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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 91 - 110
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries
 Header Item Firearms Licences
 Header Item Prison Staff
 Header Item Liquor Licensing Laws
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Adoption Legislation
 Header Item Child Care Law Reporting Project
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Funding
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Reports
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Children and Family Services
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Youth Services Provision
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Child Protection Services
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Departmental Functions

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 858 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 91 - 110

Magdalen Laundries

 91. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she has knowledge of the accounts audit for the €250k given to the Irish Women Survivors Support Network on the night of the Magdalene apology; the percentage of this funding that is dedicated to Magdalene survivors; if this funding has been renewed in the most recent budget; and if the Government are continuing to fund, and at what level, the Irish Women Survivor’s Support Network for the current year.  [44377/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald On 19th February 2013, the Government agreed on the payment of €250,000 to the Irish Women Survivors Support Network (IWSSN) to enable them to continue to provide support, advice and assistance to women survivors of Irish Institutions including women who were in the Magdalen Laundries and who are now residing in the UK.

  To facilitate good governance, the IWSSN registered as a not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee and an agreement was entered into to route the funding through Voluntary Action Camden, a long standing registered Charity which supports, develops and promotes voluntary and community groups.

  The once off payment of €250,000 which was made in December 2013 was subject to a number of conditions including the requirement to submit financial statements of the IWSSN with the report of an independent examiner every year that the fund was in existence.

  The Report and Financial Statements of the IWSSN for year ended 31st March 2014 were submitted to my Department in June 2014.

  No further funding has been allocated to the IWSSN by my Department.

Firearms Licences

 92. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding SHAM consultations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44543/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald In light of public safety concerns highlighted by An Garda Síochána and difficulties in the interpretation of the legislation expressed by members of the judiciary, a joint Department of Justice and Equality/An Garda Síochána Working Group was established by my Department to review firearms licensing. The Report of this Working Group was published on 13 November and submissions on the Report have been sought from stakeholders and the public by 15 December. I have now agreed to a request to extend the deadline for receipt of submissions to 31 January, 2105. The consultation process gives individuals and groups an opportunity to contribute to the development of firearms policy and legislation and will enable consideration to be given to the future direction of such legislation.

  The Garda Commissioner has made a decision, with Ministerial consent, to issue new Garda Guidelines on the Firearms Acts which exclude the former Annex F of the guidelines. The interpretation of the previous Annex F had caused serious difficulties and confusion in regard to applications for firearm certificates for .22 calibre handguns and has resulted in over 30 Judicial Review applications to date. The Commissioner made this decision to issue new Guidelines, without Annex F, on foot of consultations with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Counsel for the State regarding Judicial Review applications on the licensing of .22 calibre handguns. There have been no changes to either primary or secondary legislation as a result of amending these guidelines. A more general revision of the Garda Guidelines will be carried out in light of the outcomes of the public consultation on the review of firearms licensing.

  The amendment of the Guidelines has no implications in relation to the consultation process which I undertook to have in relation to the Review. I will not be making any final decisions until I have had a chance to consider all submissions which have been made.

Prison Staff

 93. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the change in the work practices in the Prison Service (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44549/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am aware of the change in work practices, referred to by the Deputy, which is the elimination of grace periods.

 This proposed change is one of the reform measures set out in the collective agreement for the Irish Prison Sector under the Haddington Road Agreement.

  Staff in the Irish Prison Service were not obliged to work the additional hours required of the majority of public servants under the Haddington Road Agreement on the basis that the grace periods would be eliminated – up to 50 minutes per day which staff are paid for but not required to work.

  The elimination of such grace periods as agreed under the HRA will allow the Irish Prison Service to provide increased rehabilitative measures such as additional out of cell time and structured activities to prisoners.

  I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the Service is committed to utilising the mechanisms of the Haddington Road Agreement in relation to the introduction of this reform measure.

Liquor Licensing Laws

 94. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will support the restaurant association in an amendment to the current legislation on licensing trading on Good Friday; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44553/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Government Legislation Programme published on 17 September indicates that publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill is expected in mid-2015. The Bill will update the law relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises, including restaurants, and registered clubs, and provide an opportunity for reviewing the statutory restrictions relating to times when alcohol may be sold and consumed in such premises. The Bill will repeal the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011 and the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008 and replace them with streamlined and updated provisions. The statutory provisions restricting the sale of alcohol on Good Friday, which have historical origins, will be examined in that context.

Ministerial Transport

 95. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the ministerial transport costs for the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, for each Minister and Minister of State in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44894/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will be aware, the Government introduced a number of changes for the provision of Office Holder transport during 2011. One of the consequences of that decision was that the transport arrangements in place for Ministers of State became applicable to Government Ministers, subject to very limited exceptions on security grounds. In addition, it was decided that former Presidents and Taoisigh would only be supplied with official transport for important State occasions. The revised transport arrangements came into operation for Government Ministers on 1st May 2011 and for former Office Holders on 16th June 2011.

  Office Holder cars are currently placed at the disposal of the President, An Taoiseach, An Tánaiste, the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

  The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. In that context, I am informed by the Garda authorities that records in relation to Office Holder transport have not been maintained in respect of individual Office Holders. However, the Garda authorities have indicated that total expenditure on the provision of Office Holder transport in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 was as outlined in the following table:

YearExpenditure
2010€7.503 million
2011€4.595 million
2012€2.201 million
2013€2.160 million


  With regard to the table, some of the costs arising in 2011 included costs associated with the service prior to and after the new transport arrangements had been fully introduced.

  No transport costs for Ministers of State have been paid by my Department in the period March 2011 to the end of 2013. Details in relation to transport costs for Ministers of State for the period 2010 to March 2011 are not readily to hand. I will contact the Deputy directly when this information is available.

Adoption Legislation

 96. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason for the delay in the publication of the adoption and tracing legislation; and his proposals in relation to same. [43990/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly  I am taking a positive and pro-active approach to introduce measures to address the provision of a robust legal and operational services in the realm of information and tracing for those affected by adoption.

  In this context I have instigated the following policy and operational developments:

  1) Development of an Adoption (Information and Tracing) General Scheme and Heads of Bill which will provide for statutory access to adoption records and birth information. This work is well under way. The Heads will provide access to records for birth parents and adopted persons in so far as is possible in line with legal advices. I am proposing as progressive an approach as is possible within the significant legal and operational complexities which arise in giving effect to this objective.

  The proposed legislation will provide for, inter alia,

  - Placing the National Adoption Contact Preference Register on a statutory basis

  - Arranging for the management of Adoption Records

  - Setting out the information to be provided and circumstances in which it can be provided both for retrospective and prospective adoptions

  - Providing for Information and Tracing Supports Services.

  It is my intention to have the General Scheme and Heads of Bill finalised on this basis as soon as possible and submitted for the consideration of Government, in advance of referral to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. This will be the subject of consultation with all relevant Government Departments in advance.

  2) In parallel, I have requested officials to commence an examination of operational arrangements for the preservation of, and access to, adoption records both to secure existing service provision and to make ready for any proposed new legislation.

Child Care Law Reporting Project

 97. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his view on trends emerging from the two interim reports of the Child Care Law Reporting Project, particularly where it states that single parents, parents with a disability, and parents of non-Irish background are over-represented in family law cases. [43991/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP) is an independent project established under Section 3 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2007, in accordance with the Regulations made under that Act, with the support of the One Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The aims and objectives of the project are to:

- Provide information to the public on child care proceedings in the courts;

- Conduct research on these proceedings in order to promote debate and inform policy-makers;

- Make recommendations to address any short-comings in the child care system identified by the research;

- Assist in the implementation of these recommendations;

- Promote confidence in the child care system.

The project will provide a measure of the effectiveness of current systems and policies in the area of child protection and that of court administration. Ultimately it will assist the Department in gaining a greater depth of knowledge and understanding of child care cases and it will increase the evidence base on which future policy formulation is based.

The project pursues its aims and objectives by attending the courts where child care cases are heard in order to report on those proceedings while protecting the anonymity of the children and their families. The CCLRP publishes reports of child care cases for the public and all relevant stake-holders, collects and analyses data from the proceedings, publishes reports on the nature and outcomes of the child care proceedings and seeks to promote a public debate on the issues raised through seminars and conferences.

Child care cases, heard mainly in the District Courts, involve applications by the Child and Family Agency for orders to protect children, including supervision orders, emergency and interim care orders and full care orders. Under supervision orders, families receive help and supervision from the Agency; under care orders, the child is placed on either an interim or more permanent basis in care. The cases are heard in camera in order to protect the privacy of the children and their families. There are rarely written judgments in the District Court.

In the second interim report, published last month, it was noted that the project team record the main reason given in support of each application. Often more than one problem is present e.g. the parent may suffer from a disability and abuse alcohol or drugs or both, and the child may suffer both neglect and abuse but only one main reason is recorded. The highest single category, as recorded by the reporters, is parental disability (15%). While physical, mental and intellectual disabilities are not distinguished, the reporting team has observed that most of these parents had an intellectual disability or mental health difficulty and sometimes both.

The second interim report also found that in over 70% of cases the parent, normally the mother, was parenting alone, either because she was single, following the breakdown of a relationship, or because the child’s other parent was dead, in prison or missing. Drug or alcohol abuse or neglect were much more common reasons for seeking a care order in cases involving single parents than cases involving married parents.

While the majority of the respondents in child care cases are Irish (70.4% in the second interim report), this is substantially less than the proportion of Irish-born people in the population as a whole. 7% of the respondents are European, the vast majority of whom come from Eastern Europe. The next largest category is “mixed”, meaning that at least one parent is not Irish. This category includes two or more non-Irish parents from different backgrounds as well as Irish and non-Irish parents. Almost 4% of the respondents are recorded as Irish Travellers.

Overall, one in four child protection cases involve families where at least one parent is a member of an ethnic minority. However the author notes that this represents a very heterogeneous group and the issues that bring them to the child care courts vary widely and so there is no single approach that could reduce this proportion. This raises issues of the need for early involvement of appropriately trained family support workers with immigrant families and community leaders.

The fact that such a high proportion of at-risk children come from ethnic minority communities highlights the need for cultural sensitivity, focused integration policies and cultural mediation services. The Child and Family Agency has introduced a training component for staff on cultural competence so that they may better understand the needs and diversity of the families concerned.

The Child and Family Agency has advised that it brings cases to court solely on the basis of the evidence it has regarding the welfare and protection of children. All of the variations in child care applications and outcomes – regional, ethnic and in family status – that have been identified throughout the course of the project to date require further research to determine the reasons for the variations and to see how more targeted interventions can, where possible, ensure that the level of intervention is the most appropriate.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 98. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will include the Westbank Orphanage in Greystones, County Wicklow, in the inquiry into the mother and baby homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44416/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As the Deputy will be aware, I am consulting with a number of key stakeholders, including the Bethany Survivor's Campaign and Survivors of Protestant Children's Institutions whom I have met in recent days, in order to update the parties on the emerging issues and to seek their further views.

Requests to include a range of institutions, and concerns related to particular practices are being examined in our current deliberations. While I have not finalised my considerations on the scope of the Investigation, it is clear at this stage that at least some of the issues being raised in public debate are beyond the intended central focus on Mother and Baby Homes as debated in this House.

A key challenge in deciding on the scope of the investigation is to ensure that a realistic approach is taken so that the Commission is in a position to investigate these matters in a workable and effective manner. As recommended by the Inter-Departmental Report, our approach should have regard to the facts established through recent inquiries into related institutions, and the general experience gained in conducting similar investigations into matters of public importance. The House is only too well aware of previous Tribunals and Commissions that generated a great deal of expense and due to their protracted nature took much longer to arrive at conclusions than most centrally concerned or than this House would have wished.

Following the finalisation of the terms of reference it is my intention to bring these matters to Government as soon as possible thereafter.

Child and Family Agency Funding

 99. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 322 of 30 September 2014 regarding the provision of funding from the Child and Family Agency to a centre (details supplied) in County Dublin, if he will provide an update on this matter and indicate following the October meeting of the centre and the agency whether funding will provided for the centre in 2015. [44071/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Balgaddy Child and Family Centre has sought to be included within the Family Resource Centre Programme operated by the Child and Family Agency. The Programme is closed at present to new applications.

  The Centre has been in receipt of philanthropic funding and this funding arrangement is due to cease from 2015 onwards.

  I understand that discussions have been held between the Agency and the Centre, most recently last month. I am currently awaiting the outcome of these discussions.

Child and Family Agency Reports

 100. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if Tusla publishes on a monthly basis all the information relating to children's services that used to be published in Health Service Executive monthly performance reports prior to the establishment of the agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44449/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Agency publishes a range of reports on performance indicators on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Among these indicators is information relating to referral and assessment processes, and numbers of substantiated cases which have led to a child's name being placed on the Child Protection Notification System and having a Child Protection Plan. The Agency also provides an annual Review of Adequacy Report under Section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991. Statistics, including the monthly and quarterly performance activity reports, on the children services are available on the Agency's website, www.tusla.ie.

Child Poverty

 101. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his response to the recent report by UNICEF in respect of child poverty here; when the data contained in the report was raised and collated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44493/14]

 103. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the steps he proposes to take in response to the recently published UNICEF report on child poverty here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44495/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 103 together.

  The recent UNICEF report raises the important issue of child poverty. The collection and collation of data for this report is a matter specific to the research design adopted by UNICEF with specific regard to the response to this multi-faceted issue. I would like to outline the following:

  Support for families who require income support to meet basic needs is provided through the social welfare system which is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Social Protection. A range of income supports are available to parents, both those who are unemployed and those on low incomes. The Department of Social Protection also has lead responsibility for the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion.

  Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 - 2020, which was published and launched by Government in 2014, provides the overarching framework for the development and implementation of policy and services for children and young people. As provided for in Better Outcomes, the Department of Social Protection which is the lead department on child poverty has the lead responsibility for a specific commitment to a national child-specific social target to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level.

  My Department is working on a number of initiatives which are relevant in addressing issues related to children poverty. It is, for example, leading the implementation of the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme (2013-2016). The ABC Programme is being co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and will have a total funding allocation of up to €29.7 million. The ABC Programme draws on best international practice to break the cycle of child poverty where it is most deeply entrenched, and improve the outcomes for children and young people and existing services.

  In terms of other provision, my Department is spending €260 million annually on childcare support programmes which provide childcare to 100,000 children. A number of these programmes are targeted at those on lowest incomes. The CCS programme provides subvention support to parents on low incomes and parents in receipt of certain social welfare payments, whose children are enrolled in community childcare facilities. Additionally, the 3 Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes - the Childcare Education and Training Programme, the Community Employment Childcare programme and the Afterschool Childcare Programme - provide childcare supports to eligible parents returning to work or to education.

  My Department also provides funding for targeted support for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people through three schemes. The three programmes are Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. In addition, national and regional youth work organisations are supported under my Department's Youth Service Grant Scheme. In 2014, current funding of €49.78 million has been provided to my Department for these schemes. I am pleased to advise that Budget 2015 has confirmed that funding of €49.78m will again be provided to my Department in 2015 to support the provision of youth services. There will be no reduction in the overall allocation for youth services in 2015 which is a key priority for youth organisations.

Children and Family Services

 102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the extent to which the various children support services remain readily available to meet the needs of vulnerable children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44494/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly There is a wide range of child support services available through both the statutory and non-statutory sectors. These include services provided through Government Departments, other state agencies and an extensive network of non governmental organisations. In the area of child welfare and protection services we now have, with the establishment this year of the Child and Family Agency, the necessary structure to ensure the provision of a more responsive and integrated service to children and young people at risk. The Agency, in discharging its functions, is placing a strong emphasis on prevention, early intervention, family support, therapeutic and care interventions, all of which are key to the provision of integrated, multi-disciplinary services for vulnerable children and families.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services services are currently being provided by arrangement with the Health Service Executive.

The Child and Family Agency and the HSE have in place both a Memorandum of Understanding and a Joint Protocol to underpin the provision of these services for children. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Joint Protocol is to set out arrangements for collaborative working by the Agencies in order to ensure the provision of efficient, effective and proportionate services for children and families across the full range of health and social care services. The arrangements also specify a pathway and associated responsibilities for children and families where their care needs cross the Child and Family Agency and the HSE.

Both agreements are subject to regular monitoring and review to ensure that they are working effectively in the best interests of children and families. Additionally, the Agency and the HSE are working to finalise a service level agreement to underpin the provision of psychology services by the HSE. This will determine the quantum of service needed to meet the Agency’s requirements in this area, and will operate as an interim arrangement pending the Agency providing the service directly.

Separately, my Department chairs an Inter Departmental Group on the implementation of Children First. This group works to ensure that all bodies working with children, including those with particular vulnerabilities, are aware of their responsibilities with regard to the welfare and protection of children and are provided with the necessary training and guidance to support them in this work.

My Department has a range of systems in place to ensure it is informed of risk to children and the measures put in place to minimise these risks. Monthly, quarterly and annual reports are received from the Child and Family Agency in respect of its functions, including detailed reporting on key performance indicators. Officials frequently meet with the Agency to review areas in need of improvement. There are also protocols in place for the Agency to inform the Minister and the Department of specific issues where risk is identified and to ensure that a robust management response is put in place.

  Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 101.

Child Poverty

 104. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the scale and level of disadvantaged children throughout the country in both urban and rural settings with a view to identification of the extent to which various intervention or support requirements may be identified and offered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44497/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Responsibility for addressing disadvantage is a matter for all Departments and Ministers and indeed for wider society. The provision of intervention and supports to target the particular needs of children will be dependent on the type of disadvantage, be it social, financial, educational, health etc. Responsibility for the identification and provision of those interventions will fall to my Ministerial colleagues as appropriate to the type of disadvantage.

  Notwithstanding this, I am fully convinced of the need for a whole-of-government approach in addressing such issues. Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (2014-2020) takes such an approach in addressing disadvantage for children, emphasising an integrated and evidence informed approach to working across government, on horizontal and vertical levels, which transfers to all sectors and settings working with children and young people.

  Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is the first overarching national policy framework which comprehends the age ranges of children and young people 0 – 24 years. It puts the everyday lives of children and young people at its centre and requires Government Departments and State agencies to work together in an integrated way along with non-government organisations to achieve better outcomes for children and young people.

  Towards achieving this aim, we are working to address disadvantage, which can damage a child or young person’s capacity to learn, grow, and have a healthy life and productive relationships. For the children and young people that need additional support, we need to identify them and intervene early. This requires good quality universal systems open to all, like our schools and primary healthcare services, backed up by additional targeted services and income supports to give ‘at risk’ or vulnerable children and young people the extra help they need to keep up with their peers and lift more children out of poverty, aiming to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.

  While my Department has overall responsibility for the framework, individual Departments will continue to take lead roles on matters within their remit; for example, the Department of Education and Skills have lead responsibility for issues concerning educational disadvantage, the Department of Social Protection has lead responsibility for addressing child poverty. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has lead responsibility for a range of funding schemes which target disadvantage across the areas of services and supports for children and young people.

  Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures recognises that disadvantage impacts on children and young people in both rural and urban areas. This can result in difficulties in accessing services, as well as a risk of isolation and lack of economic opportunity.

Youth Services Provision

 105. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the degree to which his Department continues to liaise with various voluntary charitable and statutory agencies currently involved in the provision of youth services; if all requirements have been identified in so far as possible; his projections in this regard for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44498/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people and involve, approximately 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. In 2014, funding of €49.78m has been provided to my Department for these schemes.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that Budget 2015 has confirmed that funding of €49.78m will again be provided to my Department in 2015 to support the provision of youth services. There will be no reduction in the overall allocation for youth services in 2015 which was a key priority for youth organisations. My Department has commenced work on the detailed allocations for youth services and projects in 2015. Every effort will be made to notify youth organisations and projects of their 2015 allocations in respect of their youth services as soon as possible.

Ongoing engagement and dialogue with the youth sector organisations and with young people themselves are priorities in the formulation of policies and provision of services to support young people’s development and learning.

The youth sector is engaged in the development, by my Department, of the new National Youth Strategy 2014- 2020. The strategy will be a universal strategy for all young people, aged 10 to 24 years, while having particular regard to those young people who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing the poorest outcomes and, therefore, in most need of support. In consultation with the National Youth York Advisory Committee, my Department has set up a National Youth Strategy Task Group to oversee the development of the new strategy. The Task Group, which meets regularly, is chaired by the Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland and comprises representatives from the youth sector, Government departments, Education and Training Boards, the Centre for Effective Services and the business community. It is anticipated that the new National Youth Strategy will be completed by my Department for the end of 2014.

I, and officials of my Department have met, and continue to meet regularly, with youth organisations and groups. I met with the representatives of some 30 national and major regional youth organisations over 2 days in September. My aim is to see how we can work together to bring about the best possible outcomes for young people, having regard to resources available to us and to ensure that the programmes and services being provided are relevant and responsive to young people’s needs.

Child Protection

 106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the way his Department may positively intervene to assist children and teenagers who may find themselves attracted to a life of crime by virtue of their environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44499/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I see the role of my Department as working in an integrated way to develop strong linkages between early prevention and intervention, developing closer working relationships between the care system and the justice system with the main focus of keeping children out of the criminal justice system as much as possible.

For the relatively small number of young people whose behaviour has unfortunately led to their involvement in the youth justice system and ultimately to detention, we must provide a safe and secure environment and support their early re-integration into the community. My Department oversees the operation of the Children Detention Schools which provide appropriate educational, training and other programmes which promote the reintegration of the young people back into society and promote general life skills.

My Department also provides in the region of €53m to support the provision of quality youth provision throughout the country. This funding supports the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund and the Local Drugs Task Force Projects.

In addition, I wish to advise that on 3 February 2014, the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in conjunction with the Minister for Justice and Equality launched the Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018. The overall mission statement of the Action Plan is to create a safer society by working in partnership to reduce youth offending through appropriate interventions and linkages to services. It is focused on continuing the downward trends in high volume crime and reduce the necessity for detention. The Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 forms part of the Children and Young People's Policy Framework which was launched by my Department in April 2014.

The Deputy should note that community based interventions to divert young people from offending behaviour, such as the Garda Youth Diversion Projects and the Garda Diversion Programme, which aim to engage young people in a process of learning and development that enables them to make positive lifestyle choices are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality

Child Protection Services

 107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the degree to which children requiring a safe haven outside the home may expect to have their requirements met on an ongoing basis; the number of places available for such children at present; the extent to which further enhancement is required in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44500/14]

 110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the extent to which various categories of children at risk continue to be identified and monitored by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44503/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 110 together.

Children who require care placements come within the statutory remit of the Child and Family Agency. The Agency operates a number of services including family support, foster care and residential care services. These services are primarily demand led so there is no fixed capacity in terms of the places available to care for children. As of 31 August 2014 there were 6,489 children in care and some 93% of these children are in family based foster care placements. The guidelines in Children First set out a clear pathway for concerned persons to inform the Agency of care and welfare issues involving a child and their family. This reporting role is a general responsibility and a report can be made by the parents, guardians, schools, Gardaí or any person with information on a child needing care. An initial assessment is carried out in each case that is reported to determine if the child requires the services of the Agency and, where appropriate, engage with the parents and wider family and close family friends. The Agency also provides an aftercare service for those in care on their 18th birthday and there are a number of supports for those leaving care, particularly where they are in full time education. My Department is working with the Agency to progress and develop the range and quality of service provision with a view to improving consistency of provision across the country of child protection and welfare services, including aftercare.

The Agency publishes a range of reports on performance indicators on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis which is used to monitor activity, for example data on referrals and assessment processes, at national level, broken down by administrative regions and local areas. An annual review of the data provides additional information on age, social deprivation and ethnicity. The annual service planning process is informed by the monitoring and performance data from each administrative area.

Youth Services Funding

 108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the extent to which his Department continues to offer support to Kildare Youth Services; the degree to which this matches requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44501/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. In 2014, funding of €49.78m has been provided to my Department for these schemes.

In 2014, funding of €488,200 has been allocated for the projects and services under Kildare Youth Services. My Department provides funding to Kildare Youth Services under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme in respect of six local youth projects in Athy, Naas, Leixlip, Newbridge, the Curragh and Kildare town and a Youth Information Centre in Naas. In addition, Kildare Youth Hub, Kildare Town has received approval for a capital grant of €50,000 towards the cost of developing a new youth café facility. Officials of my Department have recently met Kildare Youth Services and have visited their office in Naas to hear about their work and their proposals for the provision of services in County Kildare.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that Budget 2015 has confirmed that funding of €49.78m will again be provided to my Department in 2015 to support the provision of youth services. There will be no reduction in the overall allocation for youth services in 2015 which was a key priority for youth organisations. My Department has commenced work on the detailed allocations for youth services and projects in 2015. Every effort will be made to notify youth organisations and projects, including Kildare Youth Services, of their 2015 allocations in respect of their youth services as soon as possible.

Departmental Functions

 109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the extent to which he is satisfied regarding the adequacy of resources available to his Department to deal with issues of physical and mental well-being of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44502/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly "Better Outcomes Brighter Futures", the national policy framework for children and young people 2014-2020 represents a whole of government approach to improve the lives of children and young people. The framework gives appropriate priority to the importance of physical and mental well-being with a single national outcome focussed on "Active and Healthy". The key Departmental Sponsor for this Outcome area is the Department of Health. Under this outcome, 15 key commitments are listed, each with a lead Department responsible for implementation. These commitments aim to reduce the risk factors and improve the resilience factors associated with the health and well-being of children and young people. My Department works closely with the Department of Health, the HSE and other relevant departments and agencies to progress these issues. My Department has both sponsored studies in this area and collated relevant evidence from other studies to learn more about the issues most likely to impact on the health and well-being of children.

  The responsibility for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) lies with the HSE and policy for these is outlined in the Department of Health’s, “A Vision for Change” Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy.

  The Child and Family Agency has a key role including in relation to supporting some of the most vulnerable children and young people in State care. My Department has introduced reforms aimed at enhancing management and service provision for therapeutic services for children in detention and residential care. These include the establishment of the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service, a new integrated clinical team known as the ACTS team, that will liaise closely with CAMHS and other relevant services.

  One of the main challenges in the area of physical well being is childhood obesity. In the latter part of 2013, in my role then as the Minister of Health, I jointly launched with my predecessor, Minister Fitzgerald, a three year media and social media campaign aimed at giving practical tips to parents on managing their children’s weight.

  As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I have responsibility for Play and Recreation Policy which have been set out in the policy documents, ‘READY, STEADY, PLAY! A National Play Policy’ and the ‘Teenspace, National Recreation Policy for Young People’. The Local Authority Play and Recreation Network (LAPRN) was established to introduce a more coordinated and interagency approach to achieving the main goals of the play and recreation policies at both national and local level. Targeted grants are provided to Local Authorities by my Department to encourage participation across the Local Authority network. Other initiatives being developed at local community level are designed to encourage awareness of the importance of play and recreation throughout the whole of life from early childhood to adulthood and through to later life.

  Additionally, my Department administers funding schemes and programmes to support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people which involves approximately, 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. I am pleased that Budget 2015 has confirmed that funding of €49.78m will again be provided to my Department in 2015 to support the provision of youth services. Many of the youth services operate with young people’s physical and mental well-being as the central pillar of their services and programmes. The Youth Work Sector has particular expertise in working with young people and provides non-formal and informal learning opportunities to support their physical and mental well-being. The National Youth Health Programme is a partnership operated by the National Youth Council of Ireland with the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department and the Health Promotion Unit of the HSE respectively. The Programme aims to provide a broad-based, flexible health promotion/education support and training service including making healthy choices in relation to alcohol, to youth organisations and to all those working with young people in the non-formal education setting.

  Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 107.


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