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Fitzgerald, Frances

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 Nbr. 3


Priority Questions - Constitutional Amendment on Children

Was asked: if she will provide an update on drafting of the adoption legislation to accompany the children’s rights referendum; if this legislation will be published before the Dáil summer recess...More Button

Officials in my Department and I are continuing a substantial engagement with the Attorney General and her officials to progress the Government’s commitment to hold a referendum to amend the ...More Button

In parallel with bringing forward the proposed constitutional change in favour of children’s rights, there is a need to provide for clarity around related proposals for legislative change reg...More Button

The referendum on children’s rights is a programme for Government priority. The Government is satisfied that the nature of the referendum is such that it will be a stand-alone matter to allo...More Button

I made a decision shortly after taking office when I examined the issues involved relating to the referendum that it would be in the public interest to publish the heads of the Bill, the legislatio...More Button

Priority Questions - Child Care Services

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the absence of a comprehensive 24 hour child protection service has left gardaí as front line protectors of children in emergency; her plans ...More Button

As part of the ongoing change agenda in child and family services, I am committed to developing the capacity of our child protection services to address appropriately and effectively the needs of c...More Button

Outside the greater Dublin area, the HSE operates an emergency place of safety service whereby gardaí can access an emergency placement for children found to be at risk out of hours. This s...More Button

I am acutely aware of and share many of the ongoing concerns regarding the need to develop these services further and I am committed to implementing service developments in this area. I informed t...More Button

I absolutely agree that Garda stations are not the place for young children in need of care. However, I wish to pay tribute to the work done by gardaí who are dealing with this issue. I ha...More Button

This is an extremely important issue which has gone on for far too long. I pay tribute to the emergency place of safety service which the Garda can access. Most of the young children being brough...More Button

We have a service available in Dublin, to which approximately 800 children were referred in 2010. They were placed in a variety of settings. That is an emergency out-of-hours social work service....More Button

Priority Questions - Adoption Services

Was asked: further to his response to questions on access to and safeguarding of records of de facto illegal adoptions (details supplied), the number of such records held by the Health Service Executiv...More Button

The Deputy has asked for information on records about persons who were told or believed they had been adopted and in respect of whom there are no adoption records. It must be understood the Adopti...More Button

I am advised that, at the specific request of the persons making a complaint, the Irish Adoption Board reported a number of such cases to the Garda, the Registrar General and the Director of Public...More Button

I have also made enquiries concerning the Deputy’s question about the number of such records held by the Health Service Executive. I have been informed that the HSE has not carried out a rev...More Button

As I indicated in a recent reply to the Deputy, I am looking into what steps may be possible in relation to such cases in the context of ongoing work by my Department with the Attorney General&rsqu...More Button

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.More Button

It is intended that the Bill will provide for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to have access to records currently held by a wide range of information sources, give the authority an oversight role...More Button

I take the Deputy’s point. I assure her it is intended that the Bill will provide for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to have access to records currently held by a wide range of informatio...More Button

The HSE is concerned about the issue of records and is taking what action it can in the meantime. We do not, at present, have a statutory situation for safeguarding the records in the way I have o...More Button

The adoption (tracing and information) Bill is part of the legislative programme for this year. Much work has been done on it and I hope and intend to bring it forward this year.More Button

There are no provisions regarding the retention and preservation of such records in current legislation. The Adoption Authority of Ireland has no remit in respect of such matters. We need the new...More Button

Priority Questions - Health Service Staff

Was asked: the number of social workers currently employed in the area of child protection and the way this compares to the number employed by the Health Service Executive at the start of 2011; and if she wil...More Button

The HSE compiles a monthly census of employment in the public health and social care sector. The latest data available are in respect of March, 2012. They show the total number of social workers ...More Button

The employment census also provides a breakdown of staffing levels by care group. In the case of social workers employed in the children and family area, the figures indicate there were 1,183 WTEs...More Button

The latest available information from the HSE indicates that 31 social work staff in the child and family services area availed of the recent early retirement scheme. Other vacancies have also ari...More Button

The trend in the recruitment of social workers is upward. Staff for the 60 posts I indicated would be filled last year have been recruited.More Button

Yes, they are. The Deputy is misunderstanding the figures. It should be noted that there is a difference between recruitment and retention, as pointed out in a report published on Monday. A tota...More Button

They are in place. I am trying to explain what happens in a normal workforce of 1,000——More Button

In a normal workforce of 1,000 there will be significant movement in and out of the service. Women comprise some 87% of the social worker cohort we are discussing, most of them under 40 years of a...More Button

Let us not argue about specific figures. It is important that we consider the broad range of issues that affect a workforce of 1,000. As part of the recruitment process under way, an additional 5...More Button

I need the Deputy to understand clearly——More Button

I do not accept that the Deputy does. The recruitment has been completed, but there have been 31 retirements. Mr. Jeyes can, at his discretion, replace those who have retired.More Button

Priority Questions - Foreign Adoptions

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No 27 of 22 March 2012, the outcome of the Adoption Authority of Ireland visit to India scheduled for the end of April 2012; if prospective parents trying to adopt...More Button

On 1 July 2011 the Adoption Authority of Ireland was notified by the Indian National Central Authority, known as CARA, that it would not be accepting dossiers from Irish applicants either until 30 ...More Button

I do not agree. I agree that adoption work and the international relationships among countries participating in inter-country adoption are very complex because we must take into account the law in...More Button

The new CEO of the AAI has taken up his position only in recent weeks. I wish him the very best. I have had a number of meetings with him and with Geoffrey Shannon, the chairman of the board. Th...More Button

With regard to India, I have spoken to the Indian ambassador to Ireland and have asked him to give us whatever information he can. I have been using diplomatic channels to assess the circumstances...More Button

After signing up to the Hague Convention, many countries have stopped the process until they get their own law and processes in order. There has been something of a delay and it has been very toug...More Button

I assure the Deputy the communication issues are being dealt with. Efforts are being made by all concerned to ensure the best possible communication with those who want to adopt.More Button

The representation of the board is laid down in legislation. It could well require legislative change if the nominee did not have the background described. I can examine this and I will correspon...More Button

Other Questions - Children in Care

Was asked: the number of children on turning 18 years who have left high support units or special care units during each of the past five years; and the number of these children who did not receive aftercare ...More Button

Was asked: if she will introduce after care as a legal right for young persons in care who turn 18 years in line with pre-election commitments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 114 together.More Button

The HSE has advised me that four young people left high support or special care units in each of the past five years on reaching 18 years of age. Therefore, there are 20 young people in total. I ...More Button

Section 45 of the Child Care Act 1991 places a statutory duty on the HSE to form a view in regard to each person leaving care as to whether there is a so-called need for assistance and, if it forms...More Button

The most important requirement for young people leaving care is secure, suitable accommodation, in addition to further education, employment or training and social support. The most vulnerable gro...More Button

The HSE national aftercare service is underpinned by a national policy and procedures document which is being developed in co-operation with the key stakeholders, including the voluntary sector age...More Button

Yes.More Button

They all received after care services.More Button

It is clear from the information I have given and from other information we have discussed here that there is an increased focus on aftercare services for young people leaving care. I congratulate...More Button

The information I have received from across the country indicates that increasing levels of resources are being devoted to aftercare services. In addition, the number of those in receipt of afterc...More Button

I do not have details for the 20 young people to whom the Deputy referred, but collating data for them would certainly be a worthwhile exercise. I will see what information I can obtain on these y...More Button

I agree. Of course, there should have been an aftercare plan in place for these 20 young people. There was such a plan, but I concur with the Deputy that there is a need for further research of o...More Button

The answer is very straightforward. The clear advice from the Attorney General confirmed that section 45 was legally sound and placed a statutory responsibility on the HSE to form a view in respec...More Button

The practice has certainly changed. The clear legal advice I received from the Attorney General was that section 45 covered the situation legally and that there was no need for further provision. ...More Button

Other Questions - Child Abuse

Was asked: her views on whether the statutory responsibility to report suspicions and allegations of child abuse contained in the proposed Children First Bill and the possibility of sanctions for those who fa...More Button

Was asked: if she has carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal to introduce mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse contained in the current version of the Children First Bill; and if she will...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 96 together.More Button

The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides for clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and re...More Button

Experience in other countries indicates that guidance for those responsible for reporting and the effective screening of all reports are important in designing an effective filtering system which d...More Button

3 o’clockMore Button

Huge resources have been put in place in the past ten years in respect of Children First. Massive developments have taken place and the HSE and the Garda Síochána work closely togeth...More Button

In addition to the existing structures in place to support Children First, there has been an increase in the number of social workers operating in the child welfare and protection area. The recrui...More Button

Along with the Government and other parties in this House, I gave a commitment over the years to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory basis. It was felt it was important to change the ...More Button

This is only one part of a wider reform agenda in this area. We also have a range of other actions such as the setting up a new child and family support agency which will be a key element of the r...More Button

I have to support the Deputy on that.More Button

I thank the Deputy for raising this question. I have said all along that reporting is just one aspect of this area. The Children First guidelines, which have been in place for ten years, and the ...More Button

Professor Eileen Munro has done interesting work in the UK. I have worked in this area in the UK but it is a different situation to here. I accept the work in this area is very stressful as was h...More Button

We are also examining how we provide services for children and families. We sometimes forget the large amount of funding the State gives to a variety of agencies which work with children and famil...More Button

We want to prevent children coming into care. That is the key approach.More Button

I thank Deputy Ó Caoláin for his comments on this legislation at committee recently. I can assure Deputy McConalogue there is no charade going on. It is far from that. There is act...More Button

Cross-departmental discussions are taking place on additional funding for training. It is one of the issues that will be addressed. Quite a bit of money has been put aside by the HSE for training...More Button

I do not believe the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First will divert resources. At the end of the day, what is more important? We must ensure that those referrals of children w...More Button

I agree completely with the Deputy.More Button

Other Questions - Departmental Programmes

Was asked: the date on which she will publish her Department’s early years strategy. More Button

My Department is developing a new children and young people’s policy framework to cover the period from 2012 to 2017. It will build on Our Children — Their Lives, Ireland’s first...More Button

I have appointed an expert advisory group comprising external experts from a range of specialties, including paediatrics, early childhood care and education, child protection and public health nurs...More Button

The new children and young people’s policy framework is being developed in a holistic way to comprehend the continuum from infancy, through early and middle childhood, to adolescence through ...More Button

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.More Button

I am keen to ensure that the new policy framework will be informed by the views of children themselves as well the experience and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders in matters of interest to...More Button

Of course, it makes absolute sense if we are forming a new strategy to review the old one, examine what has been implemented and consider outstanding issues. The new strategy will be more comprehe...More Button

I was pleased the Government could give extra resources to my Department last year for child protection and to maintain the early years universal free pre-school year. An extra €19 million wa...More Button

Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed).

No IndicatorVoted No More Button

Written Answers - Preschool Curriculum

Was asked: the steps she is taking to ensure the Aistear curriculum is being followed by pre school providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the steps she is taking to ensure that the Síolta Framework for Early Learning is implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 110 together.More Button

Implementation of Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework is being led by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).More Button

The NCCA have set in place a range of activities to disseminate the materials and resources of Aistear to all those working with children in the 0-6 age range. For example, the online Aistear Toolk...More Button

As a preparatory step, the NCCA has been developing resources on Aistear for use in the early years sector and are working with Early Childhood Ireland on developing exemplars of good practice whic...More Button

Implementation of Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood is being overseen by the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, which is co...More Button

Early years settings can engage with Síolta on either a formal or an informal basis.More Button

Informal use of Síolta usually involves early years settings using the resource materials developed as part of the framework, such as the Síolta Setting Manuals and Research Digests, ...More Button

Formal engagement with Síolta means participation in the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme (QAP), with the support of a Síolta Coordinator/Mentor. The Síolta QAP is des...More Button

A field test of the Síolta QAP is currently underway. A number of organisations including the Voluntary Childcare Organisations and Prevention and Early Intervention Programmes are participa...More Button

An evaluation of the field test was commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills and completed in 2011. The evaluation was conducted in parallel with the ongoing development of the progra...More Button

Validation is the final stage of the Síolta QAP. Since the beginning of 2012, an increasing number of early years settings have reached the final stage of the QAP and have submitted their qu...More Button

Written Answers - Inter-Country Adoptions

Was asked: the number of inter-country adoptions approved in 2011 by Irish residents adopting from Hague-ratified countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

In accordance with the Adoption Act, 2010, which came into effect on 1 November 2010, inter-country adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention or with w...More Button

Since the establishment of the AAI in November 2012 the AAI have visited Vietnam, Florida and Bulgaria with a view to developing administrative agreements with these Hague ratified countries. The ...More Button

Furthermore I took the opportunity to visit Vietnam in recent months and met with the Vietnamese authorities, my visit coinciding with a visit of a delegation from the Adoption Authority of Ireland...More Button

Was asked: the steps she has taken to facilitate the inter-country adoption process between Ireland and Hague-compliant countries since taking office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if she will provide details of her policy position on inter-country adoptions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 125 together.More Button

The Adoption Act, 2010, which was commenced on 1st November 2010, coincided with Ireland’s formal ratification of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of...More Button

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) is an independent statutory body charged with implementing the Adoption Act, 2010. The Authority has responsibility for the direct operational implementation...More Button

The Authority has responsibility for the management of the various stages of the inter-country adoption process including the forwarding of applicant adoption packs under Article 15 of the Hague Co...More Button

In considering matters relating to inter-country adoption the Authority must satisfy itself that the adoption complies with the terms and conditions of the 1993 Hague Convention, which is a co-oper...More Button

Since the establishment of the AAI in November 2012 the AAI have visited Vietnam, Florida and Bulgaria with a view to developing administrative agreements with these Hague ratified countries. The ...More Button

Adoptions from non-Hague ratified countries, such as Russia and Ethiopia, effected under the transitional arrangements provided for in the Adoption Act 2010, are ongoing and are currently being ex...More Button

The Adoption Act, 2010, which provides the legislative framework for adoption in Ireland, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the c...More Button

It should be noted that the AAI has been allocated €3.3m in State funding this year in recognition of the new responsibilities set out in the Adoption Act, 2010. This is an increase of some 3...More Button

Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 101.More Button

Was asked: when she intends to sign a bilateral agreement with the Russian authorities to allow families to legitimately adopt children from Russia. More Button

The Hague Convention is a co-operative agreement drawn up to allow countries to mutually support one another in protecting the best interests of children in the intercountry adoption process. It s...More Button

A limited number of adoptions from Russia are currently being processed under transitional arrangements as provided for in the Adoption Act, 2010. Under the provisions of the legislation, such adop...More Button

An official delegation from Ireland recently visited Russia and held preliminary discussions regarding the potential for a bilateral agreement. I have received an initial assessment from the Adopt...More Button

The immediate priority of the Adoption Authority is the development of administrative arrangements with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention. Any future bilateral arrangements...More Button

Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 102.More Button

Was asked: the position regarding inter governmental bilateral adoption agreement which is required between Russia and Ireland before couples in the process of adopting in Russia can go ahead with the process...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that under the Adoption Act 2010 no Russian adoptions can take place until a bilateral agreement is signed with the Russian authorities, and when this bi...More Button

Was asked: the progress made to date towards the establishment of a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption with Russia in view of the provisions of the Hague Convention; the anticipated timeframe for c...More Button

Was asked: if she will prioritise efforts to enact a bilateral agreement for inter-country adoption between Ireland and Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 428 to 431, inclusive, together.More Button

The Hague Convention is a co-operative agreement drawn up to allow countries to mutually support one another in protecting the best interests of children in the inter-country adoption process. It s...More Button

A limited number of adoptions from Russia are currently being processed under transitional arrangements as provided for in the Adoption Act, 2010. Under the provisions of the legislation, such adop...More Button

An official delegation from Ireland recently visited Russia and held preliminary discussions regarding the potential for a bilateral agreement. I have received an initial assessment from the Adopti...More Button

The immediate priority of the Adoption Authority is the development of administrative arrangements with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention. Any future bilateral arrangements ...More Button

Was asked: the number of recorded inter-country adoptions by Irish adoptors in the past ten years in tabular form outlining the number of adoptions in each year and the breakdown by nationality of the childre...More Button

The following table shows the adoptions effected by Irish residents issued with Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability by country and year 2001-2010. It should be noted that these adoptions we...More Button

Registrations Pre-Adoption Act, 2010 (i.e. 2001-2010)More Button

The following table shows the number of intercountry adoptions registered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland from its establishment on 1st November, 2010 to date, which have been entered in the R...More Button

Registrations post-Adoption Act, 2010More Button

Written Answers - Foster Care Services

Was asked: her plans to ensure that the 14.4% of unapproved foster carers who are not relatives of the foster child will be approved by the foster care panel under Part III of the Child Care (Placement of Chi...More Button

Under the Child Care Act, 1991(as amended) the Health Service Executive (HSE) has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. If a child ...More Button

Prospective foster carers or applicants undergo an assessment and training process to establish their suitability and competence as future foster carers. The assessment procedure is carried out by ...More Button

At the end of December 2011, the HSE reported that 3,138 of the 3,769 foster carers in the country were approved by the foster care panel. 85.6% (i.e. 540) of the unapproved foster carers were rela...More Button

Written Answers - Youth Services

Was asked: the extent to which she has access to the necessary resources to develop a comprehensive range of youth support services in line with any deliberations she has had with existing service providers i...More Button

My Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. These include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People...More Button

The main objectives of my Department are to develop and implement coherent, coordinated and relevant youth policies and strategies to support the youth sector in providing effective non-formal educ...More Button

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 32 of 3 November 2011, the progress that has been made in her Department’s review of the operation of the Youth Work Act 2001 and the National Youth Work...More Button

As the Deputy is aware two policy developments the Youth Work Act, 2001 and the National Youth Work Development Plan 2003-2007 have provided the impetus for much of the development in...More Button

While the Youth Work Act established a structure for youth work, the National Youth Work Development Plan outlined an action plan for the development of the youth work sector for the period of 2003...More Button

My Department is currently developing an overarching Children and Young People’s Policy Framework for 2012-2017. The new Policy Framework will provide the basis for more detailed strategies i...More Button

Was asked: if she has any contingency plans to deal with the fall-out of the cuts affecting disadvantaged young persons, cuts to drugs services, Travellers' education services, the Canal regional youth servic...More Button

Was asked: if she has any contingency plans to deal with the fall-out of the cuts affecting disadvantaged young people, cuts to drugs services, Travellers' education services, the Canal regional youth service...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 126 together.More Button

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. These include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Yout...More Button

The main objectives of my Department are to develop and implement coherent, coordinated and relevant youth policies and strategies to support the youth sector in providing effective non-formal educ...More Button

In light of the significant reduction in the overall current budget for the youth sector the emphasis has been on preserving front line youth services. In determining financial allocations to initi...More Button

With the support of the Centre for Effective Services (CES), the Youth Affairs Unit is currently developing an overarching Youth Policy Framework (YPF). The Framework will clarify and enhance coher...More Button

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 93.More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she has quantified and costed the full range of children and youth services and supports she envisages for her Department for current and future years; the extent to which her p...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which priorities in respect of children and youth support services have been identified by her Department; the extent to which this compares with such services in other jurisdictions;...More Button

Was asked: if she is satisfied regarding the adequacy, strength and range of child and youth support services available at present; the extent of any weaknesses in the system; and if she will make a statement...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 443, 444 and 448 together.More Button

My Department supports the provision of a wide range of services and supports for children, young people and families. The overall budget for my Department for these services for 2012 is €406....More Button

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs improving outcomes for children and young people is my primary objective. Early childhood care and education programmes are priorities to enhance childre...More Button

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €58.306m is available in 2012 to support the provision...More Button

The services provided by the National Educational Welfare Board to support children and young people to benefit from and remain in the education system, the care and education services provided in ...More Button

As with all Government Departments and agencies, funding for the programmes of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has been reduced in recent years due to the general budgetary situation i...More Button

Written Answers - Child Care Services

Was asked: the number of children who were identified by the Health Service Executive as having parents or guardians who were financially unable to cope during each of the past five years; the type of support...More Button

Was asked: if she will confirm that no child has been taken into care due to a parent's financial inability to cope during each of the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 120 together.More Button

Under the Child Care Act 1991 children should, in the first instance, be supported to remain with their families. Children should only be taken into care where the HSE has identified abuse or the ...More Button

The various factors which can result in parental inability to cope include: physical or mental health problems, disability, drug or alcohol problems, and in some cases financial difficulties. Howe...More Button

My officials regularly meet with officials from the Department of Social Protection. At a meeting held in September of last year, this specific matter was discussed as part of a broader agenda. Th...More Button

Was asked: if she intends to introduce a Scandinavian system of childcare here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Government currently supports the provision of early childhood care and education through three support programmes — the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, the Community...More Button

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, introduced in January 2010, provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. Almost ...More Button

It is my objective to incrementally develop the ECCE programme over the term of this Government as resources permit. A key element of this is the implementation of the Workforce Development Plan by...More Button

Officials from my Department worked closely with the Department of Education and Skills in the development of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, and I welcome the recognition of the role ...More Button

In developing the ECCE programme the focus will be on improving the quality of childcare services.More Button

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme supports community-based childcare services by enabling them to provide childcare at reduced rates to disadvantaged and low income families. These...More Button

Under the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which was introduced in September 2010, funding is provided by my Department to participating childcare services in return for t...More Button

The eligibility criteria under which students and trainees qualify under the programme is determined by FÁS and the VECs. Approximately 2,800 full time equivalent childcare places are cur...More Button

I am pleased that all three support programmes are being retained despite the ongoing need to reduce Government expenditure. While there has been some revision to payment rates and subvention level...More Button

In December 2011, the Government announced a new National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) Capital Funding 2012 grant. This grant will provide capital funding of €6m this year to both co...More Button

Future developments relating to early years care and education will be considered during preparation of the new National Early Years Strategy 2012. This Strategy will be developed during 2012 and ...More Button

Was asked: her plans to [338]provide supports for transgender children; if she has met with the Department of Health on this matter. More Button

Was asked: her plans to provide supports for lesbian, gay and bisexual children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.More Button

It is not clear from the questions what supports are being referred to and responsibility for dealing with supports for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people is likely to fall to a nu...More Button

Was asked: the date on which the Health Service Executive will publish its external review of alternative care services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The HSE commissioned an independent consultant to undertake a review of the demand and existing capacity of alternative care placement services, including Special Care, High Support, Foster Care, R...More Button

Was asked: if she will expedite an application for childcare provision in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 under the community employment training scheme; and if she will make a statement o...More Button

My Department currently administers the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which provided funding to community not-for-profit childcare facilities to enable them charge reduced rates t...More Button

Was asked: when will the audit produced on foot of the recommendations in the report on the Roscommon Child Care case be published; the current primary community and continuing care areas where this audit has...More Button

An audit of neglect cases in Roscommon, Waterford and Dublin South-East has been completed by the HSE. In each area it was determined that a sample 30 cases would be reviewed. The HSE intends to ...More Button

Was asked: her plans to expand either community childcare subvention programme or other childcare supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

My Department currently administers three support programmes — the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme and the Early ...More Button

The Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme was introduced in September 2010. The CETS programme provides free childcare places in both community and commercial services to quali...More Button

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme provides one free preschool year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. Both community and commercial childc...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she has available to her Department the necessary resources to identify and protect children at risk; the extent of the positive effect of her office in respect of such children...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which she is satisfied regarding the adequacy of legislation, support and alert services to prevent all forms of child abuse including sexual abuse; and if she will make a statement o...More Button

I propose to take Question Nos. 445 and 450 together.More Button

The HSE has statutory responsibility for the provision of child welfare and protection services. My Department is working closely with the HSE to ensure that the priorities set out in the 2012 Nat...More Button

The creation of a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs was a commitment in the Programme for Government and sent out a very positive message in terms of how seriously the provision of...More Button

The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children provides greater clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and responding appropriately t...More Button

Was asked: the progress to date in 2012 in addressing issues arising from unemployment, educational dropout, social and economic deprivation and exclusion with particular reference to the need to put in place...More Button

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, improving children’s outcomes is my primary objective. Early childhood care and education programmes, in particular those that are aimed at low inc...More Button

My Department also supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services, including programmes for young people living in disadvantaged communities. In 2012, funding of €56.6...More Button

The National Educational Welfare Board, under the remit of my Department, as part of its responsibilities is charged with developing the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Li...More Button

My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of th...More Button

Written Answers - Children’s Rights Referendum

Was asked: if she will confirm that the referendum on children’s rights will be a stand alone referendum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the date on which she will hold the referendum on children’s rights; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 130 together.More Button

The Referendum on Children’s Rights is a Programme for Government priority. The Government is satisfied that the nature of this referendum is such that it will be conducted on a stand alone b...More Button

A draft wording of the proposed Constitutional amendment is being prepared by the Office of the Attorney General in co-operation with my Department and is focused on ensuring that this reflects th...More Button

The precise timing of the Referendum on children’s rights during 2012 will be determined in light of progress on the ongoing preparatory work and, as I have previously stated, it is the inten...More Button

Written Answers - Children’s Residential Centres Inspections

Was asked: the inspection regime and standards to which non-statutory private or voluntarily-run residential centres for children are subject; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

All children’s residential centres are inspected to ensure that the children living in the centre are receiving the care and protection that they require. The HSE registers and inspects non...More Button

The process of assessing standards of care in the centres is undertaken by a HSE monitoring officer visiting the centre and gathering information through interviews and meetings with the centre ma...More Button

Written Answers - Child and Family Support Agency

Was asked: if she will provide a progress update on the establishment of the new Child and Family Services Agency; if she will confirm if the agency is on track to be established on 1 January 2013; and if she...More Button

The commitment to establish a new Child and Family Support Agency is at the heart of the Government’s reform of child and family services. The establishment of a single agency, underpinned b...More Button

A comprehensive change programme is currently being implemented under the leadership of Gordon Jeyes, as National Director of Child and Family Services. The change programme is designed to signifi...More Button

I established a Task Force to advise my Department in regard to the necessary transition programme to establish a Child and Family Support Agency. The Task Force has undertaken a considerable body...More Button

As I have outlined, extensive work is underway in my Department, in the HSE, and through the Task Force I set up last September to prepare for the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agen...More Button

Was asked: if she has met with her ministerial counterparts in the North of Ireland to discuss the matter of joint co-operation in the work of the Child and Family Support Agency. More Button

Co-operation in the area of child welfare and protection services has been a feature of North/South engagement over the past number of years, and is reported on by respective Ministers to the regul...More Button

My most recent meeting with my counterpart Minister Edwin Poots took place on 2 February 2012 where we launched new protocols on cross border cooperation on child protection.More Button

The next North/South Ministerial meeting is currently scheduled to be held later this month, at which myself and Minister Edwin Poots will discuss proposals for co-operation across a number of addi...More Button

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has been kept informed by my Department of the planned establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency.More Button

Question No. 123 answered with Question No. 108.More Button

Was asked: the number and type of additional posts that will be created for the establishment of the new Child and Family Support Agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Approval was granted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the recruitment of a number of key posts to make up the management team for the new Agency. A recruitment process is und...More Button

Written Answers - Children and Young People’s Policy Framework

Was asked: if she plans to publish a new national youth justice strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Deputy will be aware that my Department is developing a new Children and Young Peoples Policy Framework. It will build on Our Children — Their Lives, Ireland’s first children...More Button

I can inform the Deputy that, within the context of this new Policy Framework, it is my intention, in collaboration with the Minister for Justice and Equality, arising from our respective responsib...More Button

Was asked: the date on which she will publish her national children and young people policy framework; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

My Department is developing a new strategy for children and young people. It will build on Our Children — Their Lives, Ireland’s first children’s strategy which was publish...More Button

The new children and young people’s policy framework is being developed in a holistic way to comprehend the continuum of the lifecourse from infancy, through early and middle childhood, to ad...More Button

The views of a wide range of interests including children themselves will shape the development of the children and young people’s policy framework over the next six months. It will be inform...More Button

A further public consultation will take place so that the new policy framework will be informed by the experience and expertise of other stakeholders in matters of interest to children and young pe...More Button

Written Answers - Adoption Legislation

Was asked: the date on which she will publish legislation regarding adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I, and officials of my Department, are continuing a substantial engagement with the Attorney General and her officials to progress the Government’s commitment to a referendum to amend the Co...More Button

In parallel with bringing forward the proposed constitutional change in favour of children’s right, there is a need to provide clarity around related proposals for legislative change regar...More Button

The Referendum on Children’s Rights is a Programme for Government priority. The Government is satisfied that the nature of this referendum is such that it will be a stand-alone matter, to all...More Button

Was asked: the progress made regarding legislation dealing with adoption. More Button

Considerable progress has been made in drafting the Heads of Bill for the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2012. The proposed legislation has been included in the legislative programme for ...More Button

Written Answers - Review Group on Child Deaths

Was asked: when she received the independent report into the deaths of children in the care of the State; the reason she has not moved to publish same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: when the report of the independent review group into the deaths of children in State care will be published; if any proposals are currently being drawn up by her to respond to this report; and if s...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 123 together.More Button

The final report of the Independent Review Group on Child Deaths was sent to my Department in March, 2012. In line with my long-stated intention to publish the report, it was referred to the Office...More Button

On the basis of the Attorney General’s advices I would hope to publish the report shortly, and to outline my response to the report and its recommendations.More Button

Written Answers - Missing Children’s Hotline

Was asked: if she plans to allocate funding to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for the operation of the 116000 number if the ISPCA fails to secure funding from the European Commiss...More Button

Under EU telecoms rules agreed in 2009, the 116000 number is reserved in all EU member states for a missing children hotline. My Department established and is leading a cross-sectoral Project Team,...More Button

The position is that Comreg, who have responsibility for allocation of this number in Ireland, received an application to operate the Hotline from the ISPCC. Following cross departmental consultat...More Button

In the coming months the Project Team will be working to ensure that the Hotline becomes operational in a timely manner and operates in a way that supports and augments existing arrangements to sec...More Button

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 97.More Button

Written Answers - Child Protection

Was asked: when she received the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and the reason she has not published same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection was received by my Department on the 7th of February this year. The report has been distributed to relevant Ministerial colleagues for obser...More Button

Was asked: the number of children currently deemed to be at risk arising from homelessness, family disputes, addiction or other causes; if she is satisfied regarding the adequacy of resources available to her...More Button

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy with the most up-to-date information.More Button

Question No. 448 answered with Question No. 443.More Button

Was asked: the steps she has taken and continues to take to ensure the protection of children from sex offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

There are a range of legislative and policy provisions in place to protect children from sex offenders. A number of these, such as the Sex Offenders Register and the forthcoming National Vetting Bu...More Button

As regards the Children and Family Services of the Health Service Executive, under the Child Care Act 1991 an assessment of risk will be carried out by child protection social workers in all instan...More Button

The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and respon...More Button

While draft heads of the Bill have been prepared, they will only be finalised once the Committee has concluded its deliberations. Under the proposed legislation organisations will be charged with e...More Button

In addition, vetting of staff working with children is in place and being expanded across a range of sectors in advance of the forthcoming legislation being advanced by my colleague the Minister fo...More Button

Written Answers - Child Abuse Prevention Training

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the European Economic and Social Committee made a recommendation in 2006, SOC/412, that child sexual abuse prevention training should be mandatory f...More Button

I am aware of the Committee recommendation referred to by the Deputy.More Button

The revised Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, published in 2011, provides greater clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying an...More Button

With the publication of the revised Guidance, staff within the HSE have been required to attend briefing sessions to ensure that they know their responsibilities. The HSE’s one day Children F...More Button

In addition, the HSE and An Garda Siochana work collaboratively to ensure that the statutory authorities provide a clear standard understanding of their roles and functions. The HSE and An Garda Si...More Button

The Government has committed, as a priority, to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First and the Heads of the Bill have been prepared and submitted to the Committee for Health and...More Button

Written Answers - Services for Children with Disabilities

Was asked: in view of the difficulties facing parents in obtaining State supports for children with intellectual and [330]or physical disabilities, if she is satisfied that the rig...More Button

While my Department has a role in working to harmonise a range of policies that impact on the lives of children, it does not have a function in relation to the provision of services or supports for...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Vetting of Personnel

Was asked: the number of persons employed to work directly with children by the Health Service Executive who are still waiting for Garda vetting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Garda Vetting Liaison Office was established in the HSE in late 2007. Since that time, all employees recruited through the HSE National Recruitment Service are Garda vetted.More Button

The issue of retrospective vetting of employees will be addressed in the context of the forthcoming National Vetting Bureau legislation, currently being prepared by the colleague the Minister for J...More Button

Written Answers - Social Work Staff

Was asked: the number of social workers that have retired since 1 January 2012; the number of these posts which have been replaced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The latest information available from the HSE indicates that 45 HSE employees that are classified within the social work grades across all care groups have retired since the 1st January 2012. It sh...More Button

Was asked: if she has replaced the 31 social worker staff that retired in February 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The latest information from the HSE indicates that 31 social work staff in the children and families care group availed of the early retirement scheme. The HSE is actively reviewing the impact of ...More Button

The HSE has informed me that it has approved the recruitment of 48 replacement social work staff across all care groups since February 2012. These posts are at various stages of recruitment.More Button

Was asked: her plans to adequately resource social workers and ensure that they have manageable case loads in the context of forthcoming changes to the child protection regime. More Button

The Government has made additional budgeting provision of €19m for child welfare and protection services compared to the funding made available last year. This compares to a reduction of &eur...More Button

My Department will continue to work closely with the HSE throughout the year to ensure that the priorities set out in the HSE National Service Plan are implemented where they relate to children and...More Button

As regards caseloads, the HSE through a document titled “The Induction of Social Workers: A Policy and Guidelines for Children and Families Social Services” provided guidance on the management of c...More Button

As part of the ongoing reform process, a methodology for workload management for all social work staff is also being developed.More Button

Written Answers - Child Poverty

Was asked: if she has met with, or plans to meet, the Department of Finance to urge it to ensure that children’s rights are protected in the forthcoming budget and to place ending child poverty as a goa...More Button

Tackling child poverty is a priority for Government and a goal of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007- 2016, coordinated by the Department of Social Protection. Children are more lik...More Button

My Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection in a ‘whole of Government approach’ to tackling poverty in the population. The Department is represented on the Advisory G...More Button

My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of th...More Button

Under the new performance accounting arrangements, work is already under way at official level on the Estimates process for 2013. I have also met with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expendi...More Button

Written Answers - Juvenile Offenders

Was asked: the arrangements in place for the transfer of children still in St. Patrick’s Institution, Dublin, to another more suitable location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if she will provide an update on developments regarding juvenile detention policy and facilities. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 136 together.More Button

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to end the practice of sending children to St Patrick’s Institution. This is the central principle of current policy in the area of juvenil...More Button

On the same date, I also announced a number of interim measures to be carried out in advance of the Oberstown project. These measures included the following:More Button

With these measures, good progress is being made on Government policy in the area of juvenile detention and facilities.More Button

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 119.More Button

Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 113.More Button

Written Answers - Legislative Programme

Was asked: if she has met with the Department of Social Protection to discuss the impact that the Social Welfare Bill will have on children and young persons. More Button

I meet my Government colleagues regularly, both collectively and also bilaterally on specific shared issues. I met with Minister Burton only last week to discuss a number of issues relating to the...More Button

Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 124.More Button

Was asked: the number and description of any regulatory impact assessments that have been undertaken by her Department on legislation or proposed legislation since 9 March 2011; the stage in the legislative /...More Button

I have an extensive legislative programme to address issues which are within my remit as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Regulatory impact analysis will be conducted at the appropriate tim...More Button

The Children First Bill, which has been referred to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for consideration, will be submitted to Government in due course for approval to draft the legisl...More Button

My Department is also working on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill. The initial Heads of Bill have been drafted and policy issues currently under consideration will inform the regulatory ...More Button

The Child and Family Support Agency Bill will provide for the establishment of the new Child and Family Support Agency which will be responsible for the delivery of services in the areas of child w...More Button

The Children (Amendment) Bill will provide for the amalgamation of the children detention schools in the interests of cost/administrative efficiencies and the public interest. My Department is curr...More Button

Written Answers - Ombudsman for Children

Was asked: if she will consider expanding the role of the Ombudsman for Children to allow for the ombudsman to take complaints from those up to age 21 years as her Northern counterpart does; and if she will m...More Button

The Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 defines a “child” as a person under the age of 18 years. The remit of the Ombudsman for Children is defined accordingly. I am aware that the Northern Ireland Com...More Button

My Department is current reviewing the Ombudsman for Children’s Report with a view to identifying appropriate future changes.More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff

Was asked: the extent to which she has secured adequate resources, including legislative and administrative provision, in regard to the achievement of her priorities for her Department; and if she will make a...More Button

My Department is currently engaged in a Workforce Planning exercise to compare our current workforce with future workforce requirement relative to the delivery of commitments under the Programme fo...More Button

As part of this process, specific skills in the area of legal, financial, research, economic, change management and human resources have already been identified as requiring development. Officials ...More Button

Written Answers - Family Support Services

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of management committees and staff of Family Resource Centres in Donegal about the impact of cuts to their annual budgets at a time when the demand o...More Button

The Family Support Agency, under my Department, operates the Family Resource Centre Programme. The aim of the Family Resource Centre Programme is to combat disadvantage and improve the functioning...More Button

On 5th December 2011, the Government announced the funding levels being made available to my Department in 2012. As part of the national effort to address Ireland’s fiscal deficit, the Family...More Button

The Family Support Agency has advised that family resource centres should work with the two regional support agencies that provide support and training to them and are available to provide guidance...More Button

Written Answers - Foreign Adoptions

Was asked: when she expects the report from the Adoption Authority regarding adoptions from Ethiopia; if she has a timetable from when she receives the report to when a bilateral report will be concluded betw...More Button

Adoptions from Ethiopia, effected under the transitional arrangements provided for in the Adoption Act 2010, are ongoing and are currently being examined, and recognised, by the Adoption Authority ...More Button

Ethiopia is not a signatory of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. In these circumstances, adoptions from Ethiopia which are not cov...More Button

A delegation from the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) visited Ethiopia in April and held exploratory meetings with the Ethiopian authorities regarding the system of adoption which operates in t...More Button

Was asked: the [475]total number of inter country adoptions registered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland in 2011. More Button

The Adoption Authority of Ireland registered 219 intercountry adoptions in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions in the year 2011.More Button

Written Answers - Appointments to State Boards

Was asked: the appointments made by her to State boards under the remit of her Department since March 2011 that were advertised. More Button

I would like to inform the Deputy that the position in respect of public bodies under the auspices of my Department is that there are four agencies funded by the Exchequer through my Department&rsq...More Button

In relation to the NEWB, I have made five appointments to the Board since my appointment as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Mr. Brendan Broderick was appointed based on a nomination of th...More Button

In relation to the FSA, there have been 11 members appointed to the Board since my appointment as Minister, namely Sharon Foley, Dick Hickey, Catherine Hazlett , Marie Fenlon, Yvette O’Malle...More Button

I have made one appointment to the Board of the AAI since my appointment. Imelda Ryan was appointed in February, 2012.More Button

In relation to the Board of Management for the Children Detention Schools I have made 11 appointments, effective from 26 March, 2012, namely Joe Horan, Dan Kelleher, Gerard McKiernan, Ursula Kilkel...More Button

There is no Board for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.More Button

In line with the Government policy in relation to appointments to State boards, on my Department’s website I have invited expressions of interest from persons interested in being appointed to...More Button

Written Answers - Adoption Statistics

Was asked: the total number of adoptions registered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland to adopters who were issued with their declaration of eligibility and suitability after 1 November 2010. More Button

Since 1 November 2010, the Adoption Authority of Ireland has registered one intercountry adoption in respect of applicants who received new Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability under ...More Button

Was asked: the total number of adoptions registered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland since its establishment on 1 October 2010 to adopters who were issued with their declaration of eligibility and suitabi...More Button

The Adoption Authority of Ireland was established on 1 November 2010.More Button

The Authority has registered 280 adoptions in relation to declarations of eligibility and suitability which were issued prior to the establishment date of the Authority.More Button

Written Answers -

Was asked: if adequate counselling services are available for children and teenagers with particular reference to those deemed to be at high risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Funding provided by my Department provides support to youth services which also offer a range of counselling supports to young people. Included in this is funding provided to a Teen Counselling se...More Button

Teen Counselling aims to provide a professional counselling service for young people and their families who are struggling with behavioural and emotional difficulties and to inform, support and com...More Button

The aim of the programme is to provide a broad-based, flexible health promotion / education support and training service to youth organisations and to all those working with young people in out-of-...More Button

The Family Support Agency under the remit of my Department administers a programme of grants for voluntary organisations that provide marriage and relationships, child and bereavement counselling s...More Button

The Health Service Executive also provides counselling services to young people and I have asked the HSE to provide information on this to the Deputy.More Button

Written Answers - Children in Care

Was asked: the total number of children in care in each of the past three years to date in 2012; the extent and nature of support available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Under the Child Care Act, 1991 the Health Service Executive (HSE) has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. If a child is in need o...More Button

Where a child is coming into care they are allocated a social worker who undertakes a full assessment of need and on this basis a statutory care plan is developed. This assessment will call on a fu...More Button

The Health Service Executive (HSE) compiles and publishes monthly performance reports which include statistics in relation to children in care. The HSE reported the following information regarding...More Button

Question No. 450 answered with Question No. 445.More Button

Written Answers - Child Abuse

Was asked: the number of reports of child abuse including child sexual abuse brought to the attention of her Department or its predecessor with responsibility in the area in each of the past four years to dat...More Button

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy with the most up-to-date information.More Button