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Written Answers - Child Poverty

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 118.  Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  if she has met with, or plans to meet, the Department of Finance to urge it to ensure that children’s rights are protected in the forthcoming budget and to place ending child poverty as a goal in the budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23959/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Tackling child poverty is a priority for Government and a goal of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007- 2016, coordinated by the Department of Social Protection. Children are more likely to be poor if they are living in lone parent households with low labour market participation and dependant on income support. The departments of Social Protection, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Education and Skills, are working to deliver a range of measures aimed at getting people back to work.

[331]My Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection in a ‘whole of Government approach’ to tackling poverty in the population. The Department is represented on the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare established by the Minister for Social Protection to examine issues to do with the interactions of the tax and welfare systems so that they provide good incentives for parents to take up and remain in work and thereby contribute to the reduction of poverty and child poverty, in particular. As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, improving children’s outcomes is my primary objective. The development of the Children and Young People’s Policy Framework, 2012 -2017, as the overarching framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State, is an important initiative for cross departmental collaboration to secure this objective. Early childhood care and education programmes, in particular those that are aimed at low income families, are priorities to enhance children’s opportunities for social and educational development and to support parents undertaking training and participating in employment. The network of 107 family resource centres that are funded by the Family Support Agency, under the remit of my Department have an important role in this regard. These programmes and the results of pilot projects to enhance children’s development in Tallaght, Northside and Ballymun, which are jointly funded by my Department with a philanthropic organisation, will inform the Government’s plans to develop a new area based approach to child poverty.

My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of the new Child and Family Support Agency.

Under the new performance accounting arrangements, work is already under way at official level on the Estimates process for 2013. I have also met with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin T.D., to discuss issues such as improving the Children’s Detention Centre facilities in Oberstown, Co. Dublin and, as a result, I was delighted to announce recently that additional funding has been approved for this project in 2013-2015. I would expect that other issues will arise in the coming months as the budgetary process advances and that further bi-lateral meetings will take place.

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