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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 470-489
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Staff
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Standards
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Data
 Header Item Aftercare Services
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Seniors Alert Scheme
 Header Item CLÁR Programme

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 963 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 99 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 470-489

 Question No. 470 answered with Question No. 458.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

 471. 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 consultations that were undertaken with parents, teachers, early years providers and representative groups in advance of the announcement of the removal of the early childhood care and education, ECCE, overage exemption.  [52994/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone On Wednesday 6th December I announced that I have paused a decision on this matter so that further consultation with parents will occur. Since ECCE was introduced in 2010, approximately 500 children availed of the exemption each year, although for reasons set out below, it was expected that much fewer than this would have applied in 2018.

This original decision to remove the overage exemption was made with the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and in close collaboration with members of the AIM Cross-Sectoral Implementation Group, which includes representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the National Disability Authority, the HSE, City and County Childcare Committees, a representative of parents of children with special needs and a representative of early years providers.

There was broad agreement from the DES, NCSE and other stakeholders that, in light of the very significant developments and improvements to free pre-school education, both in terms of the two year duration of ECCE and the range of supports available, and the very significant supports that are in place for children in primary schools, the overage exemption would no longer support the overarching policy aim that children should transition to primary school with their peers. The decision acknowledged the supports provided by the relevant primary school, the National Council for Special Education and other bodies as required.

It is important that I set out the rationale for the original decision. The recent announcement of changes was designed to support the achievement of better outcomes for children with disabilities. No child would have lost out as a result of the overage exemption being removed.

Overage exemptions were introduced at the onset of the ECCE programme in 2010. At that time, the ECCE Programme only operated for a 38 week period, or one programme year. For some children with special/additional needs, attending preschool five days a week was not feasible and so an allowance was made to enable them split ECCE over 2 years, for example, a child may have availed of 3 days ECCE provision in year one and 2 days in year two. Their total ECCE provision remained at 38 weeks.

In order to facilitate this, in the cases where the child would have been over the age limit for ECCE (5 years and 6 months when finishing ECCE) an overage exemption was approved. This flexibility was never intended to conflict with the legislative requirement to start school by age six. The law and policy on school start-age is clearly established in Ireland. Children should be in school by the time they are six years of age and the primary school system has a variety of resources to support children with disabilities. If children are not in school by six, under the Educational Welfare Act, the Educational Welfare service of Tusla must be satisfied that the child is receiving a minimum standard of education in a place other than a recognised school. Tusla does this by sending Educational Welfare Inspectors out to the place of the child's education. Should this be required, this would be in addition to the Early Years Inspectorates funded by my Department.

Since ECCE was first introduced, DCYA has worked, with some success, to improve the pre-school experience for children with disabilities and to optimise their early development. The two main enhancements are:

- ECCE entitlement currently averages at 61 weeks, up from 38 weeks, and it will expand further to 76 weeks from September 2018. This is in keeping with good international practice.

- The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) has been introduced with 7 different levels of support for children with disabilities. Over 4,000 children have so far benefited from targeted supports and many multiples of this from universal supports available under AIM.

Purely in the best interests of children, and for no other reason, a proposal was considered to remove the overage exemption to the upper age limit to the Programme. This was signalled last year, but in order to give longer notice to parents and providers, the planned introduction was delayed until September 2018. The motivation underpinning this development is entirely evidence based. Children with a disability benefit from early intervention, high quality early childhood care and education and high quality primary school education. In this regard my Department is complementing the work of the HSE's role in early intervention and the Department of Educations and Skills' role in high quality primary school education by:

- expanding the ECCE programme so that all children have access to a full 76 weeks, double what was available in 2010.

- providing access to the comprehensive suite of resources under the Access and Inclusion model (AIM), introduced in September 2016.

The evidence is that children with a disability should start school with their peers once they have access to high quality and inclusive primary school education. The evidence is also that they should become teenagers with their peers and transition to secondary school with their peers.

Notwithstanding the strong evidence base underpinning this proposal as being in the best interests of the children concerned, and the significant enhancements to the ECCE scheme in terms of two years' duration and access to AIM supports; measures which effectively address the reasons for introducing the overage exemptions in the first place, I am also conscious of the need to listen further to those with concerns. To this end, as stated above, I have paused the proposed change and committed to consulting more widely with parents of children with disabilities. I have also committed to having this consultation completed by mid 2018..

Question No. 472 answered with Question No. 458.

Child Care Services

 473. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of staff within the county child care committees who have been trained to deliver the diversity equality and inclusion training; the costs of providing this training; the number of staff that have then been trained by the county child care committee in this course; the way in which the outputs are evaluated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53003/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. AIM is a child-centred and evidence-based model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school setting.

Level 1 of AIM is the critical foundation for the model and sets out to foster and embed a strong culture of inclusion to support all children’s maximum participation in the ECCE programme. Under this level, a new Inclusion Charter has been developed. Updated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines have been published and a nationwide training programme on these Guidelines is currently being rolled out.

There are more than 100 trainers delivering this training programme nationally, of which 88 are City and County Childcare Committee (CCC) staff. The total cost of providing training to these trainers was €61,780.92. This includes the costs of developing the training, tutors, materials, room hire and refreshments for 6 train the trainer programmes. A further amount of €16,085.21 was spent on monitoring the quality of the delivery of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion training programme.

€620,000 was provided to CCCs in 2017 to roll-out the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion training programme to pre-school practitioners nationwide.

By end November, a total of 2,749 pre-school practitioners completed this training from over 1,500 pre-school settings. A further 26 courses are expected to be completed by end 2017.

Early Childhood Ireland lead on quality assurance for the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion training programme and have carried out a number of monitoring and supporting visits to observe training being delivered. The CCCs also complete evaluations at the end of every course they deliver.

Work on an End of Year One Review of AIM has commenced and is expected to be completed by mid-2018. The scope of the Review includes consideration of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion training programme.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 474. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the payroll costs, overhead costs, travel and subsistence costs and management costs for the Better Start access and inclusion model, AIM; the outputs from this model of delivery to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [53004/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. AIM is a child-centred and evidence-based model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school setting. AIM was launched in June 2016 and is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department.

  The oversight and delivery of all seven levels of AIM supports require input from staff across the Departments of Children and Youth Affairs, Education and Skills and Health and from a range of agencies/organisations (including City/County Childcare Committees (CCCs), Early Years Specialist Services, Health Services Executive, Mary Immaculate College Consortium, National Council for Special Education, National Disability Authority and Pobal). Many of these staff perform this role as part of their core work. Therefore, it is not possible to separate the AIM-related payroll, overhead, travel and subsistence and management costs from the core costs for many of these staff.

  - €1.065m has been allocated to CCCs in 2017 for operational costs associated with AIM Levels 1 and 3 (An Inclusive Culture and Information for Parents and Providers). This allocation includes provision for payroll costs, overhead costs, travel and subsistence and management costs. The bulk of the allocation is to cover the cost of the national roll-out of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Training Programme, the roll-out of AIM information sessions and the provision of AIM-related supports (information or otherwise) to parents and providers.

  - €5.890m has been allocated to Pobal in 2017 for operational costs associated with AIM Level 4 (Provision of Expert Early Years Educational Advice and Support). This allocation includes provision for payroll costs, overhead costs, travel and subsistence and management costs. The bulk of the allocation is to cover the cost of employing 60 (WTE) Early Years Specialists, 7 coordinators as well as providing management and administrative support.

  - €1.736m has been allocated to Pobal in 2017 for operational costs associated with AIM Levels 1 (An Inclusive Culture), 5 (Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alteration Grants) and 7 (Additional Assistance in the Pre-School Room). The bulk of the allocation is to cover the cost of employing 17.1 (WTE) staff: 1 team leader, 5 coordinators, 7.1 (WTE) administrators and 4 support officers.

  Some of the key AIM outputs to date across all seven levels of support include:

  Level 1 (An Inclusive Culture)

  - A new Inclusion Charter for the Early Years Sector has been developed and updated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines have been published. A nationwide training programme on these Guidelines is currently being rolled out. By end November, a total of 203 courses on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Training Programme have been completed by 2,554 pre-school practitioners from 1,500 pre-school settings. A further 26 courses will be completed by end 2017.   

  - A new higher education programme, Leadership for Inclusion for Early Years (LINC). 847 pre-school practitioners have graduated from the LINC Programme 2016/17 and 857 pre-school practitioners are participating on the LINC Programme 2017/2018.

  - Graduates from the LINC Programme go on to work as Inclusion Coordinators in their pre-school setting. Pre-school settings employing an Inclusion Co-ordinator (who has graduated from LINC Programme and has agreed to take on the role and responsibilities of an Inclusion Coordinator) will receive an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting. By 12th December, 755 pre-school settings were approved for additional capitation under Level 1 (i.e. these settings have nominated Inclusions Coordinators in place).

  Level 2 (Information for Parents and Providers)

- A dedicated AIM website has been developed (www.aim.gov.ie).

  Level 3 (A Qualified and Confident Workforce)

  - A baseline survey of existing qualifications and training supports has been completed to identify training needs and skills gaps among pre-school practitioners and a national programme of training supports has been agreed. The roll-out of the national programme of training supports will commence in 2018.

  Level 4 (Provision of Expert Early Years Educational Advice and Support)

  - For the 2016/2017 ECCE programme year, 2,530 applications were received for Level 4 support, of which 2,462 were approved. The Early Years Specialists made 7,900 visits to pre-school settings.

  - For the 2017/2018 ECCE programme year (to date), 1,844 applications were received for Level 4 supports, of which 1,586 were approved. The Early Years Specialist have made 3,474 visits to date with a further 238 scheduled.

  Level 5 (Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alteration Grants)

  - For 2016/2017 ECCE Programme, 299 applications for equipment were received of which 221 were approved. A further 48 applications for minor alterations were received of which 32 were approved.

  - For the 2017/2018 ECCE Programme (to date), 197 applications for equipment were received with 147 approved. A further 35 applications for minor alterations were received of which 22 were approved.

  Level 6 (Therapeutic Intervention)

  - For 2016/2017 ECCE Programme, 75 referrals were made to the HSE by the Early Years Specialist Service.

  - For 2017/2018 ECCE Programme (to date), 17 referrals have been made to the HSE by the Early Years Specialist Service.

  - HSE therapists also supported applications for AIM Levels 5 and 7.

  Level 7 (Additional Assistance in the Pre-School Room)

  - For 2016/2017 ECCE Programme, 2,555 applications for Level 7 support were received, of which 2,045 were approved.

  - For 2017/2018 ECCE Programme (to date), 1,836 applications for Level 7 supports were received, of which 1,317 were approved. A further 738 applications rolled over from the 2016/2017 ECCE Programme Year, of which 652 were approved.

Early Childhood Care and Education Staff

 475. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of access and inclusion staff in place within Pobal's better start; the structure of same within Pobal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53005/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. AIM is a child-centred and evidence-based model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school setting. AIM was launched in June 2016 and is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department.

  AIM Level 4 provides access to mentoring and support for pre-school practitioners from a team of dedicated AIM Early Years Specialists to ensure that all children with disabilities can access and fully participate in preschool.

  The team of the AIM Early Years Specialist Service, which are located in Pobal, consists of the following staff:

Posts in Better Start Whole Time Equivalent (WTE)
National Manager 0.64
Team Leader 0.64
Support Officer 1
ICT Administrator 0.64
Admin Co-ordinator 0.64
Early Years Specialists 60
EYS Co-ordinators 7
  70.56


  The Early Years Specialists work in 7 teams in 9 locations nationally.

  In addition to the AIM Early Years Specialist team, Pobal also has responsibilities at other levels of AIM, most notably AIM Levels 1 (An Inclusive Culture), 5 (Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations Grants) and 7 (Additional Assistance in the Pre-School Room). The Pobal AIM team consists of 17.1 WTE staff: 1 team leader, 5 coordinators, 7.1 (WTE) administrators and 4 support officers.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 476. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding the early childhood care and education, ECCE, programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [53022/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone It is important to be clear that there has been no withdrawal, or proposal to withdraw, any ECCE entitlement from children with disabilities. All children will be entitled to 76 weeks or 2 academic years of ECCE from September 2018. On Wednesday 6 December I announced that I have paused a decision on the upper age limit exemption for ECCE so that further consultation with parents can occur. This means that for the 2018/2019 ECCE year the overage exemption will continue to be available. Since ECCE was introduced in 2010, approximately 500 children availed of the exemption each year, although for reasons set out below, it is expected that much fewer than this would have applied in 2018. I hope that my decision of last Wednesday will bring the parents who planned to apply for this overage exemption from September 2018 some relief and I encourage them to make sure their views are represented in the consultation that will occur over the coming months, the details of which I will publish shortly.

It is important that I set out the rationale for the original decision. The recent announcement of changes was designed to support the achievement of better outcomes for children with disabilities. No child would have lost out as a result of the overage exemption being removed.

Overage exemptions were introduced at the onset of the ECCE programme in 2010. At that time, the ECCE Programme only operated for a 38 week period, or one programme year. For some children with special/additional needs, attending preschool five days a week was not feasible and so an allowance was made to enable them split ECCE over 2 years, for example, a child may have availed of 3 days ECCE provision in year one and 2 days in year two. Their total ECCE provision remained at 38 weeks.

In order to facilitate this, in the cases where the child would have been over the age limit for ECCE (5 years and 6 months when finishing ECCE) an overage exemption was approved. This flexibility was never intended to conflict with the legislative requirement to start school by age six. The law and policy on school start-age is clearly established in Ireland. Children should be in school by the time they are six and the primary school system has a variety of resources to support children with disabilities. If children are not in school by the age of six, under the Educational Welfare Act, the Educational Welfare service of Tusla must be satisfied that the child is receiving a minimum standard of education in a place other than a recognised school. Tusla does this by sending Educational Welfare Inspectors out to the place of the child's education. Should this be required, this would be in addition to the Early Years Inspectorates funded by my Department.

Since ECCE was first introduced, DCYA has worked, with some success, to improve the pre-school experience for children with disabilities and to optimise their early development. The two main enhancements are:

- ECCE entitlement currently averages at 61 weeks, up from 38 weeks, and it will expand further to 76 weeks from September 2018. This is in keeping with good international practice.

- The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) has been introduced with 7 different levels of support for children with disabilities. Over 4,000 children have so far benefited from targeted supports and many multiples of this from universal supports available under AIM.

Purely in the best interests of children, and for no other reason, a proposal was considered to remove the overage exemption to the upper age limit to the Programme. This was signalled last year, but in order to give longer notice to parents and providers, the planned introduction was delayed until September 2018. The motivation underpinning this development is entirely evidence based. Children with a disability benefit from early intervention, high quality early childhood care and education and high quality primary school education. In this regard my Department is complementing the work of the HSE's role in early intervention and the Department of Educations and Skill's role in high quality primary school education by:

- expanding the ECCE programme so that all children have access to a full 76 weeks, double what was available in 2010.

- providing access to the comprehensive suite of resources under the Access and Inclusion model (AIM), introduced in September 2016.

The evidence is that children with a disability should start school with their peers once they have access to high quality and inclusive primary school education. The evidence is also that they should become teenagers with their peers and transition to secondary school with their peers.

The original decision to remove the overage exemption was made with the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and in close collaboration with members of the AIM Cross-Sectoral Implementation Group, which includes representatives from the National Council for Special Education, the National Disability Authority, the HSE, a representative of parents of children with special needs and a representative of early years providers. There was broad agreement that, in light of the very significant developments and improvements to free pre-school education, both in terms of the two year duration of ECCE and the range of supports available, and the very significant supports that are in place for children in primary schools, the overage exemption would no longer support the overarching policy aim that children should transition to primary school with their peers. The decision acknowledged the supports provided by the relevant primary school, the National Council for Special Education and other bodies as required.

Notwithstanding the strong evidence base underpinning this proposal as being in the best interests of the children concerned, and the significant enhancements to the ECCE scheme in terms of two years' duration and access to AIM supports, measures which effectively address the reasons for introducing the overage exemptions in the first place, I am also conscious of the need to listen further to those with concerns. To this end, as stated above, I have paused the proposed change and committed to consulting more widely with parents of children with disabilities. I have also committed to having this consultation completed by mid 2018..

Questions Nos. 477 to 479, inclusive, answered with Question No. 458.

Early Childhood Care and Education Standards

 480. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her Department has adjudicated on the case of a person (details supplied) in relation to their qualifications; if this person can continue working in this sector while her Department's decision is awaited and while the person makes the necessary arrangements to upskill to the required qualification in order that this child care facility can continue to operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53124/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department received a qualifications assessment application from the person named and a response issued to her on the 20th of October. DCYA officials indicated in the response that the individual should provide additional information if she is in a position to do so; to date DCYA has had no further contact from the person concerned.

New regulations were introduced for the Early Years sector in June of 2016. Part 3.9.4 of these regulations established a minimum qualification standard for those working directly with pre-school children. This qualification standard was introduced following extensive consultation with the Early Years sector, and the intention to introduce a minimum qualification standard was announced as far back as 2013. It was broadly welcomed as being in the best interests of children.

Extensive funding was made available over a period of four years to allow sector workers to undertake, upgrade or update their qualifications. To facilitate those who had many years of experience in the sector but were unwilling or unable to pursue new training, a 'grandfathering' clause was included in the Regulations. Those wishing to avail of the option of signing a 'grandfathering' declaration were able to do so through their local County/City Childcare Committee (CCC), but as is standard with such derogations, the option was available only up to a certain point in time. 'Grandfathering' declarations must have been signed by the 30th June 2016, at which point the regulations commenced. This is itemised in Part 3.9.6 of the regulations.

The qualifications minimum standard as provided in the Regulations commenced on the 1st of January 2017; again, the interval between the commencement of the regulations and the commencement of the section pertaining to qualification standards was allowed following consultation with the Early Years sector.

After the 1st of January 2017, anyone working directly with pre-school children in an Early Years service must meet the minimum regulatory standard. DCYA cannot issue permission for anyone to continue working with pre-school children if they do not meet the minimum regulatory standard, even if it is the case that further training is now been undertaken; such an action would see DCYA being in breach of its own regulations.

The Tusla Early Years Inspectorate is responsible for inspecting Early Years services for the purposes of compliance with the minimum regulatory standards and any instance of non-compliance should be raised with this Inspectorate.

The Deputy should note that the current regulations apply only to pre-schools services. The regulations do not apply to after-school services..

Child and Family Agency Data

 481. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of senior practitioner social workers employed by Tusla; the number planned to be appointed in 2018; the estimated extra cost to Tusla per senior practitioner appointed; the contractual obligations of senior practitioners in comparison to both social work team leaders and professionally qualified social workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53125/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla has advised that it currently employs 67 Senior Practitioner Social Workers and by the end of 2018 Tusla expects to appoint 130 Senior Social Work Practitioners.

  Information in relation to the estimated cost to Tusla per senior practitioner appointed is set out in the table below:

Cost for a SW Senior Practitioner
Basic €56,781
PRSI €6,104
Total Pay €62,885
Overhead €4,195
Total Cost €77,080


  Tusla is working to ensure that its existing social workers operate in a supportive structure. Tusla recruitment is informed by its evaluation of management and staff skills mix with a view to service enhancement. Part of this evaluation includes looking at enhanced job roles, multi-disciplinary team-working, re-designing tasks and promoting greater efficiency to alleviate pressure. The introduction of Senior Social Worker Practitioner posts designated to Social Work teams around the country is an example of this and will further assist with retention by providing enhanced professional support to social work staff.   

  With regard to the contractual obligations of senior practitioners in comparison to social work team leaders and to professionally qualified social workers, Tusla has kindly provided job specifications for the three grades for the information of the Deputy.

Aftercare Services

 482. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of persons engaging with aftercare services from either Tusla or a voluntary agency, by age and area. [53127/17]

 483. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of persons engaged with aftercare services that are registered with homeless services. [53128/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 482 and 483 together.

  1,914 young adults aged 18-22 were in receipt of aftercare services at the end of the third quarter of 2017. An additional 75 persons aged 23-25 and upwards also received aftercare services.

  See the table below for a breakdown of this figure by area.

  Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has informed me that it does not collate data centrally regarding the number of young persons engaged with aftercare services who are registered with homeless services.

Area The number of young adults aged 18-22 in receipt of an aftercare service* The number of young adults aged 18 years and up, incld.those 25 or older in receipt of an aftercare service*
Dublin South Central 109 109
Dublin South East Wicklow 109 111
Dublin South West Kildare West Wicklow 162 169
The Midlands 117 123
Dublin City North 159 162
Dublin North 86 89
Louth Meath 155 155
Cavan Monaghan 70 70
Cork 239 249
Kerry 38 40
Carlow Kilkenny South Tipperary 124 127
Waterford Wexford 137 137
The Midwest 162 169
Galway Roscommon 136 151
Mayo 31 40
Donegal 48 54
Sligo Leitrim West Cavan 32 34
Total 1,914 1,989


  *Data on the last day of the reporting period, Quarter 3 2017

Question No. 484 answered with Question No. 458.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 485. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the consultation process which she plans to hold with parents of children with disabilities ahead of the proposed changes to the overage exemption in the free preschool programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [53137/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have committed to consulting further with parents of children with disabilities before a decision is made on the future of the over-age exemption for the ECCE scheme.

  Approximately 500 children have availed of the exemption every year since ECCE was introduced in 2010.

  My officials are working closely with the Department of Education and Skills in designing the consultation and also taking advice from the Cross Sectoral Implementation Group (CSIG) of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). CSIG includes senior officials from the Department of Education and Skills, National Council for Special Education, National Disability Authority, City/Community Childcare Committees, Pobal and representatives of parents of children with disabilities and Early Years providers.

  I will publish details of the consultation when available and am committed to having it completed by mid 2018.

School Completion Programme

 486. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for changes to the management of school completion programmes, particularly those that relate to voluntary secondary schools; if consideration is being given to transferring the management to ETBs to ensure effective governance and the continuing working of the programmes which have proved very beneficial to the students that participate in them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53171/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I believe that the School Completion Programme is critical to ensuring that children who are most at risk of early school leaving are supported to stay in education. However, I believe that it needs to be reformed to ensure that it delivers the best possible outcomes for children. To this end, I am examining carefully how best to strengthen it.

Any reforms will be informed by the ESRI review of the Programme, which acknowledged its great contribution to vulnerable children, but which pointed to the need for an improved governance structure and revised model of employment.

In particular, I want to ensure that services under the Programme are compliant with financial and governance rules, and that we have a good model of service delivery throughout the country. I also want to ensure that those employed under the Programme have clear contracts of employment and that their work is properly coordinated.

I am deeply committed to an effective reform of this programme, not only in relation to the governance and employment issues, but also the programmes, supports and processes that are in place to ensure that young people complete school. I am reviewing the extensive consultation process that has been carried out. I am considering recommendations from the expert panel that Tusla has established to consider possible options for reform. I also plan to consult with experts across the educational welfare sector before making any decisions.

In my view the reform will incorporate universal supports as well as targeted supports to ensure that those most in need are reached by the programme. It is critical that we have a whole school approach to this, as well as ensuring that other child and family supports, delivered by statutory or voluntary agencies, are integrated so that the child or young person has the best chance of staying in school. I am also committed to incorporating recognition of the strengths and capabilities of the child or young person into these reforms. I believe that the emotional stability young person is critical in enabling their engagement in learning, and contributes to their desire to finish school.

In the meantime, Tusla's Educational Welfare Service has taken important steps to support the current service, including arranging independent Human Resources and Industrial Relations advice, and contracting with other parties to support governance, training and continued professional development of staff.

I believe that the School Completion Programme deserves careful reflection and analysis so that we achieve the best possible reformed services for children.

Departmental Contracts

 487. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will raise with a company (details supplied) that is engaged by the HSE on State contracts the reason it does not recognise a union which represents its staff in view of the fact that it recognises a union in Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [53236/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Department of Children and Youth Affairs have a contract with the organisation concerned to provide the pilot Bail Supervision Scheme for a 2 year period following a public tender. This Department has no role in the operation of this organisation or in Human Resources within their organisation.

Seniors Alert Scheme

 488. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring his views on funding safety items such as alarms, censor lights, carbon monoxide alarms and so on (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53237/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring My Department is responsible for the Seniors Alert Scheme which encourages community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable them to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.  Funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase by a registered community-based organisation of a personal alarm or pendant. 

Following a review, a new version of the scheme came into effect on 1 November 2017. A number of changes were introduced under the new scheme including the provision of free monitoring for the first year and a revision of the living alone requirements.

There are no proposals, at this stage, to include sensor lights, smoke or carbon monoxide alarms within the ambit of this scheme.  However, the matter will be kept under review. The issue of the installation of house alarms is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality under his remit of community crime prevention.

CLÁR Programme

 489. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring if funding will be made available under the CLÁR capital investment programme in 2018; if so, when it will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52758/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The 2017 CLÁR programme provided total funding of just under €7 million this year for 230 projects across four Measures as follows:

  Measure 1: Support for School and Community Safety Measures

  Measure 2: Play Areas

  Measure 3: Targeted Community Infrastructure

  Measure 4: First Responder Supports

  Details of the approved projects are available on my Department's website at http://drcd.gov.ie/subheader1/clar.

  Decisions regarding the National Rural Development Schemes (including Clár) and the resources that might be funded will be made in the New Year.


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