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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 517-536
 Header Item Employment Rights
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Youth Services Funding
 Header Item Child Safety
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Staff Data
 Header Item Child Safety
 Header Item Departmental Functions
 Header Item Youth Justice Strategy
 Header Item Counselling Services Provision
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Town and Village Renewal Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Data
 Header Item Seniors Alert Scheme
 Header Item Dormant Accounts Fund

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 517-536

Employment Rights

 517. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to introduce a sectoral employment order for workers in the early years preschool sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43901/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Government is not an employer of workers in the early years pre-school sector it is very constrained in what it can do in regard to pay and conditions. It does, however, accept that it is a major funder of the childcare sector and, as such, has a role to play. It is important to note that the most important stakeholders in putting agreed pay structures in place in any sector are recognised employers and employee groups.

My Department is aware that trade unions are active in seeking to achieve a critical mass of representation on the employee side and welcomes this move. My Department would also be supportive of any move on the employer side to establish a recognised representative body. In terms of improving pay and conditions I have suggested to the sector that they could apply to the Labour Court for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO), asking the Court to make a recommendation in relation to pay for the whole early years' sector. Under a SEO process, organisations substantially representative of employers and employees come together to agree a way forward and submissions are sought from key stakeholders.

It should be highlighted that my Department would have no role in relation to the SEO process, however, as a significant funder, and with policy responsibility for quality, my Department would be well placed to make a submission to the Court once it publishes its notice in relation to the matter of the application for a SEO for the sector.

Youth Services Funding

 518. Deputy Colm Brophy Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the way in which she plans to spend the additional €1.5 million allocated to the youth services sector in budget 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43954/17]

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 to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

As the Deputy is aware, Budget 2018 has provided an additional €1.5 million in current funding to my Department to support the provision of youth services. This additional funding will be used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people. Following the Budget 2018 announcement, my Department will soon commence a process with national organisations and local services to identify service development needs for 2018 and to agree the 2018 allocations. Every effort will be made to complete this process as soon as possible..

Departmental Correspondence

 519. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the position regarding correspondence that was submitted to her Department in July 2017 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43958/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department is working with Pobal and the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO) to establish the current situation and options available to us regarding this matter. In addition to this, the Department is currently engaged in identifying further issues arising from this process, including those relating to the charges placed on the property and associated documentation submitted as of July 2017.

We undertake to work through these issues as quickly as possible. Further, the Department will contact the named service directly to establish a process for future action as soon as is possible.

Youth Services

 520. 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 the extent to which her Department continues to directly liaise with youth organisations with particular reference to the identification of issues of concern such as the provision of financial support in circumstances in which it is appropriate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43998/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department maintains close contact with the national youth organisations and I and officials from my Department meet formally with 30 national youth organisations twice a year to share knowledge and information on developments in the youth sector. My Department will also shortly commence a process with national youth organisations and local services to identify service development needs for 2018. Youth officers of the Education and Training Boards provide an important support role to my Department in the co-ordination and administration of youth services at a local level and keep my Department informed of issues which may require a follow up meeting between officials and youth organisations. Officials from my Department also meet with youth organisations on an individual basis from time to time when the need arises.

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 involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

In 2017, €57.4 million has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services. Budget 2017 and 2018 provided a total of €7 million extra funding for youth services. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services.

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. In 2017, some €10.65 million 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.

The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme supports youth work activities at a local level. These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through the local Education and Training Boards. The scheme is open to some 1,600 youth groups and clubs, with an estimated 89,000 club members around the country. The scheme, which is open to new entrants, is advertised locally and applications for funding are invited by the Education and Training Boards from local groups in their respective areas. Each year, some 600 local youth clubs benefit from the scheme. In 2017, I have provided an additional 10% in funding to the scheme, bringing the total allocation to €1.1715.

In addition, I was pleased to approve the establishment of the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme in 2017 which will provide €6.35 million nationally. The primary focus of this scheme will be to assist volunteer led clubs and groups that work with young people in communities throughout the country. The scheme will allow for the purchase of equipment for sport, arts, adventure and other much needed items..

Youth Services Funding

 521. 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 the amount of funding made available to various youth and youth support organisations in the course of 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43999/17]

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 to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

In 2017, €57.4 million has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services. Budget 2017 and 2018 provided a total of €7 million extra funding for youth services. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services.

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. 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, Rounds 1 and 2, Local Drugs Task Force Projects and certain other programmes including the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme and Youth Information Centres.

The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme supports youth work activities at a local level. These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through the local Education and Training Boards. Each year, in the region of 1700 local youth clubs are eligible to apply under the scheme.

In addition to the above, I was pleased to approve the establishment of the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme in 2017. The primary focus of this scheme will be to assist volunteer led clubs and groups that work with young people in communities throughout the country. The scheme will allow for the purchase of equipment for sport, arts, adventure and other much needed items. Some €6.35 million has been made available nationally under this scheme..

Child Safety

 522. 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 the number of complaints in respect of children at risk received in the relevant sections of her Department in the past 12 months; the degree to which all have been investigated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44000/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department does not collate the number of communications received by the Department in relation to children who may be at risk. Such communications received are referred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency which has responsibility for investigative processes.

Departmental Staff

 523. 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 the extent to which adequate staff remain available to the various sections of her Department with a view to ensuring the smooth and effective operation of all the services for which she is responsible; if particular issues have arisen or are likely to arise in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44001/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am satisfied the Department is adequately resourced to carry out its functions and services. Since my appointment as Minister, the staffing complement has grown from 181 to 236 people, with a further cohort currently being recruited which will bring the total staffing numbers to around 280 people before end 2018. The increase in staffing numbers reflects the continuing growth in the responsibilities of my Department, whose allocation will grow to €1.38 billion in 2018 following increases in the two Budgets since I took office.

As additional streams of work emerge in my Department, it is inevitable that, from time to time, temporary staffing shortfalls may occur. These are remedied at the earliest opportunity. I am satisfied that the workload required from my Department is adequately resourced and will continue to be. My Department's objectives continue to be delivered as planned and as scheduled and I anticipate that it will continue to do so..

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

 524. 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 the extent to which sufficient and appropriately qualified staff remain available to the various offices under her aegis in view of the various responsibilities for which she is responsible and ever increasing demands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44002/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Deputy is aware, there are four agencies within my remit and I wish to advise as follows:

- The Office of the Ombudsman for Children is independent in its function and reports to the Oireachtas on matters within its remit, as required by the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. I have forwarded the question to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and asked that they might correspond with you directly in this matter.

- To ensure the provision of a high quality service and to meet statutory requirements Tusla depends on having a sufficient number and appropriately trained workforce in place at national, regional and local levels. Tusla Human Resources, through its Workforce and Recruitment work stream, addresses service delivery needs based on the job orders it receives.

  Tusla employs approximately 3,615 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff and the vast majority of these are focused on responding to the needs of children and families at risk. I wish to assure the Deputy that I am informed by Tusla that with the current available staff, all urgent and emergency cases are dealt with immediately.

  More than 70% of Tusla's workforce are Social Work and Social Care staff. Social Work staff must be professionally registered by CORU who independently verify qualifications and professional standing. Tusla is engaging with key stakeholders to examine issues related to the supply and demand for these key grades and in addition is working to deploy multidisciplinary teams to overcome any difficulties in securing qualified staff while ensuring a high quality service is delivered in line with statutory requirements.

  I am also informed by Tusla that it is its policy to ensure that all staff are trained in child protection and Children First guidelines and staff attend a broad range of child protection training. Tusla's Continual Professional Development (CPD) Strategy also aims to ensure that Tusla staff maintain up-to-date knowledge and skills as a foundation for professional practice. The Strategy supports all Tusla staff, regardless of profession or grade, to engage in CPD activities in order to maintain their standards of proficiency and as a safeguard for service users and the general public, as required for professional registration.

  With regard to the Adoption Authority of Ireland, my Department works with the agency to sanction the recruitment of extra staff required by the Authority to meet its statutory requirements.

  With regard to Oberstown Children Detention Campus, my Department works closely with Oberstown and I am informed by them that there are sufficient and appropriately qualified staff for their areas of responsibility on campus at this time.

  As additional streams of work emerge in the agencies, it is inevitable that, from time to time, temporary staffing shortfalls may occur. These are remedied at the earliest opportunity.

Child Safety

 525. 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 the extent to which support services are being made available to children who may be at risk as a result of being undocumented non-nationals; the extent to which further measures are planned to protect such children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44003/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Child Care Act, 1991 applies to all children resident in the State irrespective of their immigration status. Under the Child Care Act, 1991 and the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla has a duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care or protection. The Agency is obliged to provide care for these children for as long as their welfare requires it.

Children First National Guidance (2011) gives advice for notifying Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, of situations where abuse is suspected. A range of professionals including teachers, nurses, early years educators, Gardaí and other health professionals, who see children regularly, are in a good position to identify children at risk. Where someone has reasonable grounds for suspecting a child is being, or has been, abused, they are expected to immediately contact Tusla.

The Children First Act, 2015 places a statutory obligation on key professionals (mandated persons) to report concerns of harm above a defined threshold to Tusla without delay. These provisions will be commenced on 11 December, this year.

If a child is taken into care, their needs are given priority. A social worker is assigned to a child placed in State care and has a duty to prepare and regularly review the care plan for the child. Intrinsic to this process is ensuring that the wishes of the child are listened to, and if appropriate, Tusla may assist them in establishing residency.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are placed in care and have their needs assessed, and are allocated a social worker.

As of the end of July, Tusla had received 20 young people under the Calais Special Project. The young people were taken into the care of Tusla, and are receiving dedicated support and services, including medical and educational supports. Before travelling to Ireland, these young people were screened by the Gardaí and Department of Justice officials, and their residency status was approved.

Children who, with their parents, live in Direct Provision, are provided with welfare supports as required. Tusla have seconded an experienced social worker to the Department of Justice and Equality to liaise directly between Direct Provision and Tusla services.

Departmental Functions

 526. 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 the extent to which the investigative structures within her Department or bodies under her aegis are deemed adequate to meet current and future requirements as evaluated by reference to the time taken to respond to individual cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44004/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is required under the Child Care Act 1991 to investigate allegations of abuse, including historical abuse, and to engage with An Garda Síochána where appropriate.

Tusla provides a comprehensive rage of services and supports for vulnerable children and families. I have secured an additional €40 million for Tusla in the Budget, bringing the Agency's allocation to over €753 million in 2018. This additional funding will target areas of identified need. It will allow Tusla to recruit over 300 staff, reducing the number of unallocated cases and improving response times and performance.

I am committed to the protection and welfare of children and believe that there is a moral duty on Government and on society to work together to protect children and to ensure their safety. Within the limits of the budgetary process, I have sought to maximise the resources available for this important work and the effectiveness of their use.

Youth Justice Strategy

 527. 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 the extent to which support services exist to rehabilitate and educate or upskill first-time juvenile offenders with specific reference to the need to ensure that such first-time offenders do not become subject to the influence of recidivists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44005/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Children Act 2001, as amended, provides the statutory basis for dealing with children who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The key principle of the Children Act 2001 is that detention of a child should only be imposed as a last resort. When children come into contact with the criminal justice system there is an emphasis on the promotion of community based options in the first instance. The Irish Youth Justice Service oversees a significant investment in community based programmes to divert young people from further involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour. In 2017, approximately €14 million was allocated by the Department of Justice and Equality to the Irish Youth Justice Service to administer Garda Youth Diversion Projects and a number of other youth diversion community-based projects. These projects also benefit from support under the European Social Fund.

My Department provides funding to the Irish Youth Justice Service for services relating to the Oberstown Children Detention Campus (Oberstown) and the Bail Supervision Scheme which has recently been established on a pilot basis.

The Bail Supervision Scheme provides more therapeutic supports in the community for children who are subject to bail conditions. The service provides a ‘wraparound’ service to the young person and their family with a prescribed reporting system back to the courts through the appropriate statutory bodies. Probation Service, An Garda Síochána and Oberstown. The scheme offers greater options to the courts in the knowledge that closer monitoring will take place through interaction with the young people, their families and communities.

If a child is remanded or sentenced to a period of detention in Oberstown, a range of rehabilitative supports are offered to every child as part of an overall programme, which focuses on the child’s individual needs and provides the framework for each child’s individual journey through detention. The focus is on developing supportive relationships with the main emphasis placed on education and rehabilitation.

The wide range of rehabilitation, education and support services provided and supported by the Irish Youth Justice Service are detailed in the Tackling Youth Crime: Youth Justice Action Plan 2014 – 2018, and a progress report covering the period 2014 to 2015 has been published and is available on my Department's website. A progress report covering the period of 2016 is currently being prepared..

Counselling Services Provision

 528. 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 the extent to which she envisages improved counselling services for children at risk and their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44006/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Under the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is required to support and promote the development, welfare and protection of children. Tusla provides funding to voluntary organisations offering a range of counselling and support services to children and families including:

  - Marriage and relationship counselling,

  - Child counselling,

  - Rainbows Peer Support Programme for children, and

  - Bereavement counselling and support on the death of a family member.

  Counselling services funded by Tusla are specifically targeted at children who have been affected by parental separation or who have suffered family bereavement. Tusla's marriage and relationship counselling funding is instrumental in assisting parents to deal with difficulties they experience in their personal relationships. The funding provided aims to make counselling available to those who could not otherwise afford it.

  Tusla is also proposing to put in place a range of additional Therapy Services for children and young people.

The Assessment, Consultation & Therapy Service (ACTS) is a national specialised clinical service which has been developed in order to provide multidisciplinary consultation, assessment and focused interventions to young people who have high risk behaviours associated with complex clinical needs. ACTS also supports other professionals in their ongoing work with young people and their families.

  Tusla works closely with other care providers including the HSE, in respect of access to child and adolescent mental health services.

  The protection and welfare of children and young people is of great concern to me, and I will continue to support Tusla in assisting children and young people at risk.

  In this context, I announced a significant increase in the funding allocation to Tusla for next year. Tusla will have available to it some €753 million in funding, representing an increase of over €40 million over 2017. The precise level of funding to be provided to counselling, therapy and support services will be considered by Tusla in developing its Business Plan for 2018.

Children in Care

 529. 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 the number of children in residential or foster care; the extent to which adequate resources remain available to meet the demand in both circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44007/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone At the end of July 2017, the latest data available, there were 6,297 children living in care in Ireland. Of these, 5,801 children were living in foster care, and 368 in residential care. The remaining children are in other placements, such as supported lodging, specialist care facilities or long term hospital placements.

The optimum provision of services for the care and protection of children in Ireland is of the utmost importance to me and central to the work of my Department. Of course, this presents challenges and requires adequate funding and resources.

It is with this in mind, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have secured an additional €40.6 million in funding for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, bringing the Agency's allocation to over €753 in 2018.

This will enable Tusla to target areas of identified need. In relation to foster care, there will be increased recruitment of social workers to support and recruit foster carers. A dedicated telephone service will be established providing social work support out of hours to all foster carers, for the first time.

The additional funding will also allow us to further develop our residential care services, providing safe and homely accommodation for some of our most vulnerable children and young people.

Children in Care

 530. 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 the extent to which the welfare of children in State care or institutions continues to be monitored effectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44008/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, and if necessary, to receive a child into the care of the State.

The placement of children in care is governed by Regulations. These provide, inter alia, for the welfare of the child, the care practices, care records, accommodation and safety precautions. Children, depending on their identified needs, may be placed by their social worker in foster care either with relatives or general foster carers, in residential care, high support or special care or other placement types. The majority of children are placed in long term stable placements and currently over 92% of children are placed in foster care. A key part of the social worker role is to ensure the quality and safety of the child's placement, and to meet with the child on a one to one basis on all visits. There are safeguards surrounding each child care placement, whether foster or residential care and all placements are supervised by a professionally qualified social worker.

All foster care services and statutory residential centres are subject to inspection by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) and private and voluntary residential centres are inspected by Tusla against National Standards. These inspection reports of children's residential centres, fostering services and child protection services are also reviewed and analysed by my officials. The overview of these reports provides me with a level of assurance on the overall capacity of Tusla to identify and provide services to families and children who are at risk.

Within its national office, Tusla, has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team. This team produces monthly, quarterly and annual reports in respect of Tusla's functions, including detailed reporting on child safety and protection services. Tusla also provides me with information on children in care, their placement type, care status and allocation of social workers. Within my Department there is a Unit which scrutinises these reports and briefs me and senior officials on issues of note. The reports also provide statistical evidence of improvements to child welfare and protection services and highlights challenges and areas where further improvement is required, such as the recruitment of additional social workers.

Officials from my Department meet Tusla management on a regular basis to review the level of service provision, including areas in need of improvement. I myself meet on a regular basis with the CEO and Chair of Tusla. Contact is maintained with non-governmental bodies on issues within the sector, including, for example, the Children's Rights Alliance, EPIC and the Irish Foster Care Association.

The Deputy should also be aware that children in care have access to independent advocacy supports, such as the organisation Empowering People in Care (EPIC). Children in care also have access to the complaints mechanism in Tulsa, and may make complaints, or be assisted to make complaints, about their care to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children..

Youth Services

 531. 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 the extent to which her Department continues to support County Kildare youth services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44009/17]

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 to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

In 2017, €57.4 million has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services. Budget 2017 and 2018 provided a total of €7 million extra funding for youth services. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services.

In 2017, an amount of €525,425 was allocated for the projects and services under Kildare Youth Services, which operates under Youth Work Ireland. 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, I was pleased to approve the establishment of the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme in 2017. The primary focus of this scheme will be to assist volunteer led clubs and groups that work with young people in communities throughout the country. The scheme will allow for the purchase of equipment for sport, arts, adventure and other much needed items. Some €6.35 million has been made available nationally, of which more than €230,000 has been allocated in respect of clubs and groups operating in Kildare and Wicklow..

Departmental Funding

 532. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the amount of funding per annum a charity (details supplied) received for 2016 or the nearest available year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43661/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring My Department provides funding to the organisation in question through the Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO). This scheme provides multi-annual funding to national organisations towards the core costs associated with the provision of their services. The current three year scheme commenced on 1 July 2016. Following a competitive application process, the organisation in question was allocated a total of €269,960 over the three years to 30 June 2019.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

 533. Deputy Pat Casey Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the criteria, selection processes and scoring mechanisms used to decide awards under the 2017 town and village grants by application, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43402/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The 2017 Town and Village Renewal Scheme was launched on 13 April last, with a focus on improving the economic development of our rural towns and villages. The scheme forms an important part of the Action Plan for Rural Development.

  When the scheme was launched, Local Authorities were given full particulars of how the scheme would operate, including the scheme outline and detailed information regarding the qualifying conditions, assessment criteria and scoring system that would be applied.

  Detailed as follows is the Scoring framework for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2017 which formed part of the Scheme Outline and Application Form which were circulated to all Local Authorities in April 2017.

  A minimum threshold of 65% was required for each criterion and the mark required to meet this benchmark is also outlined as follows for each criterion.

Selection Criteria Detailed Outline Max Score Quality Threshold
Economic Development Potential Does the project include activities that have clear positive economic impacts?

Does the project complement or leverage other Government programmes and objectives?

Does the proposal add value to current initiatives?

For projects exceeding €100,000 does the project demonstrate a strong economic case?
30 19.5
Strategic nature of the proposal and coherence with local area plans/healthcheck What evidence is there that the project proposal is in line with the aims and objectives of local area plans?

Did the application seek input from local community or business interests?
20 13
Demonstration of need and potential Does the proposal include a clear statement of identified needs?

Does the proposed plan of action address the needs identified?

Does the proposal show engagement with the local community or business interests in the formulation of the project proposal?
20 13
Realistic nature of the proposal? Are a clear set of defined outputs and outcomes included in the proposal?

Has a delivery mechanism been identified?

Is there a process in place to measure outcomes and impact of the proposal over time?
15 9.75
Value for Money Extent to which projects are clear and include targets, realistic costing and timescales. 

Clear rationale for costs requested.

The cost effectiveness of the proposal with regard to the level, range and quality of outputs and outcomes to be delivered.
15 9.75
Total   100 65

Departmental Bodies Data

 534. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the State bodies or boards that fall under the remit of his Department; and the number of members of each State body or board who are not qualified within the field in which the board or body has oversight. [43420/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring Four state bodies fall under the remit of my Department, Pobal, Irish Water Safety, the Western Development Commission and the Charities Regulatory Authority.

  The Public Appointments Service (PAS), established under statute in 2004, provides an independent shared service for recruitment, assessment and selection of suitable candidates to organisations across the civil and public service. On 30 September 2014, the Government agreed that the PAS should also be given responsibility for putting in place an open, accessible, rigorous and transparent system to support Ministers in making appointments to State boards. The dedicated website, www.stateboards.ie, is the channel through which the PAS advertises vacancies on State boards. It is also the means through which accomplished, experienced and qualified people, including people who might not previously have been identified as available for appointment, can apply to be considered for particular vacancies and can register to have suitable vacancies notified to them.

  A rigorous process of selection was applied to all applicants for our boards and the final selection ensured a full complement of experience, qualifications and expertise. I am satisfied that the Board members are qualified within the field in which the board or body has oversight.  

State Body Number of Board Members
Pobal 17
Irish Water Safety 13
Western Development Commission 11
Charities Regulatory Authority 14

Seniors Alert Scheme

 535. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring his plans to introduce a home alarm monitoring system for the elderly in partnership with a service provider as part of budget 2018. [43595/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring My Department is responsible for the Seniors Alerts Scheme, which encourages support for vulnerable older people in our community through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable them to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. Funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase by a registered community-based organisation of equipment, i.e. a personal alarm and/or pendant, which is provided to the elderly person participating, while the associated monitoring and service charges are the responsibility of the individual participant.

The scheme is administered on my Department's behalf by Pobal. Following a recent review of the scheme, a new iteration of the Seniors Alert Scheme will shortly be launched.

Dormant Accounts Fund

 536. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the status of the statutory review of the disbursement scheme for the Dormant Accounts Fund due in December 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43622/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The legislation governing the Dormant Accounts Fund provides for the preparation of a three-year Disbursement Scheme which sets out the guiding principles for disbursements from the Fund to support programmes and projects targeting specified categories of disadvantaged people.

The legislation also provides that a review should be carried out within 3 years of the first scheme taking effect, and at least once in every three years thereafter. The first Disbursement Scheme covered the period 2013 to 2016.

The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, which had responsibility for the Dormant Accounts schemes at the time, initiated a review of the 2013-2016 Disbursement Scheme in November 2016, with a view to preparing a new three-year scheme. In reviewing the Scheme, the Department consulted with relevant Government Departments and asked them to examine the previous scheme and to submit any proposals for amendments to the new scheme.

A new three-year Disbursement Scheme, covering the period 2017-2019 inclusive, was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 8 May 2017.

Notwithstanding the work carried out in the preparation of the new scheme, I can confirm that my Department intends to examine all aspects of the administration of the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursement Scheme as part of its forthcoming work programme, including a further review of the effectiveness of the 2013-2016 Scheme.


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