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Written Answers - Child Care Services

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 101.  Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the number of children who were identified by the Health Service Executive as having parents or guardians who were financially unable to cope during each of the past five years; the type of supports that will be provided by the Child and Family Support Agency for families in this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23971/12]

 120.  Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  if she will confirm that no child has been taken into care due to a parent's financial inability to cope during each of the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23972/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 120 together.

Under the Child Care Act 1991 children should, in the first instance, be supported to remain with their families. Children should only be taken into care where the HSE has identified abuse or the risk of abuse, including neglect that cannot be prevented or resolved without the child being received into care.

The various factors which can result in parental inability to cope include: physical or mental health problems, disability, drug or alcohol problems, and in some cases financial difficulties. However, a parental inability to cope financially is on its own not a reason for a child to come into care and the HSE has confirmed that no child has been taken into State care in the past ten years solely on the basis of lack of finance. Family support services work with parents where there are difficulties with budget management to support them to provide a stable family situation for their children.

My officials regularly meet with officials from the Department of Social Protection. At a meeting held in September of last year, this specific matter was discussed as part of a broader agenda. There was agreement on the need to avoid any situation occurring where a child is admitted into care solely due to financial reasons. Should such a situation arise, my officials will work with the Department of Social Protection and the HSE to ensure that children are only received into care on the basis of risk to their safety and welfare that cannot be alleviated by financial support alone.


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