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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 807-822
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Youth Employment Initiative
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Expenditure Reviews
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Investigations
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Staff
 Header Item Education Grants
 Header Item Workplace Relations Commission
 Header Item Air Corps
 Header Item Defence Forces Drug Tests
 Header Item Defence Forces Operations
 Header Item State Properties Data
 Header Item Workplace Relations Commission

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 807-822

School Funding

 807. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of schools in County Kerry, both secondary and primary, that have been affected by the cut to the counselling grant. [17728/17]

 808. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the amount which was allocated to schools in County Kerry for counselling in each of the years, 2011 to 2016, inclusive. [17729/17]

 809. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the reason the counselling grant is being cut; and the detail of the replacement payment in this regard. [17730/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 807 to 809, inclusive, together.

  In 1994 the Department of Social Welfare opened a grant scheme to provide counselling supports to children who had experienced bereavement or loss. This grant scheme then passed to the Family Support Agency (FSA) when it was established in 2003 and subsequently to Tusla on establishment in January 2014.

  Up until 2011 applications were invited through an annual public advertisement, however in 2011 due to austerity this scheme was closed and no new applications have been accepted since 2011. Since 2011 the grantees who received funding in 2011 have continued to receive an annual grant equivalent to their 2011 grant. This Counselling Grants Scheme is for a total of €245,900 annually and currently there are only 64 grantees nationwide benefiting from this scheme. With over 4,000 schools in Ireland 64 grantees means that less than 2% of schools are in receipt of support from this scheme currently.

  The Counselling Grants Scheme which was originally established to provide counselling support for children affected by bereavement or loss was affected by austerity cuts in 2010. The need for bereavement and loss counselling still exists in schools right around the country however without a significantly increased budget it is unfair and unethical to continue providing support to a small number of areas (64 grantees) while excluding all other schools from the scheme. Opening up the scheme nationally with a current budget allocation of €245,000 is not an option as this equates to less than €60 per school. Hence the decision was made to cease the scheme in its current format.

  Tusla Educational Welfare Services is very supportive of the provision of appropriate school counselling supports and the option of continuing the scheme with adequate funding to provide the opportunity to all schools and School Completion Programmes nationally. All School Completion Programmes have been requested to identify unmet needs as part of their annual plan for 2017/18 due on 21st  April. Identified gaps in service, including counselling provision for bereavement and loss, will be reviewed on the basis of the information provided in the 2017/18 annual plans.

  I can confirm that one secondary school in County Kerry has been affected by the cut to the counselling grant. The amount allocated to schools in County Kerry for counselling in the years 2011 to 2016 is set out in the following table.

  County Kerry Allocation:

2011 €7,500
2012 €6,600
2013 €5,700
2014 €5,200
2015 €5,200
2016 €5,200

Children in Care

 810. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the average cost per child of caring for children in State care; the cost on an individualised basis to the State of the top ten cases incurring the highest expenditure per annum to provide services for the child; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18061/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The information sought by the Deputy has been requested from the Child and Family Agency and I will respond directly to the Deputy when the information is received.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  I have made inquiries with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency in relation to your Parliamentary Question (18061/17) of 11 April 2017 where you queried the average cost per child of caring for children in State care; the cost on an individualised basis to the State of the top ten cases incurring the highest expenditure per annum to provide services for the child.

  Tusla has advised that they are still in the process of compiling the information you requested. I will forward the information to you as soon as it becomes available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  I refer to your Parliamentary Question (18061/17) of 11 April 2017 where you queried the average cost per child of caring for children in State care; the cost on an individualised basis to the State of the top ten cases incurring the highest expenditure per annum to provide services for the child.

  I can confirm that the following information has now been received from Tusla.

  The most recent figures provided by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, indicate that there were 6,309 children in care at the end of February 2017, which is a decrease of 2% compared with the previous year. Of the children in care, 92% were in foster care nationally; there were 4,127 (65%) children in general foster care, 1,695 (27%) in relative care and 355 (6%) children were in a residential care placement.

  The table sets out Tusla's net expenditure in 2016 as per the latest draft Annual Financial Statement. Tusla's net expenditure in 2016 was €662.522 million and the average number of children in care in 2016 was 6,353.54 resulting in an average cost per child in care of approx. €0.104 million.

 
2016
 
€m
Tusla Net (Non Capital) Expenditure
662.522
Average No of Children in Care
6,353.54
Average Cost per Child in Care
0.104
  
Special Care (Non Capital) Expenditure
11.648
Average No of Children in Special Care
11.62
Average Cost per Child in Special Care
1.003


I can advise that the most costly child care cases are in Special Care. The net expenditure on Special Care Services in 2016 was €11.648 million and the average number of children in Special Care in 2016 was 11.62 resulting in an average cost per child in Special Care of approx. €1.003 million.

Youth Employment Initiative

 811. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the evaluation of the youth employability initiative; when she expects to receive the report of the evaluation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18087/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Last year, I announced details of the €600,000 Youth Employability Initiative which is funded under the Dormant Accounts scheme. Under the Initiative 28 youth projects have received grants to support innovative programmes that target disadvantaged young people who are most at risk of unemployment and who are not in education, employment or training. The programmes aimed to build skills that will enhance their employability and over 1,000 young people aged 15 to 24 years across the country have benefited.

My Department has set up a Forum with the successful projects to share experiences and knowledge and to gather and share the lessons from this initiative to inform future policy in this area. Three events have taken place to date, in this regard, which were well attended and positively evaluated by those in attendance. The Initiative is being evaluated by the Centre for Effective Services and I expect to receive the report of the evaluation by June 2017.

Youth Services Funding

 812. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the proposed review of the youth service grant scheme; the purpose and timetable for this review; if she will ensure consultation and engagement with the youth work sector throughout the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18088/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services by the voluntary youth sector, to young people throughout the country. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people. The voluntary youth sector involves approximately 1,400 paid staff, including youth workers and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services, and communities throughout the country. I was pleased to provide an additional €5.5m in current funding for voluntary youth services in 2017.

These schemes include the Youth Service Grant Scheme under which funding is made available on an annual basis to thirty national and major regional youth organisations amounting to. In 2017, some €10.65m has been allocated under this scheme, a 5% increase over 2016. This funding is intended to ensure the emergence, promotion, growth and development of youth organisations with distinctive philosophies and programmes aimed at the social education of young people.

My Department is now seeking to modernise the scheme in order to enhance its accountability, transparency and outcome measurement. It is also seeking to determine how best to meet the ever evolving needs of young people.

As a first step, my Department hosted a meeting for all thirty organisations on 5th April. The meeting was held to ascertain their views on how the scheme had worked for them over the preceding years and how best the scheme could be reformed. I am advised that the meeting was a great success and that each of the organisations is now fully engaged in, and committed to the review. This will be the first of a number of planned collaborations with youth organisations and services, young people and other stake-holders.

I am committed to having progressed this review before the end of 2017.

Expenditure Reviews

 813. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the actions of her Department with regard to the comprehensive spending review announced in October 2016, including engagement with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; her plans to review specific budget lines as part of this review and if so which; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18089/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has initiated a spending review of expenditure by Government Departments. The focus of the review is the development of an evidence base to inform the prioritisation of current and capital expenditure and it is being undertaken on a targeted basis operating in parallel to the estimates process for 2018. Officials of my Department have been engaging with their counterparts in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform about the key elements of the review process. The area of focus for my Department is the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.

My overall objective in the context of the review will be to realise funding provisions that reflect the expenditure policy priorities of my Department and that sufficient resources will be available for deployment towards those areas of greatest impact on children and young people.

Child and Family Agency Investigations

 814. 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 reason €2.5 million was set aside for third party legal costs for the inquiry into the Grace case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18213/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The information sought by the Deputy has been requested from the Child and Family Agency and I will respond directly to the Deputy when the information is received.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  Since my holding reply to your Parliamentary Question (18213/17) of 11 April 2017, I have received the following information from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

  Tusla has confirmed that it has no information regarding the reason €2.5 million was set aside for third party legal costs for the inquiry into the Grace case. I believe that this matter is more appropriate to the Department of Health.

  I trust that this information is helpful.

Early Childhood Care and Education Staff

 815. 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 her views on restructuring the contract process for early years educators in order to improve retention of the most qualified candidates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18214/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Officials from my Department sought clarification from the Deputy as to which contract process is being referred to in the question. An official from the Deputy's office contacted my Department to advise that they intended to withdraw this question, however, it is understood that this request was not issued in time.

If the Deputy wishes to provide the Department with clarification on this matter, I will be happy to respond accordingly.

Education Grants

 816. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone further to Parliamentary Question No. 311 of 8 March 2017 (details supplied), her plans to allocate an aftercare worker to the remaining 275 persons; if they were assessed as needing an aftercare worker; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18266/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla is currently engaged in the second year of a three year recruitment programme to expand the cohort of social workers, social care workers and business support staff. Tusla is identifying gaps in the aftercare service nationally and has undertaken a major recruitment campaign of social care workers to fill aftercare post vacancies.

Aftercare is a term used to describe the planning and support put in place to meet the needs of a young person who is leaving statutory care at 18 years of age. A child is eligible for an aftercare plan when the child spent at least 12 months in the care of the State between the ages of 13 and (up to) 18 years old. Young people who leave State care can avail of advice, guidance and practical support to assist them make the transition to independent living. Aftercare workers engage with the young person, his or her family, foster carers, social workers, key residential social care workers and other statutory, community and voluntary agencies. Consent and engagement from the young adult is essential in delivering an effective and robust aftercare provision. It is important to recall that as young adults, those leaving care, sometimes, do not avail of the support that Tusla might provide.

The most important requirements for young people leaving care are for continuity of relationships, secure, suitable accommodation and further education, employment or training. There were a total of 1,806 young people aged 18 to 22 years in receipt of aftercare supports from Tusla at the end of 2016. Of this group, 58% (1,040) were in full-time education. In terms of living arrangements, 46% of the 18-22 year olds remained with their carers, 10% returned home, 27% were in independent living arrangements and 5% were in a residential placement.

During Quarter 4, 2016 a total of 138 young adults were discharged from care by reason of reaching 18 years. 92% (127) were eligible for an aftercare service and of these 89% (113) were availing of the service. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that all 113 had an allocated social worker. Tusla has informed me in 2016, a total of 605 young persons in care turned 18 years of age. Of these, 584 young people were eligible for aftercare supports and 524 availed of the aftercare supports which were offered to them.

Workplace Relations Commission

 817. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the adjudications and the findings of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of public bodies in each of the years 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017 that have not been accepted by her Department having consulted with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; the numbers involved and the reasons for this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18734/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I can confirm for the Deputy that there have been no adjudications or findings of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of public bodies in each of the years 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017 that have not been accepted by my Department.

Air Corps

 818. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the number of Air Corps pilots currently grounded for being intoxicated on duty. [17888/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The unique and challenging nature of military service requires that military personnel are free from the presence or influence of any controlled drug or substance. The Defence Forces conduct Compulsory Random Drug Testing (CRDT) of all employees with approximately 10% of Defence Forces personnel tested annually.

The Military Authorities have advised me that there are no Air Corps pilots currently grounded for being intoxicated on duty. However, as the Deputy will be aware, following a recent Compulsory Random Drug Testing in Casement Aerodrome Baldonnel, one member of the Defence Forces tested as "unclear" for a controlled substance.

It is the case that under Defence Force Administrative Procedures, unclear initial test sample results cannot be considered positive until the sample provided has been tested by a designated civilian laboratory and the presence of a controlled drug is revealed. Therefore, the administrative process for the recent "unclear" test remains ongoing and it would not be appropriate to comment further in respect of an individual case.

Defence Forces Drug Tests

 819. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the number of members of the Defence Forces who have failed or missed the mandatory drug testing in the past five years; the position of each person in each branch of the Defence Forces; and the action that was taken in each instance. [17889/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The unique and challenging nature of military service requires that military personnel are free from the presence or influence of any controlled drug or substance. The Defence Forces conduct Compulsory Random Drug Testing (CRDT) of all employees with approximately 10% of Defence Forces personnel tested annually.

  The following table shows the number of Defence Forces personnel, Army, Air Corps and Naval Service that have failed or missed the Defence Forces Compulsory Random Drug Testing in the past five years.

Year Personnel who missed Mandatory Testing Positive Post - Confirmation analysis (Failed)
2012 2 14
2013 2 11
2014 0 5
2015 0 17
2016 0 12
Total 4 59


  The military authorities have advised me that the position of members of the Defence Forces who have failed or missed mandatory drug testing cannot be divulged under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. However, the following actions were undertaken in each instance:-
Action Taken No of Personnel
Discharge By Purchase23
Discharged 6
Being Processed 7
Retained after TDT 4
Retained in Service 2
Retired 1
Service No Longer Required 14
Targeted Drug Testing (TDT) *5
TDT/Retired 1
Total 63


* The objective of Targeted Drug Testing (TDT) is to ensure that an individual, who has tested positive for the presence of a controlled drug in a Compulsory Random Drug Test but who conditionally remains in service as a result of a decision of their Formation Commander, is devoid of the presence and/or influence of any controlled drug or substance. TDT involves the individual agreeing to submit to targeted drugs testing, in addition to the random selection process, for a period of up to 18 months.

Defence Forces Operations

 820. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his views on active service exemption in the Defence Forces (details supplied). [18142/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Active service is defined in Section 5 of the Defence Act 1954 as:

“(1) A person subject to military law shall, for the purposes of this Act, be on active service—
(a) during any period during which an order made under subsection (2) of this section is in force, or

(b) whenever he is attached to or forms part of a force which is engaged in operations against an enemy, or

(c) whenever he is engaged in military operations in a place wholly or mainly occupied by an enemy, and the expression "on active service" when used in this Act in relation to a person subject to military law shall be construed accordingly.
(2) The Government, during a period of emergency, may, whenever they consider the circumstances are of such a nature as to warrant their so doing, by order under this subsection declare the Defence Forces to be on active service.”   

  Furthermore, Section 4 of the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1960 amends the Principal Act and states:

“(1) A member of the Permanent Defence Force who is serving outside the State with an armed International United Nations Force shall, for the purposes of the Principal Act, be deemed, while so serving, to be on active service.”

  In the context of Section 4(1) of the Defence (Amendment)(No. 2) Act 1960, I am advised that a member of the Permanent Defence Force is deemed to be on active service while serving outside the State with a relevant Force. This period commences when the member departs the State to serve with the Force and ends when he returns to the State, having finished serving with the Force. Active Service in relation to service with a United Nations Force is confined to the service “outside the State” during that tour of duty.

  In relation to express exemptions under Section 6(2) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, Section 6 states:

“(1) The relevant statutory provisions apply to prisons and places of detention unless their application is incompatible with safe custody, good order and security.

(2) Subject to section 11, the relevant statutory provisions apply to members of the Defence Forces except when they are—   
(a) on active service within the meaning of section 5 of the Defence Act 1954 or deemed to be on active service within the meaning of section 4(1) of the Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1960,   

(b) engaged in action in the course of operational duties at sea,   

(c) engaged in operations in aid to the civil power, or

(d) engaged in training directly associated with any of the activities specified in paragraph (a) to (c).”

  Exemptions to relevant statutory obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 can only be applied if they come within the scope of Section 6(2) of that Act.

State Properties Data

 821. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the amount spent across his Department over the past five years on maintaining vacant or unused State owned properties, including security arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18724/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The total expenditure from 2012 to date on maintaining vacant or unused State owned properties including security arrangements amounted to approximately €1.8m. This includes expenditure relating to Castlebar Barracks, Co. Mayo and Mullingar Barracks, Co. Westmeath which are still owned by the Minister. Costs relating to the ongoing maintenance etc of Mullingar are in the region of €90,000 per annum. There are no ongoing costs in relation to the maintenance of Castlebar Barracks.

  The total also takes into account expenditure relating to the following Military Barracks that have since been disposed of:   

-   Cavan Military Barracks

  - Rockhill Barracks, Letterkenny, Donegal

  - Clonmel Barracks Co Tipperary

  - Lifford Barracks, Co Donegal

  - Magee Barracks, Kildare

  In addition to the barracks outlined above, expenditure relating to other vacant or unused properties including a number of Reserve Defence Force properties is also included. The majority of these properties have since been disposed of and no are longer under the administration or ownership of the Minister for Defence.

Workplace Relations Commission

 822. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the adjudications and the findings of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of public bodies in each of the years 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017 that have not been accepted by his Department having consulted with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; the numbers involved and the reasons for this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18735/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme it is open to the Representative Associations to submit claims to the Official side in relation to matters falling within the C&A scheme. Generally claims relate to pay and conditions, award of allowances etc. These claims are subject to negotiations and where agreement is not reached it is open to both sides to seek the assistance of an adjudicator to settle the matter. There have been a number of Adjudications in 2015 and 2016 and in no case were the findings of the Adjudicator not accepted.

In relation to the data sought concerning the findings of the Workplace Relations Commission, the Department, with the assistance of the military authorities, is compiling the data sought by the Deputy and same will be forwarded when available.


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