Written Answers. - Family Support Services.

Michael Ring


728 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will set up a family resource centre in a particular area of a town (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the number of local authority houses and children located there. [19333/00]

My Department operates a number of community development support programmes, namely; the community development programme; the family and community services resource centre programme; the programme of funding to locally based community and family support groups.

The purpose of the above mentioned programmes is to provide seed money to enable community groups to pilot initiatives identified as meeting new and emerging needs. More specifically the aim of the family and community services resource centre programme is to help combat disadvantage by improving the functioning of the family unit.

Centres can provide special services for lone parent families, young mothers and others considered in need of extra support and can act as a first step to community participation and social inclusion for the most vulnerable and marginalised families.

In 1994, to mark the International Year of the Family, an allocation of £250,000 was made available to my Department to fund ten family resource centres on a pilot basis. The decision was motivated by the perception of a possible gap in statutory support for community development activities focused on support for families and tackling child poverty.

An evaluation of the work of these centres was published in 1997, a key recommendation of which was that funding of these centres should be mainstreamed by my Department. The Com mission on the Family in their final report recommended that a network of 100 family resource centres be established in the ensuing 4 to 5 years. Taking into account the outcome of the review, and the recommendations of the Commission on the Family, additional funding of £700,000 was allocated in 1998 to allow the expansion of the programme by some 25 centres. A total sum of £2.13 million was allocated to the programme in 1999 to allow for the expansion of the programme by some 20 centres and a further £2.939 million has been made available in 2000 to allow for the expansion of the Programme by some 15 centres.
To date, some 67 centres are in receipt of funding or approved in principle for inclusion in the programme.
Under Partnership 2000 my Department was committed to identifying 30 new priority areas for funding under the community development programme. Research was undertaken to identify the most disadvantaged areas and as a result I approved the inclusion of some 40 new areas in the Community Development Programme. In addition the research identified some 24 priority areas, including Westport town for inclusion in the family and community services resource centre programme and I subsequently approved the area for inclusion in the programme.
The Regional Support Agency, West Training and Development, which operates under the community development support programmes is currently undertaking the necessary pre-development work to establish a new centre in Westport. Its brief is to establish a representative voluntary management committee to assume responsibility for the management of the project and to determine a suitable location for the centre. This decision will be made in consultation with the relevant communities in Westport and with reference to available amenities-facilities in the areas concerned. The community indicated in the Deputy's question are engaged in consultations with the Regional Support Agency in this regard.