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Zappone, Katherine

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

Was asked: the steps she is taking to address the shortages in ECCE places that exist in certain parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

My Department has conducted an analysis of the ECCE scheme capacity and is satisfied there will be no shortfall in ECCE places for the 2017-18 programme year. It should be noted the peak number of...More Button

From September 2018, the ECCE programme will revert to one single entry point, in September, in a given ECCE programme year with eligible children entitled to two full years of ECCE provision. F...More Button

As with the previous expansion of the ECCE programme, my Department is working closely with all city and county child care committees to monitor a range of scheme related issues, including capaci...More Button

I appreciate the Deputy's question and the way my Department has answered it. The issue of capacity is consistently monitored, particularly by the city and county child care committees. I am not ...More Button

The Deputy's other question was that if we are concerned about capacity, do we have plans for capital investment in 2018. The answer is that we do.More Button

One of the measures I introduced in 2016 and 2017 was to support capital development, specifically for capacity issues. My Department provided €8.4 million for its 2017 early years capital funding...More Button

Was asked: if she is satisfied that each child in need of support under the access and inclusion model is able to access this support in a timely and appropriate manner; and if she will make a statement on th...More Button

Care Orders

Was asked: the number of applications for full care orders that have been made in respect of children already on voluntary care orders in the past three years; her plans to review the maximum amount of time a...More Button

I thank the Deputy for the explanation of her question. The information requested by the Deputy is not available at present. Tusla’s existing information systems do not directly track movements o...More Button

I am committed to helping Tusla improve its central data systems, both for the protection and welfare of our children and to ensure that child protection policy in Ireland is firmly based on high...More Button

The system has been piloted in Tusla’s mid-west region and the intention is to have it in all areas between now and the end of June 2018. As promised under the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures ...More Button

Care Orders (Continued)

The first issue is the pathway from voluntary care to court-ordered care and that Tusla should be aware of the trends in how many children may move from one to the other. That is an excellent poin...More Button

This moves into the second area of the Deputy's concerns relating to what happens in the context of voluntary care and decisions that are made to move beyond that. Those are very valid concerns. ...More Button

Combatting Cyberbullying

Was asked: her role in protecting children from online bullying, abuse and grooming; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Protecting children from online abuse, bullying and grooming requires a whole-of-Government approach. The devastating effects are becoming increasingly obvious in our homes, schools and communities.More Button

While my Department does not have the lead responsibility in this area, it plays an important role in a wider range of actions across a number of Departments.More Button

Last week, I met the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, to discuss the cross-Governmen...More Button

I will commence all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015 on 11 December next. The ongoing role of the statutory Children First interdepartmental implementation group, which is cha...More Button

The national youth health programme is a partnership between the HSE, the National Youth Council of Ireland and my Department. It aims to provide a broad-based, flexible health promotion-educati...More Button

I would be willing to accept that invitation and I am certain that my colleagues would also. As the Deputy identified, we need a whole-of-Government approach. The Ministers whose Departments are ...More Button

Combating online child grooming is particularly relevant to the Department of Justice and Equality, and is addressed as part of a wide-ranging package of measures aimed at the reform of Ireland’s...More Button

Was asked: her role in protecting children from online bullying, abuse and grooming; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I refer the Deputy to the reply that I provided to the same question that she asked as a Priority Question today.More Button

Combatting Cyberbullying (Continued)

Regarding the Deputy's last request, that has been heard and I will take it back to the appropriate Department.More Button

Regarding the Deputy's first issue concerning the recommendation for the establishment of an office of digital commissioner, we discussed that at the recent meeting with the Minister, Deputy Flan...More Button

School Completion Programme

Was asked: if she has considered the proposed changes in the administration of the school completion programme; if she has engaged in formal consultations with the parties involved; and if she will make a sta...More Button

I believe the school completion programme is critical to ensuring that children who are most at risk of early school leaving are supported to stay in education. However, I believe that it needs to...More Button

In particular, I want to ensure that services under the programme are compliant with financial and governance rules and that we have a good model of service delivery throughout the country. I al...More Button

I am deeply committed to an effective reform of this programme, not only in relation to the governance and employment issues, but also the programmes, supports and processes that are in place to ...More Button

In my view the reform will incorporate universal supports as well as targeted supports to ensure that those most in need are reached by the programme. It is critical that we have a whole school ...More Button

There are two aspects to the Deputy's question. The first relates specifically to the resources allocated under budget 2018 for the programme I have identified, that reform of the programme is a p...More Button

The trade unions have been in touch with my officials and they will be meeting them. We are engaged in a process where there have been reviews and reports. Those have been submitted to me and I...More Button

I am absolutely committed to making decisions on the reform as soon as possible. I am deeply committed to its reform. I have considerable understanding and experience of dealing with people who w...More Button

Was asked: the funding allocated for the school completion programme; if the funding is sufficient to meet demand; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The total budget allocated to the School Completion Programme (SCP) in 2017 is €24.72m and my Department is currently working with the Educational Welfare Service of Tusla in relation to 2018 alloc...More Button

The School Completion Programme is a core element of the Educational Welfare Service provided by Tusla and I believe it is a crucial service for children, parents and schools. The SCP is a targe...More Button

The School Completion Programme is critical to ensuring that children who are most at risk of early school leaving are supported to stay in education. The further development of the School Comple...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the schools taking part in the school completion programme have been asked to cut the number of students down to 10% of the current number of studen...More Button

Schools participating in the School Completion Programme have not been asked to cut the numbers of students they are working with down to 10% of current numbers. More Button

Schools have however been asked to ensure that the School Completion Programme funding is focused on achieving its primary purpose, that is, to target those children most at risk of early school ...More Button

This year Tusla has asked School Completion Programme projects to identify the children most at risk and to provide the range of interventions these children require. In some instances this may r...More Button

To assist schools and projects with this new focus on high-risk children, a working group of SCP Coordinators and Tusla Educational Welfare staff developed a revised Annual School Retention Plan....More Button

The School Completion Programme is a core element of the Educational Welfare Service provided by Tusla and I believe it is a crucial service for children, parents and schools. I am committed to ...More Button

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes (Continued)

We have made good progress in implementing the access and inclusion model, AIM, which helps children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free preschool education. Its goal is to empower...More Button

An application for support at levels four, six or seven is generally responded to by an early years specialist within two to three days. This is followed by an observation visit, which generally...More Button

The Deputy has identified a particular case. We are speaking specifically about the AIM programme, which has had huge take-up. As I identified in my initial response, there has been just one appe...More Button

The good questions raised by the Deputy do not take away from the facts I have identified with regard to the timeframes that apply under the various AIM levels. I will bring back to my officials t...More Button

Foster Care Provision

Was asked: to address the fact that numerous evaluations by HIQA have found that many foster care services have consistent and serious failings; and to set out the steps she is taking to ensure these failings...More Button

I welcome HIQA's important work on foster care services and the report prepared by the Oireachtas joint committee. I will respond to the joint committee by the end of the year. In Ireland, 92% of...More Button

This year's inspections show delays in completing formal assessments of relative carers and the lack of regular reviews of all foster carers. The need for Garda vetting for children over the age...More Button

Foster Care Provision (Continued)

The clear themes coming through are the need for better oversight, the recruitment of staff, the replenishment and broadening of foster care panels, improved supports and the supervision of foster ...More Button

HIQA sends its reports directly to me and my Department. To respond to the Deputy's last query and issue, as she says, there was an inspection of foster care services in Cork in February and a fol...More Button

On Garda vetting, I accept that it is an issue, although not across the board. As the Deputy is aware, one of the things I have been doing in the context of the wider approach taken by Tusla is ...More Button

I am aware of the joint committee's recommendations. There are some details in the report, including those relating to the cost of Tusla's provision of private foster care, on which I hope to obta...More Button

The Deputy raised the issue of expanding the role of HIQA to include enforcement and regulation. My Department wrote to HIQA following its presentation to the joint committee about the issues ra...More Button

Family Resource Centres

Was asked: her plans to fast-track a review of the service provision of family resource centres by Tusla to provide centres with only two members of staff an opportunity to secure additional funding and work ...More Button

Family resource centres play a really important role in communities across the country. I am personally convinced by the work they do in identifying and providing the services most needed by their...More Button

On the operation of family resource centres, the Deputy will be aware that they are independent organisations which are managed by voluntary boards of management which represent the local communi...More Button

I am placing strong emphasis on the development of capacity within the family resource centre programme next year. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, allocates funding to 109 family resource ce...More Button

I am very pleased to engage with the Deputy on this issue. I understand and I am aware of the concerns about some family resource centres throughout the country. I have an absolute commitment to ...More Button

Was asked: her plans to review the funding structure of existing family resource centres as part of the Tusla business plan for 2018 in order to address previous funding reductions and differences in the fund...More Button

I am placing a strong emphasis on family support services next year, and the development of capacity within the Family Resource Centre Programme.

  Tusla, the Child and Family A...More Button

  Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 50.More Button

Family Resource Centres (Continued)

As regards Quarryvale family resource centre and as the Deputy is aware, the funding of €86,478 covers the salaries of a full-time co-ordinator, a part-time development worker and a part-time admin...More Button

Early Years Strategy Publication

Was asked: when she will publish the national early years strategy; when it will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the national policy framework for children and young people, contains a commitment to publish Ireland's first-ever national early years strategy. The ten-year cr...More Button

Drafting of the strategy is being advanced by my Department, which is drawing on substantial national and international research evidence and being informed by experts' views, including those of ...More Button

A draft strategy has been prepared and a process of redrafting is about to commence alongside further consultation with Departments and key stakeholders.More Button

Efforts to progress the remaining work and finalise the strategy for publication have recently intensified with the assignment of an additional resource by my Department. When it is published as...More Button

I thank the Deputy. The first area she identified relates to whether we are being strategic. We do not yet have a strategy. As regards why it has been delayed, the commitment to publish the stra...More Button

I assure the Deputy that an implementation plan will be part of the strategy. We will draw on the learning we have gained from the experience and cross-Departmental work that has been carried out,...More Button

Youth Services Funding

Was asked: the reason funding for an organisation (details supplied) in County Laois is lower than the national average.More Button

Funding to staff-led youth services has generally been targeted at areas of disadvantage and not allocated in proportion to the youth population of a county. That has had an impact on Laois's fund...More Button

Laois youth services received €86,803 in funding in 2017 under the special projects for youth scheme. Under the scheme, grant aid is made available in respect of out-of-school projects for disad...More Button

My Department also funds 31 national and major regional voluntary youth organisations. Foróige is funded through the scheme and provides a service to support 11 youth clubs in County Laois . Ot...More Button

Was asked: the level of funding for youth affairs in County Meath; and the way this compares with other counties.More Button

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....More Button

Youth Services Funding (Continued)

In 2017 I allocated €57.4 million in current funding to support the provision of youth services. This was an increase of €5.5 million on the allocation for 2016. I have enhanced it by a further €...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. Earlier this year I approved funding of €800,000 for the establishment of n...More Button

I am aware, not just from the Deputy's question but also from my work, of the significant level of disadvantage in County Laois. As the Deputy says, there has been a certain amount of investment, ...More Button

Exactly.More Button

I will check. I understand the points made by the Deputy.More Button

There has been a new mapping exercise and a profiling that gives us additional information, acknowledging the level of disadvantage in County Laois. The Deputy has pointed to the fact that applica...More Button

  Question No. 45 taken after Question No. 46.More Button

Foster Care Supports

Was asked: her plans to review the funding and allowances paid to foster parents as part of Tusla's increased funding in 2018 in order to take account of the role of foster parents and the additional duties a...More Button

I have no plans to change the rate of the foster care allowance at this time. However, my Department has begun an extensive review of the Child Care Act 1991 and will examine foster care arrangeme...More Button

I acknowledge foster carers as the backbone of child care services. Foster care is the preferred option in Ireland for children who cannot live with their parents or guardians. Approximately 92...More Button

The foster care allowance is currently €325 per week per child under 12 years of age and €352 per week per child aged 12 years and over. This payment was protected during recent economic hardshi...More Button

Foster carers also receive a number of targeted supports to ensure they continue to function as a recognised and valued part of the alternative care system. Key elements of this support include ...More Button

Pre-assessment and ongoing training are compulsory for foster carers in order to equip them with the skills and knowledge to provide high quality care. Recognising the specific dynamics and the ...More Button

Was asked: the complaints and appeals mechanisms that are in place for foster care parents that feel that they or their foster child have been treated unfairly or inappropriately by Tusla; and if she will mak...More Button

In serving the best interest of the child, it is vital that the voices of foster carers and children in care are heard. More Button

Foster carers can raise any issue or provide feedback directly with their link worker in the first instance, and subsequently with team leader or principal social worker, and they may also make r...More Button

A complaints system for children in care is part of the National Standards for Foster Care. Children coming into care are informed of how to make a complaint, verbally or in writing, and of th...More Button

In addition, the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) independently advocates on behalf of foster carers, providing support and mediation services as needed in the event of differences that may a...More Button

Foster Care Supports (Continued)

I do not know when the rates were last reviewed but I will find that out for the Deputy.More Button

If it is the case, as he suggests, that the rates have not been reviewed recently, it is even more important that this should be done in the context of the extensive review of the Child Care Act in...More Button

The Deputy has made his points very well. As I said, they are timely in the context of the review being conducted within my Department. The Deputy referred in particular to the income supports th...More Button

Childcare Services Funding

Was asked: the level of funding that will be provided in 2018 to assist in the upgrading of existing child care facilities and the provision of additional child care places; and if she will make a statement o...More Button

Was asked: the level of funding that will be provided in 2018 to assist in the upgrading of existing community and private child care facilities and the provision of additional child care places, both communi...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 60 together.More Button

An allocation of €6.86 million was secured in budget 2018 for my Department's capital funding programme. As in 2017, this will be allocated to early years and school age child care capital proje...More Button

Officials in my Department have listened to feedback from providers in developing the capital programme 2018. The result of this will be a programme that builds on previous successes while also ...More Button

Departmental officials have liaised with Pobal and with city and county child care committees, CCCs, in order to determine the focus, priorities and structure of the capital programme, with a spe...More Button

As in previous years, I anticipate great demand for capital grant funding in 2018. The programme will assist in achieving providers' goals in terms of the improvement, maintenance and expansion ...More Button

The total capital budget allocation for 2016 and 2017 was increased during each programme's run, in response to the extraordinary levels of demand from providers. Those increases were achieved thr...More Button

On the question of when funding is announced, I have tried to learn from the past and am absolutely determined to ensure applications are received as soon as possible so that plans can be made, m...More Button

I will have my eye on that, which is all I can say for now.More Button

Homeless Persons Supports

Was asked: if her Department is conducting an examination into the physical and mental health impacts on children experiencing homelessness; if not, her plans to do so; and if she will make a statement on the...More Button

Was asked: if she will report on the weekly actions she undertakes to mitigate the longer-term damaging impacts of homelessness on children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Homeless Persons Supports (Continued)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 51 together. I thank Deputy Broughan for the excellent questions. I believe the Deputy is aware that I am committed to helping children and families as par...More Button

We are trying to find a solution which, in the medium term, provides an environment where children and families can live in a less stressed, less cramped environment. This is why the Minister fo...More Button

They are not a long-term solution but, in my opinion and from what families have told me, the hubs are a big improvement on hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation. There are currently 11 hub...More Button

Through my Department, I have introduced free child care for the children of families experiencing homelessness. Some families are already eligible under existing schemes. I am happy to say tha...More Button

As we discussed earlier, Tusla also has responsibility for the school completion programme. This provides supports for children at risk of not reaching their potential in the educational system....More Button

Tusla and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, at my request, are also supporting an initiative to support women who are pregnant and homeless or at risk of homelessness. Tusla is providing fun...More Button

The Deputy is absolutely correct that the Ministers should be, and are, held accountable. I appreciate the Deputy's questions. He has raised some of them with me previously.More Button

On the question of researching and studying the mental health and well-being of the children, I agree with the issues identified by Deputy Broughan. It is not good for the mental health and well...More Button

Those are excellent questions and I will certainly investigate them. I do not know if I have specific answers, but my understanding, having asked, is that Tusla is working closely in particular wi...More Button

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.More Button

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.More Button

Child and Family Agency Services

Was asked: the progress in relation to providing 24 hour access to social work services; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight my commitment to ensuring that a quality 24-hour emergency social work service is available across the country. I am pleased to have secured fund...More Button

Tusla has put in place a project team who are to re-organise services within an integrated national Tusla emergency service. This builds on the existing infrastructure. Key steps in the process...More Button

At present, there is a 24 hour Emergency Out Of Hours phone service in place in all areas. There is a dedicated phone number for Gardaí and hospitals to access social work consultation out of h...More Button

Officials from my Department and Tusla recently visited a service that provides the out of hour supports in Northern Ireland. The service they provide differs from ours, as it is a wider service...More Button

In urgent situations, Gardaí must be present to access premises or to remove a child to a place of safety as social workers do not have such legal powers. For example, the decision to invoke sec...More Button

The expanded Tusla Emergency Service will enable greater joint working between Gardaí and Tusla, which will create better outcomes and faster responses for children at immediate risk. More Button

Was asked: the extent to which her Department continues to monitor children and families at risk with a view to averting incidents of self harm; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

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 family support...More Button

Key elements of the support provided to children at risk of self harm may include referral and advocacy for access to specialist services to meet the child’s needs, for example counselling and ps...More Button

Tusla will continue to strive to meet the requirements of the children and families they serve, and I will continue to support them in doing so.More Button

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Was asked: when the report of the expert technical group dealing with the site of the former mother and baby home at Tuam, County Galway will be brought before Cabinet; when it is expected that the report wil...More Button

In June of this year I appointed a multi disciplinary team of technical experts to ensure that decisions on the future of the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co. Galway would be in...More Button

The Expert Group's preliminary report outlines the range of options which could be considered as next steps on this site. I published this report on my Department's website in July. The Expert Gr...More Button

My primary concern is to ensure that whatever action is taken respects the memory and dignity of the deceased children who lived their short lives in this institution. The report will be publishe...More Button

Early Childhood Care and Education

Was asked: if the necessary capacity exists within the preschool sector in 2018 to provide a space for all those that want a place in County Cork in view of the fact that the entitlement to the early childhoo...More Button

Was asked: the demand for places under the early childhood care and education scheme in County Cork; the way in which deficits will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 62 together.More Button

My Department has conducted an analysis of ECCE capacity and is satisfied that there will be no shortfall in ECCE places for the 2017-2018 programme year. ECCE providers have catered for over 120...More Button

Further, from September 2018, the ECCE Programme will revert to one single entry point in a given ECCE Programme Year (i.e. September) with eligible children entitled to two full years of ECCE pr...More Button

Towards assisting in alleviating pressures with regard to availability of ECCE places in certain areas, my Department provided €8.4 million for its 2017 Early Years Capital funding programme. Thi...More Button

  Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 47.More Button

Was asked: the steps she is taking to address the considerable shortages in ECCE places that exist in certain parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department has conducted an analysis of ECCE capacity and is satisfied that there will be no shortfall in ECCE places for the 2017/2018 programme year. More Button

It should be noted that the peak number of children attending ECCE in 2016/2017 was just over 120,000. The 2017/2018 numbers are expected (and on track) to be in line with 2016/2017 uptake. Furth...More Button

As with the previous expansion of the ECCE programme, my Department is working closing with all of the City and County Childcare Committees to monitor a range of scheme related issues, including ...More Button

Recent media statements on this issue cited the total number of children aged 3-5 in the population and concluded that there was a capacity issue for ECCE. This did not account for the many 4 and...More Button

One of the measures I took in 2016, and again in 2017, was to support capital development. My Department provided €8.4million for its 2017 Early Years Capital funding programme and €4m for the 20...More Button

Was asked: the status of the review her Department has commissioned into the cost of providing early childhood care and education; and the date by which this review will be published.More Button

The Independent Review of the Cost of Providing Quality Childcare is a critical input to the on-going reform of childcare in Ireland and is commitment in the Programme for Government.

&nbs...More Button

Was asked: the steps she is taking to address the considerable shortages in ECCE places that exist in certain parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department has conducted an analysis of ECCE capacity and is satisfied that there will be no shortfall in ECCE places for the 2017/2018 programme year. More Button

It should be noted that the peak number of children attending ECCE in 2016/2017 was just over 120,000. The 2017/2018 numbers are expected (and on track) to be in line with 2016/2017 uptake. Fur...More Button

As with the previous expansion of the ECCE programme, my Department is working closing with all of the City and County Childcare Committees to monitor a range of scheme related issues, including ...More Button

Recent media statements on this issue cited the total number of children aged 3-5 in the population and concluded that there was a capacity issue for ECCE. This did not account for the many 4 an...More Button

One of the measures I took in 2016, and again in 2017, was to support capital development. My Department provided €8.4million for its 2017 Early Years Capital funding programme and €4m for the 2...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the introduction of a 7% increase in ECCE capitation with effect from September 2017, which represents an increase of €4.50 per week for an ECCE-age child on stan...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, among a number of measures announced by my Department in Budget 2018, was that from September 2018 capitation paid to Early Years providers for the delivery of the ECCE...More Button

- Standard capitation rate will increase from €64.50 to €69 per child per weekMore Button

- Higher capitation rate will increase from €75 to €80.25 per child per weekMore Button

This increase in capitation acknowledges the need to improve conditions for the early years workforce, thereby supporting the recruitment and retention of high quality staff, and facilitating the...More Button

It should be noted that the ECCE programme is a standalone pre-school programme and the capitation increase is payable to those providers who are delivering this programme.More Button

The ‘September Measures’ relate to the introduction of the Community Childcare Subvention Universal (CCSU) payment and an increase in band rates across the different strands of the Community Chil...More Button

Was asked: her strategy to increase investment to all services and especially to children under three years of age, in view of the fact that this can be the most labour intensive and resource heavy area; and ...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware the measures that I introduced as part of Budget 2018 demonstrate my continued commitment to increasing investment in services for children including those children unde...More Button

Affordable Childcare Scheme Implementation

Was asked: the status of the legislative and ICT infrastructure that will be required to deliver the single affordable childcare scheme; the date by which this will be delivered; and if she will make a statem...More Button

Budget 2017 announced a radical redesign of how we deliver support to make quality childcare accessible and affordable for families in Ireland. The new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) will provid...More Button

My Department is currently putting in place the legal and technical infrastructures to underpin the Affordable Childcare Scheme. I am delighted to report that draft legislation to give our new ap...More Button

The building of a state of the art IT system to make subsidised childcare more accessible is also being advanced. The IT development is subject to scrutiny by a peer review group (PRG) at the Off...More Button

Whilst delivering the scheme as soon as possible remains a priority, I believe that it is prudent to ensure we get the new systems right, so that they operate smoothly for everyone. Accordingly, ...More Button

While intensive work is underway, the project is heavily dependent on timelines beyond its immediate control, such as the advancement of legislation through the Oireachtas. In particular, the ti...More Button

We are well on our way to introducing the Affordable Childcare Scheme. In the meantime, the families of 64,000 children or 91% of the children eligible for the measures introduced by my Departmen...More Button

Direct Provision System

Was asked: her views on whether the lives of children in direct provision have improved since April 2017 when the children's Ombudsman began accepting complaints from children or on behalf of children living ...More Button

I can inform the Deputy that, in my opinion, the lives of children living in Direct Provision improved significantly when it was confirmed that the Ombudsman for Children had remit to receive comp...More Button

The Ombudsman for Children has statutory independence in the exercise of his functions under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. I am aware that significant work has been done by the Ombudsman f...More Button

I am also aware that, in the context of its complementary statutory function to promote children's rights and welfare, the OCO is delivering workshops on children's rights for children living in ...More Button

My Department was represented on the Working Group on the Protection Process that was chaired by Judge Bryan McMahon that published its report in June 2015. One of that Group's recommendations wa...More Button

Officials in my Department also assisted the Department of Justice and Equality in consulting with children in Direct Provision centres on what they thought about their lives in these places. The...More Button

At present, officials in my Department are working with the Department of Justice and Equality to develop standards for the governance and management of Direct Provision centres. More Button

I believe all of these measures have and will improve the lives of children in these centres. However, I believe the real improvement will come in improvements to the processing of applications t...More Button

Child Detention Centres

Was asked: her plans to ensure that mental health needs at Oberstown children detention campus are being met in view of data collected by the centre relating to over 55% of detainees described as having a men...More Button

My paramount objective for Oberstown is the safety, care and well-being of all young people detained there. While each young person is in Oberstown the aim is to provide best care, education and th...More Button

The so-called "CEHOP" framework supports the journey through care of each child through planning and co-operation of all agencies addressing Care, Education, Health, Offending Behaviour and Prepa...More Button

The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2) mental health screening takes place on all children entering detention to gauge the level of risk they may pose to themselves. The multi-dis...More Button

The ACTS include psychologists, social workers, speech and language therapists and addiction counsellors. The role of the service is to provide specialist assessment or intervention from speciali...More Button

ACTS also engages in short term interventions, when children return to their communities, to support them to re-engage with mainstream services, as appropriate. The service is flexible in that, a...More Button

ACTS supports professionals in their ongoing work with young people and also liaises with services to facilitate the continuation of ongoing therapeutic work when the young person’s detention ends.More Button

Was asked: her plans to introduce a legal framework governing the use of single separation at Oberstown children detention campus.More Button

In light of the developments and improvements detailed below regarding the use and monitoring of single separation, I have no plans to introduce a legal framework governing its use. More Button

In January 2017 my Department published A National Policy on Single Separation Use in Secure Accommodation for Children: Special Care and Oberstown. It is my Department's policy that the use of S...More Button

Arising from this review, the separation procedures are being reviewed and revised in line with the new policy. All staff are receiving refresher training on the policy and will receive training...More Button

The number of separations that take place and the recording of what is deemed to be separation in line with the stated policy is a matter of concern which has emerged in the most recent HIQA insp...More Button

There is now a process in place to ensure that any extensions to the use of separation comply with these policies and procedures. This process includes the availability of senior management on a ...More Button

Was asked: if she is satisfied that the difficulties in Oberstown house are being resolved satisfactorily; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The safety and well-being of young people and staff in Oberstown is my primary concern.More Button

In addressing the challenges posed by the issues on the Oberstown Children Detention Campus (Oberstown), the Board of Management commissioned independent reviews in a number of key areas includi...More Button

There were a number of objectives for these reviews. Key among these is to ensure that full account is taken of the changes that have occurred in recent times. A further objective is to ensure th...More Button

To ensure the implementation of each of the reviews’ recommendations, as appropriate, I established a Review Implementation Group in March 2017. This Implementation Group is tasked with analysing...More Button

My paramount objective for Oberstown is the safety and well-being of the children, the staff working in Oberstown and the people living in the local community. I believe that good progress has be...More Button

Was asked: her views on the findings of the HIQA inspection of Oberstown children detention campus in regard to the concerns raised regarding periods of prolonged isolation; and the way in which she plans to ...More Button

In March 2017 the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) undertook an inspection at Oberstown Children Detention Campus. A number of areas which require improvement were identified. An Act...More Button

I very much welcome the comprehensive Action Plan to address those areas identified by HIQA that require improvement, and I will keep the implementation of this Plan under review. More Button

I think it is important to point out that the HIQA report also identified a number of positive improvements at the Campus since the previous report. These include access by children to advocates;...More Button

HIQA raised issues in the most recent Report and in previous reports in relation to single separation and the recording of same. It is my Department’s policy that the use of any restrictive pract...More Button

After the publication of my Department’s national policy on single separation in January 2017, a review of the Separation Policy for Oberstown took place, and the Oberstown Board of Management ap...More Button

An improved system of record keeping on the use of single separation has been further informed by an audit review that looked at staff compliance with campus procedures and policies. In order to...More Button

Children who are remanded or sentenced at Oberstown have multiple complex needs and vulnerabilities. Providing an ethos of care for children with such complex needs is essential in the safeguardi...More Button

Youth Services Provision

Was asked: the degree to which her Department continues to liaise with youth organisations with a view to identifying their concerns and putting in place measures to address issues arising; and if she will ma...More Button

My Department maintains close contact with the national youth organisations and I and officials from my Department meet formally with these organisations twice a year to share knowledge and inform...More Button

Youth Work Projects Funding

Was asked: her plans to increase the funding for youth work projects in County Laois in view of the growing young population.More Button

Laois Youth Services received €86,803 in funding in 2017 under the Special Projects for Youth scheme. Under this Scheme, grant-aid is made available in respect of out-of-school projects for disadva...More Button

In addition, funding has been provided to Laois Offaly Education and Training Board under the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, Youth Capital Funding Scheme and the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme.More Button

The Deputy may be aware that my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This will provide an opportunity to identify need and to focus funding on you...More Button

Under this reform earlier this year, I approved funding of €800,000 for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new c...More Button

Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the recently completed exercise which mapped youth service provision across the State. This mapping will assist the Departm...More Button

Affordable Childcare Scheme

Was asked: if the issue of Tusla registered child care services not taking part in the affordable childcare scheme has been addressed; if so, the measures that have been taken; if she has a record of the part...More Button

I am delighted to state that as of November 22th, 3,274 services have signed up for the more affordable childcare measures I introduced in September 2017. This represents approximately 88% of Early...More Button

A record of all participating providers is maintained by Pobal, which operates the Early Years schemes on behalf of DCYA. The 30 City and County Childcare Committees are also aware of services t...More Button

I am delighted to state that the families of over 64,000 children are benefitting from these increased childcare supports, and the figure continues to rise on a daily basis. 30,000 children are r...More Button

To respond to providers that had expressed concerns around the administration of these new measures, I recently announced payments totalling €3.5 million for all childcare providers who register ...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the legislative and ICT infrastructure that will be needed to deliver the single affordable childcare scheme; the date by which this will be delivered; and if she will make a...More Button

Budget 2017 announced a radical redesign of how we deliver support to make quality childcare accessible and affordable for families in Ireland. The new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) will provi...More Button

My Department is currently putting in place the legal and technical infrastructures to underpin the Affordable Childcare Scheme. I am delighted to report that draft legislation to give our new a...More Button

The building of a state of the art IT system to make subsidised childcare more accessible is also being advanced. The IT development is subject to scrutiny by a peer review group (PRG) at the Of...More Button

Whilst delivering the scheme as soon as possible remains a priority, I believe that it is prudent to ensure we get the new systems right, so that they operate smoothly for everyone. Accordingly,...More Button

While intensive work is underway, the project is heavily dependent on timelines beyond its immediate control, such as the advancement of legislation through the Oireachtas. In particular, the ti...More Button

We are well on our way to introducing the Affordable Childcare Scheme. In the meantime, the families of 64,000 children or 91% of the children eligible for the measures introduced by my Departme...More Button

Was asked: the reason the administration and management of the affordable childcare scheme is being devolved into ECCE providers that are already overburdened with administration paperwork resulting in the re...More Button

I am aware that some providers have expressed concerns around the administration of these new measures, I announced in recent months payments totalling €3.5 million towards programme supports payme...More Button

Mental Health Services

Was asked: the status of the working group involving the HSE, the Department of Health and Tusla co-ordinating a focus for the State's provision of mental health services for young persons; and if she will ma...More Button

My officials, in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Health, are currently identifying a date in December for the inaugural meeting of this group. It is envisaged that this group wi...More Button

The key objective of the working group is to examine the psychological and mental health services for children and young people with the aim of ascertaining a clear continuum of provision, streng...More Button

It is expected that the working group will meet bimonthly.More Button

  Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 45.More Button

Cyber Security Policy

Was asked: the steps being taken to ensure young persons' cyber safety and her plans to publish a national strategy on children’s cyber safety.More Button

Protecting children from online abuse, bullying and grooming requires a whole of government approach. The devastating effects are becoming increasingly obvious in our homes, schools and communitie...More Button

Departmental Reports

Was asked: her role and involvement in the work leading from the Mulvey report on Dublin's north inner city in the area of child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department is very actively involved in the North East Inner City Initiative which is progressing apace on foot of the Mulvey Report. Officials from my Department are represented on the Senior O...More Button

My Department is working to enhance alignment of existing initiatives in the North East Inner City as well as the development of other responses which add value to the actions of the Mulvey Repor...More Button

One of the outcomes in the Mulvey Report Action Plan is that local Early Years providers should implement the Síolta and Aistear frameworks. My Department, along with the Department of Education ...More Button

The implementation of Síolta and Aistear by early years services in the area is being supported by the Better Start quality development service and by the National Síolta Aistear Initiative. This...More Button

Eight services in the North East Inner City have engaged with the Better Start quality development service to access mentoring supports. Of these, three have completed a programme of support, fou...More Button

Alongside the Better Start quality development service, the National Síolta Aistear Initiative has provided training and resources to City and County Childcare Committees to support the implement...More Button

My Department will continue in 2018 to progress the actions in the Mulvey Report including those that relate to childcare to ensure that services and facilities are providing for the needs of the...More Button

Cyberbullying Issues

Was asked: her role in protecting children from online bullying, abuse and grooming; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I refer the Deputy to the reply that I provided to the same question that she asked as a Priority Question today.More Button

Child Protection

Was asked: the progress made to address the issues raised in the special rapporteur on child protection's report on child protection processes and procedures of An Garda Síochána.More Button

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the stand alone report commissioned by the Garda Síochána which was published as "Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Sectio...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.1 - Cultural change is being addressed by means of regular meetings by senior managers in the Garda Síochána and Tusla. The Strategic Liaison Committee, attended by senior ...More Button

- Recommendations 6.3.3 and 6.3.14 - the assessment of needs and provision of supports for families and children are being addressed through Tusla's roll out of a new single national approach to...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.5 - Substance misuse issues as a key indicator of risk: I have written to my colleague, the Minister for Health, bringing the concerns highlighted in the report about alcoho...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.6 Data protection: The Strategic Liaison Committee is planning to bring any actions or legislative change to the attention of myself and Minister Flanagan at the start of 20...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.7 - Protocols to support the commencement of the Children First Act 2015: A protocol between An Garda Síochána and Tusla is being finalised in advance of the commencement of...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.13 - Assigning social workers to national specialist Garda child protection units: The Garda National Child Protection Unit has now been established. A senior staff member ...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.14 - Appropriate assessment of the child's needs, including the child's mental health: My Department has written to the Departments of Health and Education in relation to th...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.17.1 - Delegation of Tusla's role under section 12: Tusla indicates that it was never the case that its role was implemented by a private provider. This is and has been exe...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.17.2 - Use of foster placements and applicability of section 36(1)(b) of the Act: Tusla notes that a child received under section 12 is not in care but is in Tusla's custod...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.17.3 - Applicability of Child Care Act and regulations to foster care providers used to provide accommodation in urgent or emergency cases: Tusla have confirmed that the sta...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.17.4 - Standards to be applied for foster placements used under Part 3 Protection of Children in Emergencies of the Child Care Act 1991: Irrespective of the pathway into Tu...More Button

- Recommendation 6.3.17.5 - Social work service to be provided out of normal office hours: Tusla’s immediate plan to enhance the out of hours service includes the integration of the three exist...More Button

I would note that research into the use of emergency care orders, under section 13 of the Child Care Act, is also progressing with Tusla. More Button

As the Deputy may be aware, a member of the Garda Síochána has the power to enter a premises and remove a child to a place of safety if they have formed the view that there is immediate risk to t...More Button

Childcare Services Staff

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 17 October 2017, if a child care facility (details supplied) will be supported.More Button

My Department made €1m of ‘CE Sustainability Funding’ available in 2017 to support services that had been impacted by staff qualification requirements in the 2016 Regulations. This funding was desi...More Button

Child and Family Agency

Was asked: the extent to which reports of children at risk of mental, physical or sexual abuse have been brought to the attention of her Department by various bodies under its aegis; the extent to which the s...More Button

I wish to assure the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, deals immediately with emergency cases, including for instance, if a child is in immediate physical danger or at immediate risk ...More Button

Tusla holds the statutory responsibility for child welfare and protection, and is the appropriate body to receive reports of concerns relating to children at risk. Each referral received by the ...More Button

A number of key provisions of the Children First Act, 2015, have already commenced. On the 11th December the remaining parts of the Children First Act, 2015, will be commenced with the introducti...More Button

I believe that we have made significant progress in our structures and practices for child protection. The Children First Act, 2015, is of particular significance, but I would see it as part of ...More Button

There is no room for complacency about our safeguarding measures and we will constantly review them to ensure that they are effective.More Button

Tusla works closely with other care providers, including the Health Service Executive, in respect of access to primary care services, child and adolescent mental health services, disability and o...More Button

Was asked: the degree to which a rapid response exists in cases of incidents of children at risk brought to the attention of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, deals immediately with emergency cases, including for instance, if a child has been abandoned or is in immediate physical danger or at immediate risk of sexual a...More Button

It is important to note that if a child is at immediate risk or in danger, the Gardaí should be alerted without delay. Under the Child Care Act 1991, as amended, Gardaí have the power to remove,...More Button

Where the child has been removed by Gardaí or risk is not immediate, Tusla can go directly to the Courts for an Emergency Care Order to bring the child into care. The Courts, as part of proceedi...More Button

Tusla, holds the statutory responsibility for child welfare and protection, and is the appropriate body to receive reports of concerns relating to children at risk. Each referral received by the ...More Button

I have been very pleased to have secured an additional €40m for Tusla in Budget 2018 - which will allow for the continued recruitment and expansion of Tusla social work, social care, family suppo...More Button

Adoption Records Provision

Was asked: the steps being taken to address access to adoption records for persons that spent time in mother and baby homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Adoption information and tracing services are currently provided on an administrative basis by Tusla, the Adoption Authority of Ireland and by bodies that have been accredited by the Authority unde...More Button

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 provides for the first time a statutory entitlement to identity information for adopted persons. It provides for a structured and regulated access...More Button

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Was asked: her plans for the provision of a 24-7 refuge for victims of domestic violence in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown; if so, the timeframe for the development of this refuge; and if she will make a statement on...More Button

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence whether in the context of the family or otherwi...More Button

In 2017, I provided Tusla with funding of over €22 million for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services. This represented an increase of €1.5 million over 2016. Arising from Budget 2...More Button

Tusla's priority is to achieve the best outcomes for victims of domestic violence from the use of its available resources. The provision of capital funding for refuges is dealt with by the Housi...More Button

Tusla recognises that the provision of emergency refuge accommodation for victims of domestic violence is a core element of the response to domestic violence. Safe Homes provide another service t...More Button

While there is no domestic violence refuge located in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area, there are currently four units of emergency Safe Home accommodation provided in the area, which are supporte...More Button

Tusla is aware of service pressures in certain areas of the country, and is actively examining needs and appropriate responses through its commissioning process. Tusla will continue to engage wit...More Button

Vacancies on State Boards

Was asked: the number of vacancies in each State board under the aegis of her Department, in tabular form.More Button

I am responsible for appointment of members to the boards of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), Gaisce and the Board of Management of the Oberstown Children Det...More Button

Appointments to State Boards Data

Was asked: the names of persons she has appointed to each State board under the aegis of her Department that have not come from the Public Appointments Service list of suitable candidates, in tabular form.More Button

I am responsible for the appointment of members to the boards of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), Gaisce (the President's Award) and the Board of Management f...More Button

Ministerial Communications

Was asked: if she has used a private email account to send or receive official documents or positions on Brexit; and if so, the details of this correspondence.More Button

I have not used a private email account for the purpose outlined in the Deputy's question.More Button

Departmental Bodies Data

Was asked: the bodies under the aegis of her Department to which her Department provides in excess of €1 million funding per annum; the public funding received by these bodies; the bodies for which 50% or mor...More Button

Particulars of the State bodies under the aegis of my Department and details of the Exchequer provisions allocated to them in 2017 are set out in the table:

More Button

After-School Support Services

Was asked: if there is an existing subsidy or tax relief for persons that send their children to Educate Together homework clubs; the details of these initiatives and income thresholds; her plans to increase ...More Button

My Department provides subsidies for after school childcare which can include homework clubs. More Button

Families are eligible for subsidies under the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS), Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) and Training and Employment (TEC) programmes. This childcare fundin...More Button

I can confirm that the SCP budget for 124 SCP projects for the school years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 was €23.3m per annum. For the school year 2015-16, the total level of spend for SCP proje...More Button

I would like to highlight that significant progress has been made regarding the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS). Once introduced, it will provide childcare supports for chil...More Button

The issue of tax relief should be addressed to the Minister of Finance as tax matters do not fall under the remit of my Department.More Button

Child Care Costs

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that large numbers of child care providers are continuing to increase fees following the introduction of the universal child care subsidy resulting in a ...More Button

As the Deputies will be aware, the factors impacting on the costs across delivery of services in any sector are complex and multifaceted. The cost to childcare providers is affected by many factor...More Button

Internet Safety

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the term within the video gaming industry of loot crates which is in effect is a system whereby in-game currency or real money is used to unlock certain procedure...More Button

I am not familiar with the issues to which the Deputy refers. My Department has no remit in relation to the regulation of video games or online technologies. The classification of video games and...More Button

However, I am concerned about the need to protect children from online abuse and other dangers from which they need protection. I believe these issues require a whole of Government approach as I...More Button

Child and Family Agency Reports

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 371 of 24 October 2017, the status of Tusla’s draft policy regarding adult disclosures of abuse in view of the fact that she expected this to be finalised in N...More Button

Tusla have informed me that the policy is due to be presented to the Tusla Senior Management Team for review by the end of this week. Once approved, it is expected that the document will be ready...More Button

Tusla's primary focus is always on risk to children that may be identified when a disclosure of abuse is made. Tusla is sensitive to the difficulty a person making such an allegation may exper...More Button

Services for People with Disabilities

Was asked: the funding that has been allocated for the administration of and application process for level 5 of the access and inclusion model in 2016 and 2017.More Button

Was asked: the funding that has been allocated for the administration of and application process for level 7 of the access and inclusion model in 2016 and 2017.More Button

Was asked: the amount of funding that has been allocated for the administration of and application process for level four of the access and inclusion model in 2016 and 2017.More Button

Was asked: the amount of funding that has been allocated for the administration of and application process for level six of the access and inclusion model in 2016 and 2017.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 586, 587, 597 and 598 together.

  AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to...More Button

Was asked: the number of applications made for the access and inclusion model in 2016 and 2017, in tabular form.More Button

AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. AIM is a ...More Button

Was asked: the average number of hours of additional assistance provided to children at level 7 of the access and inclusion model.More Button

AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. AIM is a...More Button

In line with emerging best practice to support the integration and independence of children with a disability, AIM does not fund Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). Rather, it provides financial su...More Button

A pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent, can apply for AIM Level 7 support - additional capitation. Where the AIM Early Years Specialist (a support provided under AIM Level 4) consid...More Button

There are two rates of Level 7 capitation. The lower rate is €130 per week (which is calculated on the basis of 10 hours of support per week) and the higher rate is €195 per week (which is calcu...More Button

Pobal has advised that since AIM was introduced, 357 children have been approved for Level 7 capitation at the lower rate and 2,106 children have been approved for Level 7 capitation at the highe...More Button

Departmental Contracts Data

Was asked: the public contracts between her Department and companies (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2016; the value of each contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is presented in tabular format below:

More Button

Domestic Violence Services Funding

Was asked: if capital investment will be made available to an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence whether in the context of the family or otherwi...More Button

In 2017, I provided Tusla with funding of over €22 million for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services. This was an increase of €1.5 million over 2016. Arising from Budget 2018, I a...More Button

Tusla's priority is to achieve the best outcomes for victims of domestic violence from the use of its available resources. The provision of capital funding for refuges is dealt with by the Housi...More Button

Tusla is aware that there have been discussions locally between the organisation in question and Wexford County Council about a potential development, and has indicated that it will work with all...More Button

Foster Care

Was asked: the steps she will take to address the evaluations by HIQA that have found that numerous foster care services have consistent and serious failings; and the steps she is taking to ensure that these ...More Button

I welcome HIQA's important work in relation to foster care services, and also the report prepared by the Joint Oireachtas Committee. I will respond to the Committee by year end.More Button

We are in the enviable situation here in Ireland that 92% of children living in care are in foster care placements. This compares very favourably to foster care services overseas. The most rece...More Button

By the end of last year, HIQA had inspected all foster care services. The findings showed that, in general, children in foster care were safe, happy, in good health and attending school. For 20...More Button

This year's inspections show delays in completing formal assessments of relative carers, and the lack of regular reviews of all foster carers. The need for Garda vetting for children over 16 and...More Button

The clear themes coming through are of the need for better oversight, recruitment of staff, the replenishment and broadening of foster care panels, improved supports and supervision of foster car...More Button

I am asking Tusla to provide me with a national strategy for the recruitment of foster carers as part of its 2018 business plan, and to build on and improve the assessment and support for foster ...More Button

Was asked: the complaints and appeals mechanisms that are in place for foster care parents who feel that they or their foster child have been treated unfairly or inappropriately by Tusla; and if she will make...More Button

In serving the best interest of the child, it is vital that the voices of foster carers and children in care are heard. More Button

Foster carers can raise any issue or provide feedback directly with their link worker in the first instance, and subsequently with team leader or principal social worker, and they may also make r...More Button

A complaints system for children in care is part of the National Standards for Foster Care. Children coming into care are informed of how to make a complaint, verbally or in writing, and of th...More Button

In addition, the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) independently advocates on behalf of foster carers, providing support and mediation services as needed in the event of differences that may a...More Button

Questions Nos. 597 and 598 answered with Question No. 586.More Button

Child Care Services Staff

Was asked: the number of child care providers who have been trained as link workers on the new AIMS model launched in June 2016, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Leadership for Inclusion (LINC) higher education programme for early years practitioners was established in 2016 as part of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), with provision for 900 students...More Button

Domestic Violence

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to grants that are available to domestic abuse victims who are being housed in temporary supported housing which help towards the cost of furnishings and other goods...More Button

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence whether in the context of the family or otherwi...More Button

In 2017, I provided Tusla with funding of over €22 million for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services. This represented an increase of €1.5 million over 2016. Arising from Budget 2...More Button

Tusla does not provide dedicated grant funding to individuals affected by domestic violence who are residing in temporary accommodation. Tusla funded organisations supporting victims of domestic...More Button

I am advised that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, may make a single Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) to help mee...More Button

Early Childhood Care and Education Data

Was asked: if she has examined the data protection issues which could potentially arise from requiring ECCE providers to administer aspects of the various State schemes, such as the financial data of parents;...More Button

Work is currently underway to introduce a new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) which will provide financial support for parents towards the cost of childcare. The new scheme will provide a system...More Button

Where parents wish to avail of supports they will apply directly to the scheme administrator. In order to make the application process as easy as possible for parents, it is intended that the mea...More Button

The use of the PPS number and data sharing across relevant public bodies and agencies will be enabled and supported through legislation and formal data sharing agreements.More Button

The primary legislation will take account of all necessary amendments to existing legislation, including any changes which may be required to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2015. Consultat...More Button

Departmental Funding

Was asked: the extent to which she and bodies or groups under her aegis have received or are scheduled to receive supportive funding from her Department, with specific reference to youth organisations, bodies...More Button

The overall budget for the Youth Sector in 2017 is €57.4 million in current expenditure, this funding supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, in...More Button

Departmental Budgets

Was asked: the extent to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of resources available to her Department to meet all contingencies in the course of 2018; if particular issues of concern have been ...More Button

Budget 2018 made provision for a gross funding provision of €1.384 billion to my Department in 2018. This represents an increase of €73 million or 6% over the allocation for 2017. The Deputy might ...More Button

I am satisfied that the significant additional resources secured for 2018 will allow my Department and its agencies build on the good work by all involved in working with children and families to...More Button

Departmental Staff

Was asked: if she is satisfied regarding the adequacy of the staffing levels available to and through her Department to meet all anticipated requirements in the course of 2018; and if she will make a statemen...More Button

Since my appointment as Minister, my Department's staffing complement has grown from 181 to 241 people, with a further cohort currently being recruited which will bring the total staffing numbers t...More Button

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 sati...More Button

Children in Care

Was asked: the number of children in residential care; the extent to which such numbers have fluctuated in the past five years; the age profile of such children; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of children and their age profile in foster homes; the extent to which these numbers have fluctuated over the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 608 and 609 together.

  Tusla, the Child and Family Agency have advised that as of the end of August 2017, there were 6,237 children in care. The...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which her Department monitors the well-being of children in residential or foster care on an ongoing basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

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 re...More Button

The placement of children in care is governed by Regulations. These provide for the welfare of the child, the care practices, care records, accommodation and safety precautions. Children, dependi...More Button

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...More Button

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 o...More Button

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 C...More Button

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...More Button

Child Abuse

Was asked: the extent to which instances of child abuse of a physical, mental or sexual nature have been brought to her Department's attention since it was established; if the issues have been satisfactorily ...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, was established on the 1st January 2014. Tusla have provided a breakdown of the referrals they have received in the years 2014, 20...More Button

Child and Family Agency Funding

Was asked: the extent to which she and her Department continues to grant aid to organisations involved in caring for children at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has responsibility for grant programmes covering Child Welfare and Protection, the School Completion Programme, and Family and Community Support, all of which pr...More Button

The total expenditure in grants paid by Tusla in 2016 came to €143.9m. The precise amount of 2017 funding will be confirmed by year end. My Department supports the work of Tusla in providing thes...More Button

Child Care Legislation

Was asked: the degree to which her Department offers support to undocumented families, with particular reference to children that might be at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

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...More Button

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...More Button

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 wi...More Button

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 chi...More Button

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

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 Equal...More Button

Counselling Services Provision

Was asked: the extent to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the counselling services available through her Department to children and families at risk; and if she will make a statement on t...More Button

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 vol...More Button

Preschool Services

Was asked: the amount of funding that has been allocated to levels 4 to 7 of the access and inclusion model between September 2016 and September 2017.More Button

Was asked: the amount of funding that has been allocated to levels 4 to 7 of the access and inclusion model to date in 2017.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 617 and 618 together.

  AIM supports children with disabilities to reap the full benefits of free pre-school education. Its goal is to empower pr...More Button

Foireann Roinne

I propose to take Questions Nos. 619 and 620 together.More Button

Ag tús 2017, bhí 188 ball foirne i mo Roinn. Tá 241 fostaí ann anois. Dhá cheann de na folúntais bhreise a líonadh, baineadh úsáid as sruthanna Ghaeilge de chuid chomórtais na Seirbhíse um Cheapa...More Button