UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Questions (1159)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1159. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for Ireland to ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. [12898/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I am strongly committed to the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol. Preparations to ratify the Protocol are at an advanced stage and my Department will shortly be making a submission to the Attorney General proposing its ratification. Once approved, I will seek a Government decision on the ratification of the Convention at the earliest possible opportunity.

I greatly look forward to advancing progress on this important area of work and moving towards the confirmation of Ireland’s ratification of the Second Optional Protocol in the near future.

National Childcare Scheme

Questions (1160)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

1160. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when she expects to make the additional transition support payment to childcare providers under the national childcare scheme; the value of this payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12917/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

On March 11th, I announced the launch of the National Childcare Scheme, which will provide a pathway to quality, accessible, affordable Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare in Ireland.

In launching the scheme, I also announced a once-off Transition Support Payment. The payment recognises the central role of childcare providers and acknowledges the work involved in the initial transition period when both the new Scheme and the old legacy programmes will briefly run side by side.

All providers who sign-up by mid-September 2019 to participate in the National Childcare Scheme will qualify for the payment which will be made in the weeks prior to the first child registrations under the new Scheme (i.e. circa mid- late October).

With regard to the value of the payment, I have tasked staff within my Department with developing a fair and proportionate system of allocation recognising the varying scale of work within providers of different sizes.

I will be making a further announcement on this matter in the coming months, at which stage full details will be made available.

A total of €2m is available to support services with the transition to the NCS. This is in addition to the €19.4m I have made available to providers to assist them with the administration and non-contact work associated with the existing schemes.

Social Workers Recruitment

Questions (1161, 1162, 1173, 1174, 1175, 1177)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1161. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of full-time equivalent social worker vacancies by county in tabular form. [13027/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1162. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the recruitment targets for social workers for 2019, by county. [13028/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1173. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of full-time equivalent social worker vacancies by service area, for example, child protection and welfare in tabular form. [13039/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1174. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of agency social workers employed by Tusla in each of the past five years in tabular form. [13040/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1175. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount that was spent on external agency staff within Tusla in 2018. [13041/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1177. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of social workers employed by Tusla in each of the past five years in tabular form. [13043/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1161, 1162, 1173 to 1175, inclusive, and 1177 together.

I wish to inform the Deputy that my officials have forwarded the five questions submitted by her, PQ numbers 13028, 13039, 13040, 13041 and 13043, to Tusla for direct response.

Children in Care

Questions (1163)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1163. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number and percentage of children in care with an allocated social worker by county in tabular form. [13029/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I must advise the Deputy that data is reported by Tusla on the basis of Tusla administrative area, and not by county. The table below lays out the number of children in care with an allocated social worker.

Table: Number and percentage of children in care with allocated social worker

Area

Allocated SW

Awaiting SW (%)

Total

Dublin South East/Wicklow

242

31 (12%)

273

Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow

296

104 (35%)

400

Dublin South Central

351

10 (2%)

361

Midlands (Longford, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly)

319

60 (18%)

379

Dublin North City

471

37 (7%)

508

Dublin North

304

19 (6%)

323

Louth/Meath

377

28 (7%)

405

Cavan/Monaghan

142

14 (9%)

156

Kerry

165

0 (0%)

165

Cork

279

2 (0.7%)

281

Carlow/Kilkenny/SouthTipperary

240

107 (44%)

347

Waterford/Wexford

394

42 (11%)

436

Donegal

213

1 (0.4%)

214

Sligo/Leitrim/WestCavan

108

0 (0%)

108

Mayo

124

0 (0%)

124

Galway/Roscommon

397

1 (0.2%)

398

Midwest (Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary)

520

61 (11%)

581

Social Work Team Separated Children Seeking Asylum

67

0 (0%)

67

Children in Care

Questions (1164)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1164. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number and percentage of children in residential special care with an allocated social worker by county in tabular form. [13030/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I must advise the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency collates data for the purposes of reporting by Tusla administrative area, rather than by county.

The table below lays out the number of children in residential special care, who have an allocated social worker, by Tusla administrative area.

Children in Special Care with allocated social worker, by Tusla administrative area

Area

No. in Residential Special Care

No. in Residential Special Care with allocated social worker

% in Residential Special Care with allocated social worker

DSE/W

0

0

N/A

Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow

2

2

100%

Dublin South Central

1

1

100%

Midlands

0

0

N/A

Dublin North City

1

1

100%

Dublin North

2

2

100%

Louth/Meath

2

2

100%

Cavan/Monaghan

0

0

N/A

Kerry

1

1

100%

Cork

0

0

N/A

Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary

0

0

N/A

Waterford/Wexford

0

0

N/A

Donegal

0

0

N/A

Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan

0

0

N/A

Mayo

0

0

N/A

Galway/Roscommon

2

2

100%

Midwest

3

3

100%

Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum

0

0

N/A

Total

14

14

100%

Children in Care

Questions (1165)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1165. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number and percentage of children that are in general residential care with an allocated social worker by county in tabular form. [13031/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can advise the Deputy that data is reported by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency by administrative area and not by county. The most recent date for which data is available is December 2018, which is laid out in the table below.

Table: Number and percentage of children in general residential care with an allocated social worker, by Tusla administrative area.

Area

# in general residential care

# with social worker

% with social worker

Dublin South East/Wicklow

20

19

95%

Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow

36

32

89%

Dublin South Central

25

25

100%

Midlands

14

13

93%

Dublin North City

36

35

97%

Dublin North

26

26

100%

Louth/Meath

10

10

100%

Cavan/Monaghan

0

0

Kerry

9

9

100%

Cork

36

36

100%

Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary

22

21

95%

Waterford/Wexford

40

40

100%

Donegal

8

8

100%

Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan

4

4

100%

Mayo

1

1

100%

Galway/Roscommon

8

8

100%

Midwest

34

32

94%

Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum

35

35

100%

TOTAL

364

354

97%

Tusla aims to ensure that all children in residential care have an allocated social worker. The social worker is responsible for the preparation and review of the child's statutory care plan which outlines the goals for the child while in care and is prepared in consultation with the child. The care plan sets out the details needed in their placement plan for living, education, socialising, visiting family and other important issues for the child. Regulations set out the minimum visiting requirements by the social worker, to meet directly with the child and establish that they are safe, well cared for an consulted about their care. The social worker also keeps in contact with the child's parent, ensures access arrangements are appropriate and safe and that the parent is, in keeping with the individual circumstances of the case, is kept informed of their child's progress.

Whilst every effort is made that all children in residential care are allocated a social worker, there are a very small number of instances (currently 10) where this is not possible due to a change in social worker or where there are temporary difficulties in filling the social work post. However, it is important to note that the allocation of social workers for children in residential care is a priority and such cases are re-prioritised for allocation as soon as possible and is a short-term issue. Social workers on the duty team will take on specific aspects of the role, for instance visiting the child or reviewing the care plan.

Children in Care

Questions (1166)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1166. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number and percentage of children in relative foster care with an allocated social worker by county in tabular form. [13032/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can advise the Deputy that data is reported by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency by administrative area and not by county. The most recent date for which data is available is December 2018, which is laid out in the table below.

Number and percentage of children in relative foster care with an allocated social worker, by Tusla administrative area.

Area

# in relative foster care

# with social worker

% with social worker

Dublin South East/Wicklow

70

60

86%

Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow

155

94

61%

Dublin South Central

103

99

96%

Midlands

98

83

85%

Dublin North City

162

138

85%

Dublin North

95

82

86%

Louth/Meath

80

75

94%

Cavan/Monaghan

24

23

96%

Kerry

57

57

100%

Cork

221

221

100%

Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary

96

55

57%

Waterford/Wexford

100

91

91%

Donegal

31

30

97%

Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan

26

26

100%

Mayo

43

43

100%

Galway/Roscommon

76

76

100%

Midwest

149

132

89%

Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum

0

0

TOTAL

1,586

1,385

87%

Whilst a case may be unallocated, this does not necessarily mean that a child is not being seen by a social worker. The relative foster carers, for example, may also have an allocated link social worker. There may also be another Tusla professional meeting with the child in placement such as an access worker or a social care worker/leader. Areas have systems in place, where a social worker has not been allocated to a child, whereby the child still receives a safeguarding visit to ensure his or her needs are being met.

Children in Care

Questions (1167)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1167. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number and percentage of children that have a written care plan by county in tabular form. [13033/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can advise the Deputy that data is reported by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency on the basis of administrative area, and not by county.

I have written to Tusla to request the information to which the Deputy refers. A further response will issue when I have had a reply.

Foster Care Data

Questions (1168)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1168. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the annual cost of a private foster care place versus a public foster care place in tabular form. [13034/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

All foster care placements, whether provided directly by Tusla or sourced through private sector providers, operates using the same model of care. The use of private foster placements is a necessary part of ensuring that the service is available at all times and that Tusla has access to specialised placements.

Tusla Finance Directorate conducted an exercise in 2017 to estimate the total weekly cost of a public foster care placement. This exercise took account of all activity costs relating to foster care including recruitment, administration, supervision, support functions and the foster care allowance of €325 per week for children under 12 and €352 per week for children 13 to 17 years of age.

This exercise estimated that the weekly cost for a child under 12 in general foster care to be €625.63, and a child over 12 to be €652.63.

Private foster care costs approximately €1,000 per child per week.

The table below lays out the approximate cost, per annum, for children under 12, and children over 12, for private and Tusla placements.

Table: Standard rate per annum for Tusla and private placements by age.

Age Profile

Private Provider

Tusla

<12

52,000

32,533

>12

52,000

33,937

Private providers invoice Tusla for additional/enhanced supports required to meet the needs of children as set out in their care plan.

Other arrangements are in place such as respite and additional/enhanced supports. The foster payment policy offers guidelines on the types of payment available, accessible via the link below, for your convenience.

http://hsenet.hse.ie/childfamilyagency/Finance_Payments_FC_AC_SL.pdf

Child Protection Services Provision

Questions (1169)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1169. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child protection cases awaiting the allocation of a social care worker by priority level and county in tabular form. [13035/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

On receipt of referrals, Tusla, Child and Family Agency, allocates child protection cases to social workers. Social care workers primarily work currently in the area of residential care, family support and on children in care teams undertaking direct work with children. I can advise the Deputy that Tusla, collate and report data by Tusla administrative area, rather than by county. The table below lays out the number of cases awaiting allocation by area and priority level.

Table: Number of cases awaiting allocation to a social worker, by priority level and Tusla area

Area

High

Medium

Low

Total

Number of total waiting who are children in care

Dublin South East/Wicklow

22

59

63

144

31

Dublin South West/

Kildare/WestWicklow

218

251

82

551

104

Dublin South Central

0

292

440

732

10

Midlands

109

288

102

499

60

Dublin North City

0

88

76

164

37

Dublin North

10

685

625

1320

19

Louth/Meath

17

319

122

458

28

Cavan/Monaghan

10

71

18

99

14

Kerry

58

52

17

127

0

Cork

196

322

179

697

2

Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipp

44

359

115

518

107

Waterford/Wexford

94

158

84

336

42

Donegal

100

152

58

310

1

Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan

1

26

1

28

0

Mayo

0

0

0

0

0

Galway/Roscommon

11

87

78

176

1

Midwest

113

87

73

273

61

Total

1,003

3,296

2,133

6,432

517

Cases that are not yet allocated a social worker are overseen by duty social work teams, and about one fifth of cases may be dealt with as “active on duty” where specific actions by the social work team are taking place, including information gathering and visits to see the child.

All urgent cases are assigned immediately to a social worker.

Annual data on child protection and welfare referrals show significant ongoing increases since 2015. Tusla child protection duty social work teams screen each referral to determine whether if it meets the eligibility criteria for Tusla. After screening a duty social worker carries out a preliminary enquiry, gathering information about the referral, to determine whether the report meets the threshold for harm for child protection. If the preliminary enquiry finds that the family would benefit from a welfare support and that a child protection response is not merited the case could be diverted for a welfare response at this point. The preliminary enquiry also determines the priority status of each case.

A high priority determination is not solely determined by information indicating risk to the child, but may refer also to a child in care for less than a year, in an unstable placement or approaching 18 year.

Family Resource Centres

Questions (1170, 1171, 1182)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1170. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding provided to each family resource centre in each of the past four years in tabular form. [13036/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1171. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding that has been budgeted for each family resource centre for 2019 in tabular form. [13037/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1182. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding provided to each family resource centre in tabular form. [13270/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1170, 1171 and 1182 together.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, administers the Family Resource Centre (FRC) Programme.

As the distribution of funding to Family Resource Centres is an operational matter for Tusla, I have requested Tusla to provide the Deputy with the requested information directly.

Social Workers Recruitment

Questions Nos. 1173 to 1175, inclusive, answered with Question No. 1161.

Questions (1172)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1172. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has engaged with the Minister for Education and Skills or her other ministerial colleagues regarding training additional social workers or increasing the number of places available on college courses for the same; and if so, the details of her engagement on this matter. [13038/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my officials are currently engaging with stakeholders to identify opportunities for Tusla to influence the future supply of key personnel such as social workers.

In this context, on the 16th January, 2019 my officials facilitated the inaugural meeting of the High Level Social Work Education Stakeholders Group.

The meeting comprised of representatives from the HSE, Tusla, Solas, the Department of Education and Skills, the Technological Higher Education Authority (THEA), the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the current social work course providers:

- National University of Ireland Galway;

- University College Cork;

- University College Dublin;

- Trinity College Dublin;

- Institute of Technology Sligo

- National University of Ireland Maynooth.

It is important to note that CORU is required to accredit courses for the education and training of all social workers, as well as registering individual social workers. Social workers are educated and registered as generic social workers, who may then apply to take up employment in specific areas such as child protection, probation, mental health and disability services. Accordingly, social workers are required to undertake at least two placements on a CORU accredited training course. The placement has to be supervised by a registered experienced social worker and a student is required to undertake at least one statutory placement (Tusla or Probation Services ) and to have experience of both adult and children's services. Students have to pass their placement in order to graduate.

At the January meeting, the colleges highlighted issues with securing social work student placements. Given the importance of placements, it was agreed at the meeting that the difficulty securing placements for social work students is a significant obstacle to the provision of any additional training places on existing courses. This is also an obstacle for the development of any entirely new courses and presents a significant draw on the colleges’ resources.

Accordingly, the group decided that the first priority to be examined will be social work student placements with a view to streamlining the process of securing statutory placements. A sub-group is currently being established to examine how to streamline and formalise student placements and the colleges have indicated this will enable them to provide additional training places on existing courses. The streamlining of placements is also essential before any entirely new courses can be developed.

Questions Nos. 1173 to 1175, inclusive, answered with Question No. 1161.

Childcare Legislation

Question No. 1177 answered with Question No. 1161.

Questions (1176)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1176. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the review of section 3 of the Child Care Act 1991. [13042/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, the primary legislation regulating child care policy is the Child Care Act 1991.

My Department is reviewing the 1991 Act in line with a Government commitment under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. The purpose of the review is to identify what is working well within the existing legislation, address any identified gaps or new areas for development and reflect recent policy and practice developments.

Section 3, which provides the statutory basis for The Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla) responsibility to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, is being reviewed as part of the ongoing wider review of the Act. The review of section 3 is considering the legislative measures that need to be in place to best protect and support children identified as at risk of harm.

In recognition of the multi-agency approach required to support an effective child protection system, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan T.D., and I have agreed that section 3 of the Child Care Act would be considered by the Inter-Agency Implementation Group for the Garda Síochána Inspectorate Report – Responding to Child Sexual Abuse; A follow-up Review. The group, which is chaired by Caroline Biggs S.C., includes representatives from both Departments as well as representatives from Tusla and an Garda Síochána. The report of the Implementation Group will be considered as part of the Child Care Act review.

Question No. 1177 answered with Question No. 1161.

Child Protection

Questions (1178)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1178. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child protection and welfare referrals made to Tusla that await screening. [13044/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

In the nine month period from January 2018 -September 2018 Tusla received 41,313 referrals to child protection and welfare services. An initial screening identified that 98%, (40,584) referrals were appropriate for Tusla. (Please note that this data should be considered provisional as validation is ongoing).

Tusla child protection duty social work teams screen all referrals within 24 hours to determine whether a referral meets the eligibility criteria. There are no waiting lists for screening of referrals. All urgent cases are assigned immediately to a social worker.

At the end of December 2018, the latest date for which this data is available, the number of cases open to Tusla Child Welfare and Protection services was 26,433, of which 6,432 (24%) were awaiting the allocation of a social worker

DEIS Scheme

Questions (1179)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

1179. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the progress made on the proposed DEIS model for childcare services operating in areas of high disadvantage; the proposed date for implementation in view of the fact that the current targeted schemes are being dismantled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13164/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

First 5, a whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families was published in November 2018. It sets out a ten-year plan to improve the lives of children up to the age of five and their families. The actions will be delivered by a number of Government departments, State Agencies and wider partners.

One of the actions in First 5 is to develop mechanisms to provide additional supports to Early Learning and Care settings where there are high proportions of children who are at risk of poverty in order to mitigate the impacts of early disadvantage. The development of this model will be informed by the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools model, DEIS, which operates at both primary and second level.

The Implementation Plan for First 5 is currently being developed in preparation for publication in May. The plan will cover Phase I of implementation and set out annual milestones for each of the first three years of the strategy.

Given the significance of the work to develop a programme for the delivery of Early Learning and Care in the context of concentrated disadvantage, and the importance of putting in place robust systems to benefit children and to ensure accountability for public money, it is essential that proper scoping, detailed analysis, piloting and evaluation takes place for this project. Some of the first steps, which will proceed this year, will include developing a methodology for assessing levels of concentrated disadvantage in Early Learning and Care settings and analysis of the types of additional supports in Early Learning and Care that will help to address disadvantage. It is likely to take some time before the model is refined for roll out, with funding secured.

In the interim, I can assure the Deputy that the current targeted subsidy schemes are not being dismantled. Rather, they are being streamlined in to one comprehensive scheme from October: the National Childcare Scheme (previously the Affordable Childcare Scheme). Streamlining the existing targeted subsidy schemes will make them more accessible for both parents and providers. The Scheme will provide a fair and consistent system of progressive financial support towards the cost of Early Learning and Care and School Age Care, with a particular focus on low income families but also incorporating universal supports, and provide a robust and flexible platform for future investment.

Applications for the subsidy programmes currently in operation may still be made until the National Childcare Scheme goes live in October 2019, after which applications to these programmes will close. Therefore, for the 2019/2020 programme year, both the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) and the existing support programmes will run simultaneously. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCS) will be merged with the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme Plus (CCSP) for the final programme year and will cease completely in 2020. To make the transition to the new Scheme as smooth as possible, parents will be able to join the NCS as soon as it launches or remain in their current programme for the final programme year. If a parent wishes to change to the NCS at any point throughout the year, they can remain on their current support programme right up until their Early Learning and Care or School Age Care provider registers them for the NCS and they confirm the registration.

The National Childcare Scheme will comprise two types of subsidies, universal and income-related. The universal subsidy is not means-tested and is available to all qualifying families of any income level, for children between the ages of 24 weeks and 36 months. Income-related subsidies are payable for children between 24 weeks and 15 years, and the level of subsidy payable is determined by the family’s reckonable income. This reckonable income represents gross income minus tax, PRSI, and other deductibles and any applicable multiple child discount.

In addition, the Childcare Support Act 2018 allows for additional support for families where there is an identified need for Early Learning and Care or School Age Care on grounds of child development or child welfare. Families with high levels of need, who require Early Learning and Care or School Age Care for child welfare, child protection or family support reasons, may be referred for support by a specified “sponsor” body. Where such a referral is made, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy for the number of hours considered appropriate by the sponsor without having to satisfy the scheme’s eligibility, income or enhanced hours requirements. There is no general minimum or maximum age limit for a child who is the subject of a referral by a sponsor. However, sponsor bodies will adhere to strict criteria for qualification for referral as set out in Agreements made under section 14 of the Childcare Support Act 2018.