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 Header Item Childcare Services Funding (Continued)
 Header Item Quality and Capacity Building Initiative
 Header Item Adoption Registration

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 972 No. 3

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Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Minister of State for her response. The last day we discussed this issue during Oral Questions the Minister used a phrase indicating it was her absolute priority to get enough moneys for capital provision to increase childcare infrastructure. I support fully that strong commitment. I appeal to the Minister to ensure there is a strand within the capital budget of the childcare provision grants to enable community childcare providers, in areas where there is a huge demand for accommodation for such facilities and no private providers in the catchment area, to continue the excellent work being done in those facilities. I refer to ensuring that no child is denied the opportunity to access a childcare facility.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone That is fine, yes.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith We can meet and discuss it.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I support fully the sentiments that Deputy Brendan Smith is outlining. We have got significant investment. As the Deputy knows so well, we make decisions on what is current and what capital we will need taking into account demographic changes and what the gap might be. All of that analysis is going on and is informed by research but also through conversations with people in the local communities and what is going on there. Deputy Smith has raised this issue a few times as he said. There is a significant need as there is in other areas. I cannot commit at the moment to large scale capital funding in the near future. We hear what Deputy Smith is saying and I am willing to meet with his people to understand the needs more fully.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I propose we take Question No. 6 from Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan. Agreed? Agreed.

Quality and Capacity Building Initiative

 6. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the specific details regarding the €1.2 million innovation fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29220/18]

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I am asking for details of the €1.2 million innovation fund. I apologise for not being here earlier.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The quality and capacity building initiative, QCBI, funded under dormant accounts, aims to take a co-ordinated approach to enhance capacity, knowledge and quality in prevention and early intervention for children, young people and their families. It focuses on those at risk of developing poor outcomes. At the core of the initiative is a desire to foster persistent curiosity among those working to improve the lives of children and young people in Ireland. The QCBI aims to support key groups working with children, young people and families to know what works, how it works and to provide an evidence supported approach to the application of this work. The QCBI innovation fund, with a total budget of €2 million, was developed by my Department to support prevention and early intervention innovations that build on existing data and evidence. Applications were made by organisations working with and for children and young people under one of two strands, SCALE or SEED.

The Deputy refers to the SCALE strand, with a budget of €1.2 million, which supports building on existing programmes, models or approaches which have shown promising outcomes for children and young people. The SEED strand, with a budget of €800,000 supports less proven, new and creative approaches to problems facing children and young people experiencing disadvantage in Ireland. On 4 April 2018 my Department launched the QCBI innovation fund. A total of 239 applications were received under this funding measure, of which the majority were for the SCALE strand. An assessment process followed the application period. This process was conducted by an expert evaluation panel which scored each applicant based on the transparent criteria outlined in the guidance document. Final decisions also had regard to ensuring a spread of funding across diverse organisations and geographical and disciplinary boundaries.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I thank the Minister. I am very much in favour of any focussed intervention working to eradicate disadvantage and to give those who are at a disadvantage that step up that could make life much more of a level playing field. I think of my constituency in Dublin Central and the appalling conditions and circumstances affecting two groups in particular. I refer to older people, who are not within the remit of the Minister, Deputy Zappone, and younger people and children. This is all to be welcomed but we have had this discussion before. Sometimes I feel we do not look at what is there and what is best practice in what is there already. Quite some time ago we had the young people's facilities and services funding, YPFSF, to tackle those areas that were most at risk. I know that was in respect of drugs and drug addiction but I think there was a model there. Sometimes we throw out the baby with the bath water. It is a pity we have not gone back to that model to see if we can build on it. That is my reasoning on this.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I appreciate Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's sentiment and reasons. I understand exactly what she is saying coming from my own background and work over the years in my constituency. On the QCBI, it was an opportunity I saw to support organisations and communities in perhaps a new way and in addition to other investment going on. Part of the design was first of all to provide some moneys for what we call the SEED funding. I believe passionately that there is much creativity going on in communities that have less but want more for their children so that was what the SEED money was for. The SCALE money was for projects that were working and had demonstrated some effective outcomes. It was to increase their capacity and the extent of what it is they were doing. That was part of the underlying philosophy. We need to do that and perhaps we can reach people who have been working at the projects for a long time and are looking to increase what they are doing.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I am also thinking of current schemes I know where there was a shortfall in funding or where there were difficulties for a variety of reasons. I refer to them continuing their work with young people within early childhood care where it is difficult to do so. There was an issue around some of the family resource centres where some of the newer ones were on a different scale of funding. I was also thinking of this question in respect of those, where shortfalls were preventing the work and then another fund is found. That is to do very valuable work and I do not take from that at all but the ones that are there and are in difficulties also need to be supported.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan. It is at times challenging to make decisions about investment given the parameters and contours of the existing schemes. I accept what she is saying and that is why there is an opportunity within the QCBI scheme to do something different and new to complement the investment that is going into communities. Deputy O'Sullivan indicated the family resource centre as an example and we do still need to look at the kind of investment going on, if it is sufficient, how it is awarded, if there are enough people working in a particular family resource centre given geographic and demographic needs etc. That is something that is also on my radar, that I am concerned about and hope to do something about in the near future as well.

Adoption Registration

 8. 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 she plans to broaden her Department's scoping exercise into the illegal adoptions scandal; the progress of the scoping exercise to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37916/18]

Deputy Denise Mitchell: Information on Denise Mitchell Zoom on Denise Mitchell My question is to ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, if she will outline the number of records being examined as part of her Department's scoping exercise into the illegal adoption scandal, the progress of the scoping exercise and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Following the discovery of clear evidence of illegal birth registrations in the St. Patrick's Guild records, I directed that an analysis of adoption records be carried out to establish whether there is sufficient reliable evidence of the practice of illegal registration that can be extracted from the records of adoption agencies.


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