Other Questions

Out of Hours Services

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

6 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to expand the pilot out-of-hours social work service currently being tested in two locations as provided for in the implementation plan published following the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. [32517/11]

The HSE provides out of hours emergency services for children who are at risk. The service is provided in the greater Dublin area through the crisis intervention service and outside the greater Dublin area through the emergency place of safety service. The crisis intervention service provides an out of hours emergency social work service to young people under the age of 18 who are in crisis. The service operates across the greater Dublin area in counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. Referrals are made by service providers, such as gardaí, hospital and ambulance service personnel, outside normal working hours. The HSE operates the emergency place of safety service outside the greater Dublin area. Under this service, gardaí can access emergency placements for children who are found to be at risk out of hours. This service involves the out of hours placement of a child in a family setting until the next working day, when the local social work service assumes responsibility for the case. As part of this service, gardaí have access to advice and information from a non-HSE off-site social work resource, which is provided on a contract basis. I recently met Garda officials to discuss how this service is working.

The HSE national service plan for 2011 includes a commitment to evaluate a pilot out of hours social work component to supplement the emergency place of safety service. The two pilot projects that are being undertaken are in Cork and in Donegal. The projects involve the provision by local HSE staff of on-call social work support out of hours, when that is deemed necessary by gardaí. Both of the pilot projects have commenced. I have received preliminary reports on how the out of hours service is working. I have to say there has not been a huge demand on the service. I emphasise that the report is a preliminary one. Obviously, it is important that the service is in place. The HSE has established a national oversight group to monitor the progress of the pilot projects. It is hoped a decision on progression to a national roll-out will be made in 2011, following evaluation of the two pilot projects. Progress is being made in this area. The two pilot projects are in operation. Preliminary reports have been received in each case. The reports will be examined by the new oversight group the HSE has established. The next step will be the roll-out of a national service, having learnt lessons from the two pilot projects.

Will the Minister outline her expectations with regard to moving from the two pilot projects to the State-wide roll-out? Does she envisage it will happen in the short term? How quickly does she expect such a situation will be arrived at? What has she deduced from the information that has been received to date? Has anything been recommended in the preliminary reports? If so, could any of the recommendations be adopted now? Is the Minister proposing to wait until the process has been completed and all the information is to hand? Can anything be learned from what has already been reported? If so, can it be addressed or implemented in the short term in a manner that would make the required difference? As the Minister has said, the pilot out of hours social work service is being tested in two locations. Is she considering extending the pilot project to other testing locations within the jurisdiction on an interim basis in advance of the State-wide roll-out?

This has been spoken about for a long time, as the Deputy knows. We have received some elementary information from the two pilot projects. We have the beginning of an assessment of how they are operating. I need to wait until I hear back from the HSE oversight group on the recommendations before I decide how quickly we can move to a national roll-out. Obviously, there will be resource implications. One of the key lessons we have learned from the pilot projects that are taking place is that there needs to be a greater engagement between gardaí and HSE social workers. Gardaí need to be aware of the services in these areas and need to be able to use them. When I met representatives of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors to discuss some of these issues earlier in the year, they were keen for this service to be rolled out. It is not satisfactory that the Garda has to respond out of hours in order to look after these children. The kind of ideas that are coming forward relate, for example, to the development of a roster of on-call managers who would make themselves available to the Garda for consultation. More of them should be available to gardaí when they are doing this work. I take the Deputy's point that we could begin to implement the lessons that are being learned from the pilot projects. I will ask the HSE to consider ensuring the implementation is not left until after the nationwide roll-out of the whole system. If lessons can be learned from the two pilot projects and incorporated very quickly, I will try to ensure that happens.

The Minister indicated in her initial reply that the accessing of the out of hours service in the two pilot project areas has not been extensive. Is that the case? I ask the Minister not to allow the early indications that the take-up is not significant to dissuade her from her commitment to ensuring this is rolled out across the board. Regardless of the statistics, the crucial point is that the service is in place. When an out of hours emergency presents itself, people should know that the service is available and can be accessed. Have we examined international best practice to inform our own intent in terms of this roll-out?

While I do not have detailed figures, I am advised that activity has not been significant to date. I accept the Deputy's point that we should not over-rely on the take-up to date as one would expect it to be low given that it will take some time for the relevant or appropriate information to file down to those who need it and for the Garda to become more aware of the service. The fact that social work personnel can be available by telephone for consultation and advice and to share information has been well received by senior Garda who regard it as a positive and beneficial development. We will learn from the two pilot schemes and I will heed the Deputy's warning that we should not assume there is a lack of demand. We have figures showing how many children nationally present out of hours to the authorities.

I commend the Health Service Executive on its work on the pilot scheme in County Donegal. Feedback from staff indicates it has been a positive experience. Given her background, the Minister will be aware that emergency cases do not always occur during office hours. It is critical, therefore, that we have an out-of-hours service. Will the Minister make available to Opposition spokespersons the preliminary reports from the two pilot schemes?

The reports outline the latest position and plans for the future. I would be pleased to correspond with both Deputies on the information available to me and plans for the future in counties Donegal and Cork.

Missing Children Hotline

Seamus Kirk

Question:

7 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the discussions she has had with other Government Departments regarding the establishment of the missing children’s hotline; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32480/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

34 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has established the project group on the missing children hotline yet; the position regarding their work; and the date on which they will conclude their work. [32505/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 34 together.

Under EU telecoms rules agreed in 2009, the 116000 number is reserved in all EU member states for a missing children hotline. In a debate on this issue in Seanad Éireann on 12 October last I gave a commitment to work with relevant Departments and agencies to establish the hotline in Ireland in 2012. I also announced my intention to establish a cross-sectoral project team to include representatives of my Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, ComReg and the Garda Síochána. The final nominee to the project team is expected shortly and the team will then be in a position to commence its work.

This team will examine how best to operate the hotline in the context of the demand for the service and establish the extent to which services, including Garda and victim support services, which are in existence and receive Government funding, can be mobilised to meet Ireland's commitments regarding the hotline. In seeking to make progress on this issue, my Department has had discussions with the Departments of Justice and Equality and Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, as well as ComReg. Further discussions will be held in the context of the meetings of the project team.

I emphasise that the investigation of a child's disappearance is the responsibility of the Garda. Its structures in this regard include not only the local gardaí, who will have primary responsibility for the investigation, but also the missing persons bureau. It is of paramount importance that any arrangements which are put in place to establish the 116000 hotline do not compromise the requirement that the first and most important contact to be made is to notify the Garda of the fact that a child is missing in order that an investigation can commence without delay. The implementation of a dedicated missing children hotline is intended to provide a further level of support in such circumstances.

The missing children hotline is operational in 15 European Union member states and the European Commission is considering the possibility of introducing sanctions against member states which have not yet introduced the service. In Belgium the system was first run by a local group, Child Focus, which received 50% state funding and 50% private funding as well as further Government assistance towards establishing the service. Part of the problem with the ComReg advertisements is that no one has been in a position to come forward and operate the hotline here. What plans does the Minister have to provide assistance, if required, to get the hotline operational? Is it her intention to take primary responsibility for ensuring it becomes operational?

I have done so already by establishing the project team. I want the missing children hotline to be progressed. I am pleased to note that the incidence of children who go missing in Ireland is low and has fallen significantly in recent years. Statistics provided by the Garda Síochána indicate there are five open cases of children who went missing in this country in 2010. While even one missing child is one too many, some achievements have been made in this area and there is certainly much better co-ordination between the Garda and Health Service Executive. All instances of missing children should be reported immediately to the Garda Síochána, which has primary responsibility in this area.

On the issue of resources, these are challenging times financially. Various costings have been done on providing a hotline service, including some calculations made by non-governmental organisations. The figures vary significantly and one of the first tasks I will assign the project group is to investigate the precise potential costs and how they could be met. A variety of sources could be investigated. While the Department will clearly try to provide some support for the establishment of the hotline, we must examine the most economically efficient way to provide the service. We also need to consider what current services, including services provided by the Garda, could accommodate the hotline service. All these matters will be examined.

As I noted, the project team will meet shortly and we have assembled the relevant people with an interest in this area who will be able to make a contribution to establishing the hotline. I want to see progress made on the matter in the coming year.

Will the Minister indicate how soon she expects the project group to have its inaugural meeting? Is she in a position to advise the House of the make-up of the group? Is it cross-departmental in nature and does it include representatives of external non-governmental organisations which have an interest in this area? Given the wide range of best practice and information internationally from which we can draw, I appeal to the Minister to ensure this does not become a foot-dragging exercise. It is crucial that the 116000 number is established in this country. Will the Minister provide a timeframe or deadline within which the project group will complete its work in order that the outcome of its deliberations is available, hopefully in the coming year?

I understand we were waiting for the last person to be appointed to the project group and an appointment was made in recent days. The work will be short-term in nature. I do not envisage it will continue for a long period and expect the project team will pull the relevant information together and make a recommendation within a couple of months. It is then a question of examining costing and ensuring the costs can be met. The group is primarily cross-departmental but also has representatives of ComReg and the Garda. It will consult other organisations.

Child Abuse

John Browne

Question:

8 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the details of any analysis she has carried out in relation to the resource implications of the introduction of a mandatory reporting policy for the reporting of child abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32471/11]

Michael Moynihan

Question:

11 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the organisations with whom she has held discussions since taking office on the subject of introducing mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32488/11]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

14 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the children first guidelines will be put on a statutory footing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32528/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 11 and 14 together.

In July 2011, I launched the revised Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The guidance deals with the recognition, reporting and management of child safety concerns. It emphasises the need to safeguard and protect children and stresses that the safety and welfare of children is everyone's responsibility and children will have safer lives where everyone is attentive to their well being. People who work with children across a range of areas must be clear in understanding their responsibility for safe practice and the reporting of concerns. The guidance sets out specific protocols for HSE social workers, gardaí and other front line staff in dealing with suspected abuse. The scope of Children First extends beyond the reporting of suspected abuse. It emphasises the importance of multidisciplinary, inter-agency working in the management of such concerns. Key to this is the sharing of information between agencies and disciplines in the best interests of children and the need for full co-operation to ensure better outcomes.

There is an acknowledged need for greater consistency in the implementation of the Children First guidance across all sectors and organisations working with children. This was highlighted by the Ryan commission which recommended that Children First should be uniformly and consistently implemented throughout the State.

In recognition of this and following publication of the guidelines, an interdepartmental committee was established to oversee the implementation of Children First across all sectors. The committee is chaired by my Department and a meeting I attended recently included representatives from the various Departments involved in the provision of services to children.

It is important we have this cross-departmental group working so that those involved can ensure in each of their areas of responsibility that the agencies under their remit are carrying out the work envisaged in the child protection handbook and in Children First. For example, the Department with responsibility for sport can work with the Sports Council and with the various clubs, such as the GAA and others, who are doing an excellent job with regard to the implementation of Children First. Arrangements are also in place between the HSE and the Garda Síochána to monitor the implementation of Children First across the two statutory agencies which have specific responsibilities to assess and investigate child protection and welfare concerns.

We have also committed, as a priority, to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First. I am in the process of developing detailed policy proposals in this regard which I will bring to Government. I expect to do this in the coming months. Consideration will be also given, in conjunction with the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, to having the heads of the Bill considered at that committee. I look forward to the committee's response to that. It is my intention that the legislation will reflect a broad based approach to compliance, with obligations extending beyond reporting to one of safeguarding children at risk. The objective will be to ensure the greater protection of children by strengthening the existing system for reporting and responding to suspected child abuse.

It must be emphasised in this context that Children First is already well established among those delivering services to children and there are already in place very significant resources to support the implementation of Children First, which was first introduced in 1999. In the case of the HSE and An Garda Síochána, the two statutory agencies with particular responsibilities for the assessment and investigation of child welfare and protection concerns, Children First forms an integral part of their existing operations and practices. I have been very impressed by the training being done by the Garda and within the HSE with regard to the roll-out of Children First. The new child welfare and protection practice handbook has been given to all staff and training has begun. I attended four regional meetings around the country where representatives of An Garda Síochána and the HSE participated and discussed the ongoing implementation of Children First.

We have already discussed here the additional resources being provided to the HSE, including an increase of 200 last year in the number of social workers in the child welfare and protection area. I already mentioned today the additional 60 social workers who will be in place by the end of this year. The recruitment of these additional social workers was included in the Ryan report implementation plan, as was the commitment to place the Children First guidelines on a statutory basis. This additional resource will be of particular assistance to the HSE in driving forward the implementation of Children First.

Since taking up office, I have had discussions right across the country with organisations and staff working in the child protection area and I have signalled the Government's intentions with regard to the safeguarding of children, including the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First. I visited each of the four HSE regions and met with frontline staff, the gardaí and representatives from other sectors and had the opportunity to hear at first hand the views of the key stakeholders. The response with regard to the Government's intentions was very positive and informative. I will continue to consult widely. We will have the opportunity to discuss the legislation in committee and I will work with the other Departments, the relevant professional regulatory bodies and other relevant agencies as the legislation is developed. The legislation will reflect what has been in the guidance over the past ten years. It is not simply about reporting, as happened in other countries, but it is also about working together, sharing information and inter-agency co-operation. This is essential if we intend to support and protect children and families.

Fianna Fáil fully supports the Minister's efforts with regard to putting Children First on a statutory footing and ensuring that through mandatory reporting everything is reported so that child protection is our first priority and at the top of the agenda. Question No. 8 asked about the analysis done with regard to resource implications of the introduction of mandatory reporting. The Minister said the taskforce that has been established has been asked to assess how resources will be assigned. Was an advance assessment carried out by the Department with regard to the implications of a mandatory reporting system that would have penalties in place for not reporting? International experience has shown this increases the strain on the system. We know there is already massive strain on the system and this would lead to a real danger of problems falling through the cracks and children being endangered.

Comments made by Gordon Jeyes, the director of child and family services, and by Geoffrey Shannon following the Minister's announcement refer to the need to take this process step by step and suggest the Minister should not introduce policies that do not have the resource base to ensure reports we receive are acted upon and the resources are there to deal with them. When will the heads of the Bill come before the committee? The Minister indicated it would be in the spring. Is that when she expects it?

Detailed work is being done on the heads of the Bill currently and it is a priority for me to have the legislation as soon as possible. I expect it will go to the committee in the next session and I hope to be in a position to bring a memo to Government before December on the legislation. It is a priority for my Department. The legislation is complex. I have met with many groups to discuss it and have had contact with or will meet the various organisations involved, such as the Teaching Council, the Medical Council, the Health and Social Care Professionals Council and others. I already have been in contact with them and asked them for their views.

On the question of an analysis of resources, as Gordon Jeyes has often said, Children First is effectively mandatory at this time. While it is not underpinned by legislation, it is mandatory. If professionals working with children think a child is being abused or have reason to be concerned, in good faith they must report that. The best analysis in terms of resources is what we are doing currently. We are examining the current state of child protection in the country. I asked for an audit in August when there were reports of various social work teams under pressure and I am very concerned by some of the information I have received from that audit. I have gone back and asked for further analysis to be done by the HSE because what has emerged — I have mentioned this on a number of occasions — is that the quality of the data is extremely problematic. It does not allow for analysis or comparison between areas and different meanings are being taken by different social work teams with regard to a number of cases awaiting allocation or allocated.

I am surprised this work has not been done in the past and it is essential it is done now. This came up already in my discussion with Deputy Ó Caoláin with regard to after care services and statistics. The information I am getting with regard to child and family services in the HSE illustrates in many ways the problems of this service being part of a big organisation like the HSE as opposed to being part of dedicated agency where the issues would be dealt with and where there would be proper management, governance and budgeting. These are serious issues. The best I can do for children is to ensure that when we have this legislation on a statutory basis, social workers will be able to meet the needs that come to their teams. I can best do this by analysing the current situation, ensuring there is an appropriate budget and being clear on what we are talking about when talking about child protection across the country.

The Children First guidelines were first published in 1999, 12 years ago, yet they are still not on a statutory footing. That understandably leads people to be anxious about the commitment of the Government to put them on a statutory footing. Notwithstanding the commitments the Minister is making about them being effectively implemented in many areas, the whole point of putting them on a statutory footing is that the State and its agencies are held legally accountable for ensuring that children are put first. In that context, the delay is worrying.

The State has failed abused children. We have a very high level of child poverty, as recent figures have indicated. Faced with an austerity budget in December which may impact on precisely the resources and supports that exist for children, is the delay in introducing the Children First guidelines after the budget due to the Government's intention to make cuts which will impact on our ability to put children first? Is the Minister going to be child proofing the budget? Will this be part of the budgetary process? The implementation of the Children First guidelines will be a key criterion and parameter over which the Government's budgetary constraints and need for austerity will not be allowed to pass. Will this be a red line? Will any cuts that impact negatively on children be offside?

I note the Deputy's commitment in this area. People have talked for years about putting this legislation on a statutory basis. The Ryan implementation report, which was published in 2009, called for it. I brought a memo to the Government and got agreement that this legislation would be on a statutory basis. I am the first Minister who has done that. I have started working on the legislation. The work is advancing but it is complex.

I got agreement from the Government so that Children First would be put on a statutory basis. It is on the A list for legislation this term. I intend to have the heads of the Bill before the end of the year and to send it to committee in January. It is not being delayed for any other reason. The work is progressing and this legislation is being developed.

The Minister will have noted the commentary in a number of publications by people who are not opposed to the idea of putting Children First on a statutory footing and introducing mandatory reporting. Nevertheless, they are profits of doom and gloom about this in respect of resourcing and the competency of the system to cope in a new situation. Is the Minister using the little time left to exercise herself on the Department's interest and the importance of highlighting to her Cabinet colleagues the critical funding that will be necessary to support the resourcing of the implementation of these measures? We need to give an answer to some of those voices. Some of the commentary is very foreboding and is unhelpful to the Minister's intent, which we support.

All I can say is that there is an extraordinarily difficult financial situation, which impacts on all Departments. People working with children and family support services are clearly aware of this, as is the director working with the front-line social workers. A serious analysis on the pressures of the system is being carried out at the moment. Work is being done to ensure we understand the system comprehensively across the country. It is not helped by the fact that the budget last year was left €16 million short, if not a lot more. One area alone in the HSE had a €27 million overrun last year in respect of children's services, which was effectively absorbed in the HSE overall budget. Separating the child and family services budget from the HSE budget for next year is a very challenging task, and we must ensure that we have the type of budget that can meet the demands.

There is no doubt that prioritisation will be necessary, because the demand on the services is such that it will be necessary for social work teams to prioritise the kind of work they are doing and the work they cannot cope with. They will have to assess risk and in most cases where they cannot provide a service that is deemed less a priority, they will have to ensure that other services are brought in to work with those families. That work is underway.

Health Service Staff

Billy Kelleher

Question:

9 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on the social workers recruitment embargo and the impact it may have on the implementation of the recommendations in the Ryan report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26267/11]

The implementation plan published on foot of the Ryan report committed to the recruitment of an additional 270 social workers. The first 200 of these posts were filled last year. The HSE national service plan includes financial provision of €3.8 million for the recruitment of a further 60 social workers this year. I have been assured by the HSE that it plans to have the 60 additional staff in place by the end of December.

This question is effectively a repeat of a priority question tabled earlier by Deputy McConalogue.

Has the Deputy a supplementary question?

It will allow me more time to deal with the issue, because we were short the last time.

In her earlier response, the Minister mentioned that as of 31 December 2011, there were 2,429 social workers employed in the HSE, and that four of the additional 60 to be recruited this year have been recruited so far. I put down a question the last day which specifically asked for the number of social workers in the HSE at 1 January 2011. She indicated to me before that 200 additional social workers had been employed last years and positions back filled. Can she provide the number of social workers employed on 1 January 2011?

I will supply that figure to the Deputy. I have with me the figure for 31 September 2011, which was 2,429. Certain social work teams are under pressure. Every effort is being made to keep the compliment of social workers as high as possible. The 200 social workers promised in the Ryan report have been recruited. I have been assured that a further 60 will be recruited by the end of the year, and I will have funding for a further ten, which brings the number of social workers recruited to 270.

I think the point the Deputy is making is that the social work system is under pressure in various HSE areas. I have to agree with him. Over 25,000 cases have been referred this year, and that number is likely to go up. There are pressures on the system due to younger children coming into care where drugs and alcohol are an issue. There are 6,000 children in care. Clearly there are teams coping with a lot of pressures, and that is why I have spoken about the need for management and prioritisation of the cases that are being referred.

The figure for 1 January is critical if we are to assess where we are at the moment. There is no doubt that social workers are the bedrock of our child protection systems and our child services. They are under pressure because only four extra social workers have been recruited up to this point. Staff on maternity leave and temporary posts are not being refilled, which is putting massive pressure on the system. That is what is happening at the moment. What is the current set-up for maternity posts in social work teams and the replacement of temporary posts?

As the Deputy knows, there has been a recruitment pause in the HSE and maternity posts are not being filled, which is having an impact. In that context, the recruitment of 270 social workers who have been exempted from the moratorium is important for child protection work, as recommended by the Ryan report. It is quite an achievement on the part of the HSE to have delivered 200 social workers, with 60 to be in place by the end of December and a further ten in January.

There is undoubtedly pressure in the system. I do not think a proper analysis has been done in the past of the number of cases and the required number of social workers; neither has proper management taken place with regard to data collection, as I have made clear this afternoon.

Adoption Services

David Stanton

Question:

10 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the requirements which agencies must meet to become accredited as adoption agencies; the number of applications from such agencies currently awaiting accreditation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32469/11]

Following the commencement of the Adoption Act 2010 on 1 November 2010, adoption in Ireland is now regulated by the Adoption Authority of Ireland, which is an independent quasi-judicial statutory body appointed by the Government. The functions of the authority, which are set out in section 96 of the Adoption Act, include functions of an operational, judicial and quasi-judicial nature with regard to the adoption process itself as provided for under the Act and relating to the authority's designation as the central authority for the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

Under the Adoption Act 2010, the accreditation of agencies providing adoption services is a matter for the Adoption Authority. Its functions include registration, regulatory and standard setting functions in respect of all agencies providing adoption services in accordance with Part 13 of the Act and the relevant regulations. The authority is obliged to fully satisfy itself of the fitness of any persons or body of persons to provide and undertake adoption services.

SI 524 of 2010, Adoption Act 2010 (Accredited Bodies) Regulations 2010, outlines the requirements for the registration of accredited agencies, including structure, reporting requirements and the role of the Adoption Authority. I am advised by the Adoption Authority that to date the authority has registered 12 organisations and a further six organisations are awaiting a decision on accreditation. The authority posts notifications of the accreditation of agencies on its website, www.aai.gov.ie, once the entry in the register of accredited bodies has taken place.

The Helping Hands agency in Cork has been seeking accreditation for more than a year now and is making no progress. Will the Minister look into the matter and see what can be done to assist? If there is a problem there, could she ensure the problem is sorted and the relevant information is given to the agency so it can be accredited? There is also an issue with funding for the agency. It is not receiving funding at present, and this is probably linked to the fact that it is not accredited. There is a blockage there, on which I would like the Minister's assistance.

We are running out of time, but I will allow the Minister to respond briefly. If she would like to give a more detailed response she may do so at another time.

Stringent requirements must be met for the accreditation of adoption agencies. This protects children in this country and other countries, which is extremely important. To date, the authority has registered 12 organisations and a further six are awaiting a decision on accreditation. I note the points made by the Deputy with regard to Helping Hands. Like many agencies, it was asked to provide information and I understand this has been provided. I understand also that this information has now gone to the HSE and the Adoption Authority is awaiting a response on its analysis of that information. Once that information comes back from the HSE, a decision can be made on Helping Hands.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.

The Dáil adjourned at 3.15 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 November 2011.