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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1130-1151
 Header Item Child Care Services Data
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Reports
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item National Educational Psychological Service
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Affordable Childcare Scheme
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Child Abuse
 Header Item Programme for Government
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item HSE Funding
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Data
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Cúram agus Oideachas na Luath-Óige
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Commencement of Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Strategies

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1130-1151

Child Care Services Data

 1130. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the amount of naíonraí operating here; and the number of children attending same. [24638/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone A Naíonra is defined as a playgroup run through Irish for children (aged 3-5 years), who attend daily for 2-3 hours, under the guidance and supervision of a Stiúrthóir (Leader).

Research indicates that children make significant advances in Irish language development during their time in a Naíonra, which leads to increased use of Irish in their homes as their parents try to help them acquire the language.

Officials from my Department contacted Pobal who confirmed that, currently, there are 228 childcare services that identify as Naíonraí on the PIP system. Since the start of the current programme year a total of 10,475 children have registered for supports at these services.

Child Protection

 1131. 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. 1676 of 11 September 2017, when a response from Tusla will be forthcoming. [24242/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am aware that a considerable length of time has passed since the most recent update from Tusla in relation to this matter. I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to request an update and will write to the Deputy once I have had their response.

Child and Family Agency Reports

 1132. 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 if she will provide a copy of the inquiry report by a person (details supplied). [24243/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy. I have asked Tusla to furnish me with a copy of the response.

Family Resource Centres

 1133. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone further to Parliamentary Question No. 192 of 16 May 2018, if further funding will be allocated for family resource centre programmes in budget 2019; the category in which a centre (details supplied) has to improve a future application to provide a family resource centre; and the nature of Tusla’s plans to deliver through its commissioning approach for the Dublin 12 area. [24269/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Family support is an important priority for me, and the increased level of funding for Family Resource Centres in 2018 reflects this. Family Resource Centres are front-line services rooted in the communities they serve. Acting as a focal point within their communities, Family Resource Centres provide a holistic service of child, family and community support and advocacy to all children and families in their communities.

At the end of 2017, there were 109 Family Resource Centres in receipt of funding from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Tusla was provided with additional funding of some €3m in 2018 to expand the programme with the inclusion of 11 additional centres, bringing the total number of Family Resource Centres to 120.

Tusla administers the Family Resource Centre Programme. As part of the decision making process in choosing 11 new Family Resource Centres to join the Programme, Tusla engaged with local Tusla staff in areas around the country, as well as local Children and Young People's Service Committees (CYPSCs).

As outlined in my previous response to the Deputy, Tusla has advised me that the quality of applications received was of a very high standard. Tusla has indicated that the organisation to which the Deputy refers is welcome to seek specific feedback on its application from Tusla, with a view to future development.

Tusla has identified a need for family support services in specified areas of the country, including the Dublin 12 area. Tusla particularly wishes to develop its family support services in disadvantaged areas and will seek to allocate future funding according to the results of needs analysis projects across the country.

Decisions with regard to funding levels in 2019 will be taken in the context of the Estimates process. It is not possible therefore at this stage to advise on what level of funding will be available to family support services or the Family Resource Centre Programme next year. However, I strongly value this work, and I will certainly be making the case for a continued investment in family support services in 2019 and beyond.

National Educational Psychological Service

 1134. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if funding will continue to be provided to schools for counselling (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24278/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In response to the Deputy's question I wish to highlight that the Department of Education and Skills through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides assistance to all schools that experience critical incidents. As highlighted such incidents can arise if a tragedy befalls a school community.

  My Department offers some counselling supports to schools through a small scale grant provision for counselling supports to children who have experienced bereavement or loss.

  This grant scheme was operated in the past by the Family Support Agency (FSA) when it was established in 2003 and then subsequently to Tusla on establishment in January 2014.

  Up until 2011 applications were invited through an annual public advertisement. The scheme was then capped for financial reasons and no new applications have been accepted since that time.

  Those who received funding in 2011 have continued to receive an annual grant. This Counselling Grants Scheme is for a total of €245,900 annually and currently there are 64 grantees nationwide benefitting from it.

  This situation will continue as is for 2018 so as to ensure the provision of counselling supports for those within the Counselling Grants Scheme.

Youth Services Funding

 1135. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if funding is available for schools or other organisations to provide safer social media alternatives to children and young persons. [24382/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department does not provide funding directly to schools or youth organisations to provide safer social media alternatives to children and young persons. However my Department does provide general youth funding under the youth services grant scheme to three national youth organisations which provide on-line safety resources for the youth sector. The National Youth Council of Ireland provides the Web Safety in Youth Work Resource, SpunOut has developed an online safety hub which provides guidelines for young people on on-line safety and Youth Work Ireland, in conjunction with McAfee Security, has developed a digital safety programme which highlights the risks associated with on-line activity.

Affordable Childcare Scheme

 1136. 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 estimated additional cost in 2018 of increasing the universal minimum subsidy across the affordable childcare scheme, assuming the minimum targeted subsidy is increased in tandem in 50 cent intervals up to an additional €4.50 reaching €5 per hour, assuming a start date of September; the estimated cost for a full year; and the number of children that would benefit. [24417/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am replying to the Deputy on the understanding that she is referring to the Community Childcare Subvention (Universal) Scheme (CCSU).

  As part of the Government policy to make childcare more affordable, in September 2017 I introduced a universal childcare subvention payment of up to €20 per week for families using eligible childcare providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry to the ECCE scheme.

  The maximum weekly universal childcare subsidy is €20. As CCS subsidies are currently paid according to session type, i.e. full-time, part-time, sessional, half-sessional, this maximum weekly universal subsidy rate of €20 is paid on a pro-rata basis according to session type and is not paid on an hourly basis. Please see the following table for a breakdown of the rates per session type.

UCS Session Type Weekly Subsidy
Full-time (i.e. 5 hours plus per day) €20
Part-time (i.e. 3 hours 31 minutes to 5 hours per day) €10
Sessional (i.e. 2 hours 16 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes per day) €7
Half-sessional (i.e. 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes per day) €3.50


  The subsidy-rates according to session type are based on a rate of 50 cents per hour, allocated pro-rata depending on the number of hours per week the child attends a childcare service. The maximum rate of €20 per week - for full-time childcare - is based on 40 hours of childcare per week.

  On the basis of the most recent data regarding the number of children availing of the universal payment across all session types and assuming no change in demand, the table below shows estimates of the full year cost of CCSU at the current rate of 50 cent per hour and the projected full year cost of CCSU if increased by 50 cent intervals up to €5 per hour. It should be stressed that the projected full-year cost of €170.8m is based on an assumption that the demand for childcare would not change in response to the increase in the universal subsidy. If the increased subsidy were to lead to an increase in the demand for childcare, then the cost of the measure would rise accordingly.

  Table 2 Universal Subsidy (CCSU) rates

CCSU at Full year cost
50c per hour €17,085,831
€1.00 per hour €34,171,663
€1.50 per hour €51,257,495
€2.00 per hour €68,343,327
€2.50 per hour €85,429,159
€3.00 per hour €102,514,991
€3.50 per hour €119,600,823
€4.00 per hour €136,686,655
€4.50 per hour €153,772,487
€5.00 per hour €170,858,319

Early Childhood Care and Education

 1137. 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 her plans to introduce a second entry point for the ECCE scheme in order to ensure that children that turn two years of age at the beginning of a year and are therefore too young for the September entry point do not have to wait until the following year to avail of the free preschool year. [24435/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Under provisions announced as part of Budget 2018 all children will be eligible for two full programme years (a total of 76 weeks) of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from September 2018 once the child meets the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months at the end of the month before the ECCE intake date.

Current ECCE provision averages at 61 weeks, up from 38 weeks when ECCE was first introduced. However, the three ECCE entry points, which were available for the years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, meant that there were inconsistencies in the number of free preschool weeks; ranging from 61 weeks to 88 weeks depending on the child’s date of birth. This was perceived as unfair by many parents. The new measures being introduced from September 2018 will address these inconsistencies and will ensure a programme that is equitable for all children and also delivers fully on a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that is good for children, families and Early Years providers.

The number of entry points will revert to one at the beginning of the 2018 programme year (September). This single entry point will support quality service provision principally by making it easier for services to provide continuity of staffing through the programme year. The single enrolment will also help streamline the administration process and will make it easier for childcare providers to operate and budget for the programme year. This will also make it easier for parents to secure ECCE places for their children.

While there are no immediate plans to alter the ECCE rules beyond the changes being introduced in September 2018, my Department is currently reviewing the operation of overage exemptions in the scheme.

Child Abuse

 1138. 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 Garda division headquarters that are collaborating with Tusla in relation to dealing with cases of child abuse in view of the recommendations by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24541/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I take it that the Deputy is referring to the development of joint working relationships through Divisional Child Protection Units being established by An Garda Síochána.

  I can confirm that there are currently four Divisional Child Protection Units (DCPUs) operating, one each in Cork, Louth, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin. The development of theseunits is a welcome basis for enhanced Tusla/Garda Síochána engagement.

  I understand that in An Garda Síochána Policing Plan 2018, a target of an additional four DPSUs was agreed, and I am informed that it is anticipated that this target will be achieved in 2018.

Programme for Government

 1139. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the implementation of A Programme for A Partnership Government as it applies to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24571/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department reports to the Department of the Taoiseach on progress made in relation to actions under the remit of my Department and contained in the Programme for a Partnership Government. The Department of the Taoiseach publishes, on its website, progress reports on actions contained in the Programme, covering all Departments. The reports can be accessed at the following website: www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Work_Of_The_Department/Programme_for_Government/Programme_for_Government.html.

I am informed that the Programme for a Partnership Government Annual Report, 2018, to which my Department has provided input, will shortly be published by the Department of the Taoiseach on its website.

Child Protection

 1140. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on amendments made to section 22 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 from a child protection perspective in view of he fact that the separation barrier must only be 1.2 metres in height, the average height of a seven year old according to recent UK research (details supplied); if she was consulted in the drafting of this legislation from a child protection perspective; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24624/18]

 1141. 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 is satisfied with section 22 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 from a child protection perspective in view of the fact that children over seven years of age will continue to be exposed to alcohol in a supermarket setting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24625/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 1140 and 1141 together.

A core principle underpinning child protection policy in Ireland is that all sectors have a responsibility to keep children safe from harm. In accordance with this, Government policy is that child protection concerns should be dealt with in the setting or sector in which they arise.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Health, and, as the Deputy will be aware, this and any proposed legislation is circulated to Cabinet for consultation and approval before publication.

I understand that the Bill is progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas. Section 22, as it currently stands, provides for restrictions on the display and advertisement of alcohol products in mixed trade retail outlets. While the safeguards proposed in the legislation place obligations on retailers, parental responsibility is also an important protective factor.

HSE Funding

 1142. 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 way in which a person (details supplied) who was a resident in a location can access funding in relation to travelling costs incurred from Killimor, Ballinasloe, County Galway to Ballinasloe, County Galway in order form them to access counselling services. [24657/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I thank the Deputy for raising this particular case with me. I am deeply conscious that giving testimony to a Commission of Investigation, or otherwise revisiting difficult personal experiences, can be distressing for many former residents and some may need to access various supports in dealing with these issues.

I am aware that the Health Service Executive (HSE) provides counselling services and can provide transport services/supports in certain circumstances to assist in accessing services provided on its behalf. Relevant HSE contact details are available on my Department's website and also included in the monthly e-zine update on mother and baby home issues. However, the arrangements and eligibility for any such supports are matters for the HSE and the Department of Health.

I will make enquiries with the Department of Health on behalf of the person concerned and revert directly to the Deputy in this regard.

Child and Family Agency Data

 1143. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of cases awaiting allocation to a social worker in each Tusla local office area in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24686/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Information about cases awaiting allocation is published monthly on the Tusla website. The most up to date data available is for March 2018. I can inform the Deputy that there were a total of 4,662 cases awaiting allocation to a social worker at the end of March. Of these, 734 were designated as high priority, 2,968 as medium priority and 960 as low priority.

  An unallocated case relates to a case about a child that is deemed to need a social work assessment, but has not yet been allocated to a social worker. All urgent and emergency cases receive immediate attention by the local duty social work team. The majority of unallocated cases are new referrals. However, they may also include children living with their families who had an allocated social worker, or to a child in care, where there is a social work vacancy at the moment.

  I am informed by Tusla that a case awaiting allocation may be listed as 'active on duty'. Tusla indicate that this may include checking with professionals who see the child regularly, or visiting the child and family at home, getting additional information about the child's situation and, in some instances where a child is in care, organising a Care Plan Review and visiting the child.

  Tusla has provided information on the number of cases awaiting allocation to a social worker per administrative area. This information is included in the following table.

  Cases awaiting allocation to a social worker March 2018 – numbers and priority level

Area Total Cases Awaiting Allocation High Priority Awaiting Allocation Medium Priority Awaiting Allocation Low Priority Awaiting Allocation
Dublin South East/Wicklow 124 15 86 23
Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow 647 176 432 39
Dublin South Central 136 0 49 87
Midlands 345 80 202 63
Dublin North City 384 8 265 111
Dublin North 432 0 240 192
Louth/Meath 273 26 217 30
Cavan/Monaghan 189 5 134 50
Kerry 90 73 16 1
Cork 622 148 440 34
Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary 448 48 313 87
Waterford/Wexford 95 0 50 45
Donegal 372 52 237 83
Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan 37 0 28 9
Mayo 0 0 0 0
Galway/Roscommon 249 41 199 9
Midwest 219 62 60 97
Total Cases 4,662 734 2968 960


  Addressing the number of children who are awaiting the allocation of a social worker is one of my key priorities. I secured funds in Budget 2018 which will allow Tusla to complete the final year of a three year plan to provide for additional social workers. Tusla are also funded to recruit family support workers, social care staff and administrative staff to work alongside social workers in supporting vulnerable children and families.

  I, and my officials, will continue to engage directly with the Tusla Board and Senior Management Team to monitor and review progress in reducing the number of unallocated cases.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

 1144. 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 the assessment under the AIM programme for a child (details supplied) in County Cork has been completed in order that they can access the support they need in September 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24970/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone AIM is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with a disability can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.

AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted. The level of support provided depends both on the needs of the child and on the strengths and needs of the pre-school setting.

Where a child in receipt of targeted AIM support moves pre-school, a new application must be submitted by the new pre-school in collaboration with the child’s parents, as the level and type of support needed depends on the new pre-school's strengths and needs.

AIM is administered by Pobal on behalf of the DCYA. The application process, which involves submission of an Access and Inclusion Profile, is currently open. Both the Pobal AIM team and the Better Start team are currently reviewing AIM applications and are endeavouring to ensure that applications are reviewed and outcomes communicated to applicants prior to commencement in pre-school.

At present, Pobal has not received a new Access and Inclusion Profile for the child in question. It is recommended that an application is submitted as soon as possible. If the applicants require any support with the submission of an AIM application, they should contact onlinesupport@pobal.ie.

Departmental Funding

 1145. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of requests for additional funding, staff resources or expertise that have been made by Tusla since January 2014, in tabular form; the purpose of the requested additional funding, staff resources or expertise; the section to which this request related; the response to each request; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25039/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Deputy will be aware, funding requirements and how resources should be prioritised and allocated across each area of Government spending are generally considered as part of the annual estimates cycle and budgetary process. As part of the process and in accordance with the arrangements in place in my Department for evaluating yearly funding requirements, Tusla is required to submit a detailed business case setting out the basis for its funding requirements. My overriding objective is to realise funding allocations which reflect policy priorities and that sufficient resources are directed towards those areas of greatest impact on children and young people.

  When Tusla was established in 2014, they received an initial allocation of €609 million. On the basis of its annual estimates engagement with the Department, Tusla has received year-on-year increases resulting in an annual allocation for 2018 of €754 million. This represents an overall increase of €145 million or 24% in the period since establishment. Details of the annual funding allocations, including the current and capital resource provisions, are set out in the following table:

- 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
- €m €m €m €m €m
Current 602 631 662 699 740
Capital 7 12 14 14 14
Allocation 609 643 676 713 754


  The extra resources allocated to Tusla has significantly strengthened its base funding, facilitated the agency in meeting identified service pressures and areas of particular risk. In line with statutory requirements under the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla publishes its annual business plan which outlines proposed activities and performance targets for each year which includes proposed allocation of the total resources (both financial and human).

School Completion Programme

 1146. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she has received correspondence from the Department of Education and Skills in relation to concerns regarding the school completion programme; if so, the details of those concerns; and the way in which those concerns will be addressed. [25137/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone While my Department has received no specific correspondence from the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the School Completion Programme I am very conscious that the Programme delivers a valuable service for some of our most vulnerable young people.

With this in mind, the Board of Tusla convened an expert panel to identify and examine a potential revised model of good practice and governance of the School Completion Programme.

The panel comprised an external legal expert, representation of Tusla Educational Welfare Service, Finance, HR and Legal units, representatives from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and Skills and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It was chaired by the Tusla CEO.

The expert panel has concluded its work. When I examined its findings, I decided to carry out some further discussions with a number of other stakeholders. To this end I hosted a very informative School Completion Consultation event in Farmleigh House on January 29th last.

Matters discussed included best practice and governance within the School Completion Programme. There was a range of views expressed as to how both these elements could be improved to ensure that the best service possible is delivered to those who need it.

Following the Farmleigh event I have asked the facilitator for the day to do some additional work on a possible way forward, I have received this input very recently.

I have deliberated carefully over this process for some time because the issues are complex and I want to achieve the best possible results for the young people who use the service and for the professionals who deliver it. I wish to see plans for the development of the SCP advanced in this quarter.

I am very much aware of the positive outcomes that have been achieved within the School Completion Programme.

For example, the proportion of students in DEIS schools who completed the senior cycle has increased from 68% in 2006/2007 to 82% by 2016. This illustrates the benefit of the programme.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department and Tusla Educational Welfare Service are fully committed to the future of the School Completion Programme and will continue to work to ensure that it will deliver the best possible outcomes for young people at risk of early school-leaving.

Cúram agus Oideachas na Luath-Óige

 1147. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín den Aire Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone  cad iad na tacaíochtaí breise Gaeilge a bheidh á gcur ar fáil i mbliana agus cé mhéad airgead a chaithfear ar na tacaíochtaí sin do na suíomhanna luathbhlianta atá ag feidhmiú trí Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht faoin bPolasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta [25148/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Is mór againn go léir sa Roinn seo cúnamh na seirbhísí chúram leanaí sa Ghaeltacht chomh maith leis an ról tábhachtach atá ag Naíonraí ar fud na tíre.

San am a chuaigh thart, ní raibh na tacaíochtaí do sheirbhísí chúram leanaí a fheidhmíonn trí Ghaeilge i gcónaí chomh maith agus ab fhéidir nó chomh agus ba cheart dóibh a bheith, agus glacaim leis sin. Tá sé sin ag athrú. Bhunaigh mé Fóram Luathbhlianta in 2016 chun dul i gcomhairle le páirtithe tábhachtacha leasmhara san earnáil agus chuir mé dhá áit ar fáil d'ionadaithe Gaeilge ar an bhFóram. Bhí siad ina n-ionadaithe do sheirbhísí luathbhlianta a fheidhmíonn sa Ghaeltacht agus tá siad tar éis roinnt ceisteanna a tharraingt anuas liom go díreach.

Go háirithe le sé mhí anuas, tá iarrachtaí móra déanta chun teagmháil níos fearr le seirbhísí chúram leanaí a fheidhmíonn trí Ghaeilge a áirithiú. Dáileadh leabhráin eolais agus póstaeir, a bhaineann lenár bhfóirdheontais nua chúram leanaí, ar sheirbhísí Gaeilge agus anois tá faisnéis oibríochtúil agus cumarsáid laethúil á scaipeadh sa dá theanga go rialta. Na bileoga agus na póstaeir atá le scaipeadh sna seachtainí atá amach romhainn ar chlinicí dochtúirí teaghlaigh, ar leabharlanna agus ar cheantair phoiblí eile, tá siad ullmhaithe sa dá theanga. Tá roinnt cainteoirí Gaeilge earcaithe d'Aonad na Luathbhlianta i mo Roinn agus tá siad ag cabhrú leis an obair seo agus lenár gcomhoibriú leanúnach.

Tá Plean Gnímh 5 Bliana, a eascraíonn ón Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, á fhorbairt ag an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta i gcomhairle leis an Roinn seo agus leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna. Tá gníomhartha faoi leith sa phlean gnímh seo atá le cur i bhfeidhm i réimse na suíomhanna luathbhlianta. Sa phlean, tá an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige freagrach as cur i bhfeidhm roinnt gníomhartha uileghabhálacha chun oideachais trí Ghaeilge a thacú i naíonraí lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Chomh maith leis sin, tá obair ar bun faoi láthair chun a chinntiú go mbeidh rochtain ag Gaeilgeoirí ar ár gcórais IT amach anseo, an Scéim Chúram Leanaí Inacmhainne mar shampla, agus tá soláthróirí chúram leanaí agus tuismitheoirí araon i gceist leis sin.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 1148. 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 estimated cost to roll out the routine delivery of Aistear across the childminding sector including those childminders not registered with Tusla. [25166/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Roll-out of the Aistear curriculum framework is supported through initial education programmes for early years practitioners (including childminders) as well as through mentoring supports. The National Síolta Aistear Initiative provides funding for mentors in City/County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations to offer mentoring and quality improvement supports to early years settings. The primary purpose of the initiative is to increase awareness, understanding and implementation of the Síolta national quality framework and the Aistear curriculum framework. €500,000 was allocated to the Initiative in 2017.

  The cost of extending quality supports to non-registered childminders cannot be readily estimated because of the lack of firm data on the number of childminders. An expert working group on childminding, which submitted a report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in March 2018, estimated that there may be approximately 35,000 childminders, but noted that the figure is an estimate because the very large majority of childminders are outside the statutory regulatory system. Fewer than 120 childminders are currently registered with Tusla.

  The expert working group's report, Pathway to a Quality Support and Assurance System for Childminding,   outlines a vision for the development of the childminding sector in Ireland over the next decade, and sets out short, medium and longer-term recommendations. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is currently considering the recommendations contained in the report, with a view to developing an action plan within the next year for the wider regulation and support of the childminding sector, including supports for the quality of childminding practice.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 1149. 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 if non-contact time payments will be available in 2018; and if so, when services can apply for same. [25167/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am pleased to inform you that the €18m paid initially in 2017 and secured in my vote in Budget 2018 will be paid to childcare providers in June 2018 in the form of the Programme Support Payment (PSP), formerly referred to as the 'non-contact time' payment. This payment is in recognition of the important administrative role that childcare providers play in the delivery of childcare schemes (ECCE, CCS and TEC).

The window for applications for Programme Support Payment opened on Wednesday 6th June and will remain open until Friday 22nd June inclusive. The intention is that payments can then be made to childcare providers in the last week of June. The Programme Support Payment will be apportioned out among childcare providers based on the proportion of registrations in each service.

Frequently asked questions on the Programme Support Payment 2018 are on the Department's website.

Commencement of Legislation

 1150. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the sections and parts of all legislation brought forward by her Department in each of the past four years that have yet to be commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25172/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Children (Amendment) Act 2015, the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015 and the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 have provisions awaiting commencement as follows:

  Children (Amendment) Act 2015

  Sections 6 (as it relates to section 88B), 8,9,10,16,18,19 and 26 of the Children (Amendment) Act 2015 relate to the introduction of a new system of remission in the children detention schools and a technical issue relating to the operation of the Children Court on the issuing of detention orders under the Children Act 2001 and have not been commenced. It is intended that the relevant sections of the Children (Amendment) Act 2015 dealing with remission and the issuing of detention orders will be commenced in 2018.

  Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015

  Section 13 and Schedule 1 Part 1 (insofar as those provisions relate to the amendments specified in items 1, 2, 6 and 9 of that Part of that Schedule) have not yet been commenced. These amendments are technical in nature and will be commenced in line with children's residential centres becoming designated centres under the Health Act 2007.

  Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017

  A number of definitions in section 3 of the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 relate to Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 and will not be commenced until the relevant provisions in that Act are commenced.

Departmental Strategies

 1151. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of measures introduced to increase the national birth rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25200/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Following a clarification, I understand the Deputy to be referring to the Baby Box pilot initiative.

"Baby Boxes" for newborns are to be trialled in a pilot under the National Early Years Strategy that is to be published later this year. Piloting Baby Boxes is just one initiative which will be part of a wide ranging strategy that will address various aspects of the lives of babies and young children under 6 years old and their families including supports to balance working and caring of children, developments in early childhood care and education and health initiatives.

A Baby Box is intended to welcome a new arrival to a family and acknowledge a very significant moment for parents. Key objectives with the Baby Box and linked communications will be to support parents through information on baby development and early learning, advice on breastfeeding and promotion of infant safety. Distribution of a Baby Box is also an early opportunity to link parents in with support services if required. This is consistent with the principle of progressive universalism whereby all families receive something, but where there are additional needs, extra supports are provided.

The concept of Baby Boxes originates in Finland, and has been implemented in a number of other countries including Scotland, and consists of a package of items to assist with the transition to parenthood including safety items, baby clothes and toys and books to support early development. The pilot project will undertake research and consultation with child development experts and with parents to determine items for inclusion in the pack and accompanying information resources. There will be a significant emphasis in the pilot on evaluation of impact and cost-benefit analysis of the measure with a view to determining whether the initiative is suitable for wider roll out.


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