I note the report referred to by the Deputy which was published recently by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. A significant part of the report refers to services provided by the Child and Family Agency, and my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has recently responded to the issues raised in the report. As a number of the report's recommendations relate to the HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and the need for improved inter-agency co-operation with the Child and Family Agency, I have asked the Executive to consider these and determined the steps necessary to address the issues identified.
The HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are benefitting significantly from the funding provided by the Government for mental health services, which amounts to €766 million in 2014, including additional funding of €20 million this year, as part of total additional funding of €90 million over the period 2012 to 2014 inclusive. By the end of 2014, upwards of 1,100 new posts will be put in place, to strengthen Community Mental Health Teams for both adults and children, and develop other specialist mental health services.
A Vision for Change recommended the establishment of 99 multi-disciplinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams to provide acute secondary mental health care in the community. There are now 61 CAMHS teams in place, compared to 54 in 2008. The additional funding in 2012-14 is being used, in part to expand and enhance the skill mix of these teams. Around 230 new posts were allocated to CAMHS over 2012-13 and recruitment is well advanced. The increasing demands being placed on our Child Mental Health Services were reflected in the 14,000 or so referrals received by CAMHS teams in 2013. This was nearly 1,000 or 8% more, than projected in the HSE National Service Plan last year. However, the target of 70% of referrals being seen within 3 months was maintained.
I accept that there are specific additional risks of developing mental illness associated with children who are within the care system and that a proportion of the children attending CAMHS services are in contact with, or in the care of, the social services. A comprehensive protocol is in place between the HSE and the Child and Family Agency to ensure that the needs of children in the care of the State have access to CAMHS services in the same way as any other child with a mental illness, prioritised on need.