence services.

  Details of funding provided by Tusla to Rape Crisis Network Ireland are provided in tabular format below:

Rape Crisis Network Ireland

funding allocated by Tusla
2014 2015
Total €184,000 €44,000

Child Care Services

 1098. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to issues raised by a local authority (details supplied) in relation to child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45844/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone It is important that we acknowledge the critical role childcare workers play in delivering high quality childcare services. They deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs acknowledges that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. My Department is exploring how this can be addressed.

The Programme for Government commits to carrying out an independent review of the cost of providing quality childcare. The 'Independent Review of the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare' which will be carried out by Crowe Horwath, will examine the costs faced by childcare providers in delivering quality childcare, including a survey of childcare providers. Following completion the review is intended to be used to strengthen the evidence base underpinning investment in early years. As such, it will feed into future policy development, including in relation to levels of payments to services.

In terms of pay for the Early Years sector, it must be noted that my Department is not the direct employer of childcare workers. However, in terms of improving pay and conditions I have suggested to the sector that they could apply to the Labour Court for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO), asking the Court to make a recommendation in relation to pay for the whole Early Years sector.

Under an SEO process, organisations substantially representative of employers and employees come together to agree a way forward and submissions are sought from key stakeholders. My Department would not be party to the SEO process, however, as a significant funder, and with policy responsibility for quality, my Department would be well placed to make a submission to the Court once it publishes its notice in relation to the matter of the application for a SEO for the sector. I will be very supportive of any reasonable measures aimed at improving pay and conditions of the Early Years sector. While my Department does not have direct control over the matter, it will continue to support any appropriate initiatives in this area.

In the interim, my Department continues to invest significant resources in the early years sector. In the last three Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) investment in Early Years sector has increased by some 87% which reflect the emphasis being placed on developing a quality service with appropriately supported staff. This has helped to address affordability, access and quality, although it is recognised that there is more to be done. The announcement under Budget 2018 to increase ECCE capitation rates by 7% is intended to support the workforce.

The funding provided by my Department has always been intended to be sufficient to cater for all of the costs associated with the childcare schemes funded, including administrative and "non-contact time" work, or to fund this pro-rata where my Department's contribution is a part of the total cost of care provided. Notwithstanding this, to take account of the additional administrative burden on childcare providers as the result of significant changes to the childcare schemes in 2016-2017, including the expansion of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme to include three intake points, contractual changes and the coming into force of the Childcare Regulations, some €14.5 million was provided in 2017 to be drawn down as a "non-contact time" payment for providers, equivalent to seven days' funding. I have also secured an additional once-off payment of up to €3.5 million in December in respect of the Community Childcare Universal Subsidy (CCSU). This will bring the overall total 'non-contact' support (or 'Programme Support Payments') to €18m in 2017. In Budget 2018, it was announced that €18m in programme support payments will be continued for the coming year. This funding is also intended to support providers and their employees.

On 11 April 2017, I made an announcement that the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) would not commence this September but that a range of measures would be introduced in September by my Department to make childcare more affordable for thousands of families throughout Ireland. This honours a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

The ‘September measures’ relate to the introduction of the Community Childcare Subvention Universal (CCSU) payment and the increase in band rates across the different strands of the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Scheme and the Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Scheme. As part of these 'September measures', a universal subsidy is available for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years of age (or until they qualify for ECCE if later than 36 months) in registered childcare. This amounts to up to €20 a week or €1,040 per year for children in full time childcare.

I am keenly aware of the pressures on the sector with regard to availability of places and sustainability and, following on from significant investment in 2016 and 2017, my Department will provide €6.86m for its capital funding programme under Budget 2018.

Although my Department has been successful in securing additional funding for this sector over the past three budgets, as outlined above, it is acknowledged that much more must be done if we are truly to have affordable, accessible, quality childcare and continue to improve both the affordability and quality of childcare. To this end I will continue to engage with Government colleagues with a view to securing additional investment for the Early Years sector in future budgets. Childcare workers are part of a growing sector, which the Government is strongly supporting. My Department and I believe that by working together with all the stakeholders in the Early Years sector we can ensure that it is a viable and strong sector which makes a significant contribution to the care and personal development of our children.

I am committed to ensuring childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality..

Departmental Websites

 1099. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the external company undertaking an audit of her departmental website; the cost of the audit; the timeframe for its completion  [45854/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There is no audit of the website of my Department being undertaken.

Early Childhood Care and Education Data

 1100. 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 the number of ECCE places available in each county as of September 2017 in tabular form. [45933/17]

 1101. 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 the number of children that were eligible for the ECCE scheme in September 2017 by county.  [45934/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 1100 and 1101 together.

  The information requested is not yet available for September 2017 so I have provided the same information for the previous year (2016 - 2017) as published in the Early Years Sector Profile 2016 - 2017. It is expected that the figures for September 2017 will be similar to the previous year's figures. Please see the table and for further information I refer you to the report which can be found on the Pobal website. The analysis covers 3-5 year olds which correlates with ECCE eligibility.

  It should also be noted that not all parents take up their full allocation. For example some parents may choose to send their children to primary school at a younger age rather than take up a second year of ECCE.

County 3 - 5 year olds capacity 3 - 5 year olds population
Carlow 1689 1721
Cavan 1919 2419
Clare 3121 3456
Cork City 3102 2482
Cork County 10968 13228
Donegal 4197 4557
Dublin - Dublin City 10873 11908
Dublin - Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown 4926 5637
Dublin - Fingal 8556 10620
Dublin - South Dublin 6960 9201
Galway 6921 7506
Kerry 3469 3922
Kildare 5980 7289
Kilkenny 2731 3014
Laois 2516 2859
Leitrim 618 915
Limerick 5123 5446
Longford 1049 1315
Louth 3437 3995
Mayo 3188 3514
Meath 5747 6797
Monaghan 1781 1957
Offaly 2079 2347
Roscommon 1517 1843
Sligo 1628 1876
Tipperary 4195 4523
Waterford 2948 3185
Westmeath 2797 2667
Wexford 3923 4335
Wicklow 4024 4377


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