Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Questions (1352)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

1352. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when she expects to appoint a new chairperson of the Collaborative Forum; the process by which this appointment will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19007/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I would like to place on the record of the House my sincere thanks and appreciation to the outgoing Chair, Mr Gerry Kearney, for his personal commitment in supporting the work of the Collaborative Forum.

The Chair had stated his intention to step down once the Forum's first report was concluded. This milestone has been reached and I have already signalled to the Forum that it would now be opportune to capture and reflect upon the learning from the process to date. In this way we can refine the mandate of the Forum to facilitate continued engagement with former residents of the institutions involved. The Forum itself also suggested a revisiting of these matters.

I am currently examining how best to support this interim evaluation and I will ensure that the Forum is directly involved in this process. In accordance with the Forum's Charter the appointment of a Chair is a matter for the Minister and I am considering a suitable appointment as part of the evolution of the Forum process. I am mindful that the experience thus far has demonstrated the critical importance of having an independent Chair with the competence and capacity to sensitively and effectively support the process.

I hope to be in a position to advise Forum members on the progress made in these areas ahead of their next meeting.

Foster Care Data

Questions (1353)

Clare Daly

Question:

1353. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the percentage of foster children placed in care in 2017 and 2018 that were placed by for-profit foster care agencies; the names of the agencies involved; the percentage of children placed by each; and the jurisdiction in which each is located for tax purposes. [19080/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I am advised by Tusla that, in 2017, there were 395 children placed with non statutory fostering agencies. In 2018, there were 390 children placed with non-statutory fostering agencies. This amounts to approximately 6% of all children in care in each of those years. Tusla remains the primary provider of fostering services in Ireland. I have asked Tusla to reply directly to the Deputy with a breakdown of the percentage of children placed with each Agency.

The names and country of registration of the private fostering services involved are listed in Table A.

Table A : Private fostering services and country of registration for tax purposes.

Private Fostering Service

Country of Registration for Tax

ALL IN CARE Total

IE

ORIGINS FOSTER CARE LTD Total

IE

ORCHARD CHILDRENS SERVICES LTD Total

IE

FIVE RIVERS IRELAND LTD Total

IE

OAKLODGE FOSTERING SERVICES Total

IE

THREE STEPS PRIVATE SERVICES Total

IE

SORCHA HOMES LTD/HORIZON HOUSE Total

IE

DAFFODIL CARE SERVICES LTD Total

IE

CARE VISIONS FOSTERING Total

IE

FRESH START SUPPORT SERVICES LTD Total

IE

ST CHRISTOPHERS FELLOWSHIP Total

GB

FOSTERING FIRST IRELAND LTD Total

GB Address but has Irish VAT Number

BY THE BRIDGE NORTH WEST LTD Total

GB

Foster Care Expenditure

Questions (1354)

Clare Daly

Question:

1354. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the spend on foster care in 2017 and 2018; the percentage of this allocated to for-profit agencies; and the amount paid to each individual agency. [19081/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy's question relates to operational matters for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, I have requested that Tusla respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Adoption Legislation

Questions (1355)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

1355. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the progress of Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 (details supplied); when she expects same to be finalised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19138/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 has passed Second Stage in the Seanad. I am hoping that Committee Stage in the Seanad will be scheduled for end May, and thereafter, I intend to proceed to enactment as quickly as possible.

As I am sure the Deputy is aware, the Bill seeks to balance the rights to identity and to privacy, which sometimes conflict with one another. Given the constitutional context, striking the balance between these rights is proving challenging, and has required significant engagement between my office and the Office of the Attorney General.

I am conscious of the delay with progressing the Bill. It has been a long and arduous legislative journey. New draft legislation was first announced by former Minister Mary Hanafin in May 2001. Eighteen years later I am confident that the revised privacy provisions that I intend to propose by way of committee stage amendment in the Seanad will have a positive impact on access to birth information, and will be an improvement on the existing provisions in the Bill.

This will only finally succeed if members of the Oireachtas support it. It reflects my sincere efforts to tilt the balance more strongly in favour of applicants' right to identity and access to birth information, while maintaining necessary protections for a small cohort of potentially vulnerable birth parents.

Child and Family Agency

Questions (1356)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

1356. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has met formally with the interim chief executive officer, CEO, of Tusla (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19161/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, Mr Pat Smyth, was appointed by the Tusla Board on 1 October 2018. The interim CEO reports directly to the Board.

I have met the interim CEO on a number of occasions at events that we both attended. I formally met the Interim CEO at my most recent quarterly meeting with the Chairperson and other representatives of the Board of Tusla on 8 April, 2019, when he attended for part of the meeting.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

Questions (1357)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1357. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the programmes funded by her Department in the early learning and care sector. [19436/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department funds the following early learning and care programmes:

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

The ECCE programme is a universal two year programme available to all children within the eligible age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. The programme is provided for three hours per day, five days per week over 38 weeks and the programme year runs from September to June. There is one point of entry in the programme year which is September. Childcare services taking part in the ECCE scheme must provide an appropriate pre-school educational programme which adheres to the principles of Síolta and Aistear, the national frameworks for early years care and education. Local City/County Childcare Committees (CCCs) staff are on hand to support participating services. ECCE is only available through participating early years services, a list of these services is available through the relevant local CCC

Community Childcare Subvention (CCS)

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme is a childcare programme targeted to support parents/guardians on a low income to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating community childcare services. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) pays for a portion of the childcare costs for eligible children, with the parent/guardian paying the remainder. The CCS is only available through participating community not-for-profit childcare services, a list of these services is available through the relevant local County Childcare Committee. CCS subvention is available for 52 weeks of the year. The CCS programme commenced on 20th August 2018 and runs until 16th August 2019. This is referred to as the Programme year. CCS services may cater for infant, pre-school and afterschool places. They may also incorporate a breakfast club. Some CCS services may be stand-alone services and cater for just one type of service e.g. afterschool.

Please note CCS will be discontinued at the end of the 2018/2019 programme year.

Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP)

The Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCS Plus) Programme provides support for parents/guardians on a low income to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating privately owned childcare services and at community not-for-profit childcare services; a list of these services is available through the relevant local County Childcare Committee. The DCYA pays a portion of the childcare costs for eligible children, with the parent/guardian paying the remainder. The eligibility of the parent/guardian is determined by their status with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection . The CCS Plus programme commenced on 20th August 2018 and runs until 16th August 2019. This is referred to as the Programme year. CCS Plus services may cater for infant, pre-school and afterschool places. They may also incorporate a breakfast club. Some CCS Plus services may be stand-alone services and cater for just one type of service e.g. afterschool.

Universal Subsidy (CCSU)

As part of the Government policy to make childcare more affordable, DCYA introduced in 2017 a universal childcare subvention payment of up to €20 per week for families using eligible childcare providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry to the ECCE scheme. This scheme is administered via an enhancement to the CCS Plus scheme.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CCSR)

As per government policy, the Government of Ireland increased Ireland’s resettlement quota to cater for up to 4,000 Programme Refugees. To support the Programme Refugees (PRs) in their resettlement and integration into Irish society, the need to provide dedicated childcare funding was recognised. Childcare funding for this cohort was incorporated into the existing CCSP Programme to enable parents/guardians to be free to attend a language and orientation course for up to 60 weeks

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CCSR(T))

As part of the “Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness”, DCYA launched a special provision under the current Community Childcare Subvention Programme, entitled CCSR (Transitional), which provides access to free childcare for children of families experiencing homelessness. The provision provides subvention for all pre-school children aged 0 to 5 inclusive and 6 to 12 year olds during the school holidays only. The scheme is also designed to help those transitioning from homelessness to permanent accommodation. CCSRT is available through all services participating in the CCS/P programmes.

Training and Employment Childcare (TEC)

The TEC Programme is an overarching childcare programme funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and is specifically designed to support parents/guardians on eligible Education and Training Board training courses, as well as certain categories of parents/guardians returning to work by providing subsidised childcare places. The TEC Programme provides childcare support for parents/guardians on certain education and training courses (CETS), parents/guardians working on Community Employment programmes (CEC), and also for families on Family Income Support (ASCC):

Childcare Education and Training Support programme (CETS)

The CETS Programme is administered and funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It provides childcare to certain training course participants on courses provided by the Education and Training Boards (ETB, formerly FAS and VEC), specifically, courses run in training centres (formally FÁS training centres), ETB VTOS courses, and Secondary Schools students. The duration of CETS corresponds with the start and end dates stated on the eligibility letter up to a maximum of 50 weeks per year.

Community Employment Childcare programme (CEC)

The CEC scheme is administered and funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and provides childcare for children of parents/guardians who are participating on Community Employment schemes. The duration of CEC corresponds with the start and end dates stated on the Community Employment eligibility letter provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection up to a maximum of 50 weeks per year.

After-School Child Care programme (ASCC)

The ASCC scheme is administered and funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It provides afterschool care for primary school children for certain categories of working parents/guardians as well as parents/guardians on employment programmes (not including Community Employment) based on eligibility criteria provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. ASCC is available for a once off maximum of 52 weeks and this allowance does not have to be used consecutively.

Extra funding is provided to compensate for school holidays.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS)

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS), the pathway to quality, accessible, affordable Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare was launched on the 11th of March 2019.

It is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. Through this entitlement, the NCS aims to improve children's outcomes, support lifelong learning, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland.

The NCS will support families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder. A full list of contracted childcare providers will be available on www.ncs.gov.ie in the autumn of 2019.

There are two types of supports available under the Scheme: a Universal subsidy and an Income Assessed subsidy.

The Universal subsidy is available to all families with children under three years. It is also available to families with children over three years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme. The Universal subsidy provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week. It is not means tested and can typically be calculated within minutes of applying via the Scheme’s online system.

An Income Assessed subsidy is available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years. This subsidy is means tested and will be calculated based on your individual circumstances. The subsidy rate will vary depending on your level of family income, your child’s age and their educational stage. It can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week where parents are working, studying or training, or in circumstances where a parent is unavailable to care for a child. Where parents are not working, studying or training, the subsidy will be paid for up to a maximum of 15 hours per week.

When operational, the parent will be able to apply for a subsidy online or by post.

A parent is required to have a verified MyGovID when making an online application. A verified MyGovID is a single, secure account to unlock Irish Government services online.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Questions (1358, 1359)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1358. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if persons employed by the early childhood care and education programme will continue to be described as providing early years education; and if there are proposed changes to this title. [19437/19]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

1359. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she is considering changes to the title of the early childhood care and education programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19438/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1358 and 1359 together.

The Department of Children of Youth Affairs provides funding for the Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare sector through a wide range of schemes and initiatives.

The largest annual funding stream is for the universal pre-school programme, or Early Childhood Care and Education programme. This programme resources Early Learning and Care services to provide children with 15 hours per week of pre-school education over a 38-week programme year, for two years, free of charge to parents.

In practice, parents, providers and the wider public use a number of different names and titles to describe this programme and the staff who work there. For example, the programme itself is called:- the free preschool programme, the free pre-school year/s, the ECCE programme, sessional pre-school and free childcare hours, among others. In respect of the staff who deliver this programme, similarly there is a range of terms used to describe their job titles and roles, as there is for those who work in the wider Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare sector. Staff are sometimes referred to as early years educators, but very often, other titles are used.

In the absence of a professional regulator or professional body for the sector, no titles have been agreed at national level to date. Staff are employed by individual providers, either private or community not for profit, and sometimes the provider proposes terminology to be used to describe the various roles within the service.

However, my Department acknowledges the centrality of the workforce to delivering quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services and to that end has made a number of commitments in First 5, the recently published Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, in respect of the workforce. Most significantly, the Strategy commits to a Workforce Development Plan to ensure the appropriate number of staff at all levels in the sector and support the achievement of ambitious qualification targets. The Workforce Development Plan will also consider the grading structure for the sector and seek to agree terminology. It will set out plans to raise the profile of careers in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare sector, establish a career framework and leadership development opportunities.

The Terms of Reference for the Workforce Development Plan Steering Group have recently been published. Critical to its work will be the input of a Stakeholder Advisory Group, and a public consultation will also take place which will include consultation on the language we use to describe different occupational roles within the sector. The first phase of the Plan, including the main report, is to be completed by the summer of next year.

Registration of Births

Questions (1360)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1360. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will consider a scoping exercise into a legal birth registration to be expanded beyond those cases which are already held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19526/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There is currently no legal basis for the State to gain access to records held by private bodies or individuals. It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 records held privately. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, 2016 will provide the necessary statutory basis for these relevant records to be transferred to the State for safekeeping by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. These records will then be available for information and tracing purposes and if deemed necessary, for any future sampling or audit projects.

The purpose of the current scoping exercise is to ascertain whether any similar evidence of illegal birth registrations on the St Patrick’s Guild files is evident on files of other agencies and bodies involved in adoption. I am expecting the report to be submitted to me by the end of this month, and will then decide on any necessary next steps.

Childcare Services Staff

Questions (1361)

Robert Troy

Question:

1361. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she will take to address the poor level of pay and conditions being experienced by graduate workers in the childcare sector; and her views on whether it is reasonable to expect more attractive pay and conditions having completed a high level of training in this area. [19670/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Early Learning and Care (ELC) sector is one in which low pay and poor working conditions for staff are common. This impacts on the quality of ELC provision through its effect on the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. The lack of consistency of care together with high staff turnover impact directly on the quality of service children receive, while low wages are a constraint on plans to upskill the workforce. My support for improved pay and conditions for ELC practitioners has been explicit given their critical role in supporting children’s development and supporting families.

An objective of mine is to continue to increase investment in the ELC sector. Over the last 4 budgets we have achieved an increase of 117% and First 5, the Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, published in November, commits to doubling that again over the next 10 years. However, increased investment by itself will not ensure staff wages and conditions will improve.

I have actively encouraged the sector to seek a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO). As the State is not the employer of ELC staff, it is therefore unable to set wage levels. A SEO has been proposed as a way forward for the ELC sector, but it must be initiated by a grouping representing the sector. Organisations requesting the commencement of such a process must show they have significant membership, but the relevant Trade Unions have not yet reached the thresholds required. A Sectoral Employment Order would provide for mandatory terms and conditions in the early learning and care and school age childcare sector, minimum rates of remuneration, and other conditions.

Separate to a Sectoral Employment Order, First 5 includes a commitment to review the funding model for the ELC sector, under which employers would be supported to provide more favourable working conditions to attract and retain staff. The new funding model would complement a Sectoral Employment Order and existing Government funded early learning and care schemes by leveraging additional investment for certain criteria, for example, employers introducing better pay would receive greater investment. It is envisaged that this new funding model would open up alternative mechanisms by which the State could incentivise services to meet national standards in relation to wages and/or working conditions.

In addition, work will commence shortly on the development of a Workforce Development Plan, which will identify practical steps to achieve First 5 commitments relating to the workforce. The Workforce Development Plan will also set out plans to raise the profile of careers in ELC and SAC, establish a career framework and leadership development opportunities and will work towards building a more gender-balanced and diverse workforce.

I also aim to achieve a graduate-led ELC workforce with at least 50% of staff working directly with children holding an appropriate degree-level qualification by 2028. A medium-term goal on the way to achieving this percentage is to increase the percentage of graduates working in the sector from 22% today to 30% within three years.

Raising the profile of careers in ELC and SAC is of high importance to me and I intend to establish a career framework with developmental opportunities. The Workforce Development Plan demonstrates the commitment of my Department to ensuring that ELC and SAC professionals have clear pathways for entry and progression in the sector.

Other interventions my Department has led on to improve conditions in the sector include:

- The development of paid CPD (continuous professional development).

- Development of multi-award winning training opportunities (LINC).

- A 7% increase in ECCE capitation last year.

- The provision of €19.4m annually in Programme Support Payments to acknowledge the administrative demands of operating government schemes.

- Enhanced career options for graduate staff which include Inspector positions in Tusla and the DCYA funded Early Years Department of Education Inspectorate, 130 graduates are now employed to support quality and inclusion development within Better Start, Pobal.

- Additional investment in higher capitation paid to ECCE services which employ graduates. This has seen the number of services in receipt, rise from 11% to 50%.

The average wage in the sector rose from €11.93 per hour in 2017 to €12.17 per hour in 2018, but there is a very long way to go before staff have the wages and working conditions ( for example, full time, full year contracts) that reflect the importance of the work they do, particularly now with 22% of the workforce being graduates.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Questions (1362)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1362. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a case in which a child (details supplied) meets the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months for the early childhood care and education scheme but is deemed to not be within the eligible age range to avail of the ECCE will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19683/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

From September 2018, all children meeting the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months are eligible for a full two programme years on the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE). This measure refines the development introduced the previous year and increases the duration of each registered child on ECCE from a current average of 61 weeks, to a potential duration of 76 weeks (two programme years). This delivers fully on a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that is good for children, families and Early Years providers.

This minimum age was chosen based on national experience and a review of international practice. It also had regard to the regulatory environment for early years care and education in this country and issues such as child development readiness and adult-child ratios. The upper age limit remains the same (i.e. a child is not eligible if they will be 5 years and 6 months before the end of the programme year).

In order for a child to be eligible to be enrolled for free pre-school in September 2019 they must have been born between 1st January 2015 and 31st December 2016, i.e. they must have reached 2 years and 8 months on or before 31st August 2018.

In the example cited by the Deputy, the child will not be able to commence their ECCE in September 2019 as they will not have reached the age of 2 years and 8 months on or before 31st August 2019. However, they will be able to commence ECCE in September 2020, and continue for a further year from September 2021, commencing school in September 2022.

Some parents of children born around this time of the year may prefer for their children to start school at 4 rather than 5. These parents may therefore opt for 1 year of ECCE only. This decision is entirely at the discretion of the parent/s or guardian but it is important to reiterate that two full years of ECCE provision is available to all children.

In such circumstances, they should note that the universal subsidy for 0-3 years of age, of up to €1040 per year, is available to parents of children in registered childcare until the child is eligible for ECCE. It should also be noted that the National Childcare Scheme will launch in October 2019 and income-assessed subsidies will be available to families with children aged between 24 months and 15 years. This is a means-tested subsidy and is calculated based on a family's circumstances. The rate will vary depending on the level of family income, the child’s age and educational stage, and the number of children in the family. Further details of the new scheme due to be launched in October 2019 are available on the National Childcare Scheme website, https://ncs.gov.ie/

Youth Work Projects Funding

Questions (1363, 1364, 1365, 1366)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1363. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the expenditure funding provided to youth organisations and youth work provision in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19706/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1364. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the detail of the additional €1.5 million allocated for youth work provision in 2019, in tabular form according to schemes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19707/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1365. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the detail of the €60.4 million funding allocation for youth work provision in 2019, according to schemes (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19708/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1366. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the detail of the €60.4 million funding allocation to youth work services and provision by county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19709/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1363 to 1366, inclusive, together.

My Department was established in 2011 and I am happy to supply the Deputy with information relating to the period 2011 to 2019.

As the Deputy is aware my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This will provide an opportunity to identify need and to focus funding on young people most in need of intervention.

In advance of the introduction of a new single targeted funding scheme in 2020, a transition phase in 2019 will see the funding previously provided under the four funding programmes, (Special Projects for Youth, Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund 1&2, Local Drugs Task Force Projects and Youth Information Centres) collapsed into one funding stream for 2019 to assist with preparations for the new scheme in 2020.

Current funding provided to youth organisations and youth work provision in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is given in the table below:

Year

Total Youth Funding

2011

€60.2m

2012

€56.8m

2013

€51.7m

2014

€49.8m

2015

€49.9m

2016

€51.9m

2017

€57.4m

2018

€58.9m

2019

€60.4m

An additional €1.5 million in current funding has been allocated for the youth sector in 2019, bringing the overall allocation for the year to €60.395m. This represents a 2.5% increase on the 2018 allocation.

This additional funding will be used to support programmes in areas where there are disadvantaged young people and where there is a pressing need for targeted services to meet the needs of young people. Detail of the additional €1.5 million allocated for youth work provision in 2019 by scheme is given in the table below:

Funding Stream

Funding Amount

Youth Service Grant Scheme

€ 468,210

Special Projects for Youth*

€ 0

Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund 1&2*

€ 0

Local Drugs Task Force Projects*

€ 0

Revised Youth Funding Scheme

€ 729,349

Youth Information Centre*

€ 0

Local Youth Club Grant Scheme

€ 228,789

Other National Youth Organisations and Youth Initiatives and Internal Policy and Technical Support Funding Lines. Miscellaneous Costs

€ 73,652

Total

€ 1,500,000

* Now part of the new Targeted Youth Funding Scheme

The detail of the €60.4 million funding allocation for youth work provision in 2019, according to schemes is given in the following table:

Funding Scheme

2019

Targeted Youth Funding Scheme

€ 35,183,847

Youth Information Centres

€ 1,377,060

Youth Service Grant Scheme

€ 11,126,380

Revised Youth Funding Scheme VFM

€ 3,357,346

Local Youth Club Grant Scheme (inc CDYSB Annual Grant)

€ 2,531,206

Youth Officer Allocation + Technical Assistance

€ 3,680,092

LGBT Strategy

€ 400,000

Other National Youth Organisations and Youth Initiatives

€ 1,721,960

DCYA Policy and Support Programmes (inc. contingency)

€ 533,207

New Initiatives and other funding streams within Department

€ 483,902

Total

€ 60,395,000

The detail of the funding allocation to youth work services for 2019 and provision by county in tabular form is given in the following table:

FUNDING ETB

Cavan Monaghan Area

City of Dublin Youth Service Board Area

Cork Area

Dublin Dun Laoghaire ETB Area

Donegal Area

Galway and Roscommon Area

Kerry Area

Kildare and Wicklow Area

Targeted Youth Funding Scheme

€ 48,955

€ 14,211,874

€ 2,655,970

€ 7,241,058

€ 361,593

€ 1,517,867

€ 423,721

€ 1,276,597

Youth Information Centres

€ 114,493

€ 99,675

€ 127,176

€ 128,105

€ 137,983

€ 109,895

€ 115,677

€ 101,518

Revised Youth Funding Scheme

€ 481,036

€ 0

€ 93,923

€ 279,815

€ 0

€ 364,462

€ 0

€ 351,382

Local Youth Club Grant Scheme

€ 53,623

€ 341,000

€ 214,555

€ 315,175

€ 63,095

€ 128,497

€ 53,099

€ 149,558

Youth Work Function

€ 84,890

€ 51,498

€ 239,820

€ 210,187

€ 59,820

€ 150,155

€ 71,082

€ 169,820

Technical Assistance

€ 23,500

€ 855,251

€ 99,408

€ 300,267

€ 23,500

€ 56,069

€ 23,500

€ 48,196

Subtotal

€ 806,497

€ 15,559,298

€ 3,430,852

€ 8,474,607

€ 645,991

€ 2,326,945

€ 687,079

€ 2,097,071

FUNDING ETB

Kilkenny and Carlow Area

Laois and Offaly Area

Limerick and Clare Area

Longford and Westmeath Area

Louth and Meath Area

Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim Area

Tipperary Area

Waterford and Wexford Area

Targeted Youth Funding Scheme

€ 606,340

€ 225,695

€ 2,549,727

€ 297,542

€ 503,236

€ 363,464

€ 373,972

€ 2,424,430

Youth Information Centres

€ 50,759

€ 0

€ 104,614

€ 50,759

€ 0

€ 66,921

€ 59,363

€ 110,122

Revised Youth Funding Scheme

€ 270,875

€ 0

€ 245,136

€ 138,577

€ 100,920

€ 139,770

€ 437,315

€ 0

Local Youth Club Grant Scheme

€ 61,386

€ 65,197

€ 126,525

€ 52,156

€ 131,735

€ 85,438

€ 61,609

€ 115,684

Youth Work Function

€ 109,492

€ 59,823

€ 173,407

€ 69,867

€ 119,640

€ 130,889

€ 111,657

€ 168,595

Technical Assistance

€ 83,303

€ 23,500

€ 91,591

€ 23,500

€ 23,500

€ 23,500

€ 23,500

€ 87,384

Subtotal

€ 1,182,155

€ 374,215

€ 3,291,000

€ 632,401

€ 879,031

€ 809,982

€ 1,067,416

€ 2,906,215

Youth Services

Questions (1367)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1367. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the reform of the youth service grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19710/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

These schemes include the Youth Service Grant Scheme under which funding is made available on an annual basis to thirty national and major regional youth organisations. This funding is intended to ensure the emergence, promotion, growth and development of youth organisations with distinctive philosophies and programmes aimed at the social education of young people. In 2019, I provided an additional 2.5% in funding to this scheme, bringing the total allocation to over €11m. My Department has commenced a review of the Youth Service Grant Scheme. This review is intended to modernise the scheme to enhance accountability, transparency and outcome measurement. It is also seeking to ensure the scheme responds to the ever-evolving needs of young people. The review includes annual finance and governance meetings with the organisations in receipt of the largest YSGS grants and desktop reviews to inform the development of the reform programme.

Engagement with the National Youth Council of Ireland and the youth sector is a key priority for DCYA. Twice annually I meet with National Youth Organisations in receipt of YSGS funding. My officials avail of these meetings to update the organisations of the progress to date and our broad intentions of the review process. On the 11th April 2019, I met with the National Youth Organisations in receipt of YSGS and this provided an opportunity for me to hear directly from the sector about the policy issues facing them which might be considered in the context of the developing the reform agenda.

The work of the review is ongoing, and my Department is committed to ongoing consultation with the youth sector in relation to this review.

Youth Work Projects Funding

Questions (1368)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1368. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the youth employability scheme announced on 31 October 2018; the projects selected; the funding allocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19711/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Youth Employability Initiative provides funding to voluntary youth services to support programmes that target young people to improve their employability and achieve career goals. The Initiative is specifically designed to support projects that emphasise additionality and non-duplication of services currently provided by youth projects. The aim of the Initiative is to target 16 to 24-year olds, specifically 16 to 18-year olds who are not currently in employment, education or training to assist them on their progression to employment.

The Youth Employability Initiative is supported by funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund which is overseen by the Department of Rural and Community Development. This Initiative is being administered at a local level on behalf of my Department by the sixteen Education and Training Boards.

Following an application, assessment and selection process, 21 successful applicants have been awarded a budget allocation under this Initiative and details of the funding awarded are provided in the accompanying table.

Youth Employability Initiative Grants Approved

ETB

Project Name

Funding Approved

Cavan Monaghan

Breffni Integrated/Cavan Traveller Movement

€ 50,000

City Of Dublin

Cherry Orchard Integrated Youth Service

€ 50,000

City Of Dublin

Separated Children’s Education Service

€ 40,340

City Of Dublin

Rialto Youth Project

€ 19,880

Cork

Broadening Your Horizons – IRD Duhallow

€ 50,000

Cork

Youghal Youth Employment Initiative Foroige

€ 50,000

Donegal

Donegal Youth Service

€ 49,999

Dublin Dun Laoghaire

South Dublin County Partnerships (SDCP)

€ 32,766

Dublin Dun Laoghaire

Balbriggan Youth Service

€ 49,500

Galway Roscommon

Muintreas Teo

€ 48,750

Kerry

KDYS Tralee

€ 50,000

Kerry

KDYS Listowel

€ 50,000

Kildare Wicklow

Keeping It Real – Athy Youth Employment Programme

€ 50,000

Kilkenny Carlow

Foróige Youth Skills Killkenny

€ 49,994

Laois Offaly

Foróige Youth Skills Laois

€ 49,994

Limerick Clare

St. Mary's - City Disadvantage project

€ 47,914

Longford Westmeath

YWI Mullingar

€ 49,993

Louth Meath

Training for Success - Meath partnership

€ 50,000

Mayo Sligo Leitrim

Involve CLG

€ 40,247

Tipperary

Opportunity 4 Real Programme - YWI Tipperary

€ 45,392

Waterford Wexford

CRISPS - Children’s Group Link

€ 23,432

Total

€ 948,201

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (1369)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1369. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has made State board appointments in the past three years in circumstances in which she has reappointed a person who has already served two full terms contrary to the advice in section 13.2 of the Guidelines on Appointments to State boards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19712/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can confirm to the Deputy, that in the past three years, I have not made any State Board appointments to the boards of bodies under the aegis of my Department where I have reappointed a person that has already served two full terms.

Youth Work Projects Funding

Questions (1370)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1370. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the implementation of the value for money and policy review of youth work funding programmes report and the recommendation that the four existing funding schemes should be amalgamated into a single targeted youth funding scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19713/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and targeted programmes that support the provision of youth services for young people who are at risk of drugs, alcohol misuse, early school leaving, homelessness or who are living in disadvantaged communities. In line with the Department’s strategic objective of ensuring high standards of compliance on governance and accountability, a Value for Money and Policy Review of the Youth Funding programmes was conducted in 2013. The review examined three of the targeted funding schemes: Special Projects for Youth (SPY); Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund 1 and 2 (YPFSF) and Local Drugs Task Force projects (LDTF).

Overall, the review found that youth programmes can provide a significant contribution to improving outcomes for young people and should be considered for on-going public funding. However, the review also found that the programmes and performance related governance arrangements require significant reform. The review made a number of recommendations for the future operation of the youth schemes and their development in the years ahead to ensure an evidence-based and outcomes focused programme designed to secure optimal outcomes for young people. Government Decision S 180/20/1 0/0993C provided for publication of a Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Funding Programmes (2014) (VFMPR) and implementation of the recommendations therein.

The overall purpose of reform of the youth funding programmes is to provide effective support to vulnerable young people in non-formal education settings. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has been actively engaged in a range of measures to support implementation of the VFMPR since its publication.

Implementation measures to date include: (a) mapping of youth service provision; (b) an evidence review of schemes of a similar nature (both nationally and internationally); (c) introduction of a Sample Service Funding Scheme for new services which were required to meet criteria based on the recommendations of the VFMPR; (d) streamlining the of administration of youth funding via Education and Training Boards (ETBs); (e) development of an Area Profile, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement Tool; (f) development of Pilot Performance and Oversight Framework for use in the sample process and (f) introduction of a Service Level Agreement between my Department and each ETB and between the ETBs and the funded projects.

Implementation of the Review has been guided by a multi-sectoral Lead Team, with specific attention to matters related to measurement through a Measurement Advisory Group. A central recommendation of the review was that the Department should replace the existing funding programmes with a single fit-for-purpose youth scheme to target disadvantaged young people with evidence informed interventions and services that will secure good outcomes. Design of a single targeted youth funding scheme (TYFS) has been the primary focus for the Lead Team. The Lead Team has aimed to ensure that the scheme is policy driven, outcomes focused and meets the required standards of governance, performance management and compliance.

In July 2018 I indicated in a Memo to Government my intention to introduce the reformed single Targeted Youth Funding Scheme (TYFS; working title) in 2020. The strategic design process for the scheme has been informed by the measures listed above and by:

Consultation and engagement with stakeholders: The Department conducted 40 different national or regional consultation events with a range of stakeholders.

Consultation with young people: The Department conducted 3 national and 13 targeted events with young people across the country.

2019 is very much a year of preparation for implementation of the TYFS and to that end, since January of this year my Department has administered the schemes listed above as a single collapsed fund under the title of Transition Youth Funding Scheme.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (1371)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1371. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the expenditure by her Department in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19714/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Details of the expenditure incurred by my Department in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to the end of March in 2019 can be found in the table below:

2011

€000

2012

€000

2013

€000

2014

€000

2015

€000

2016

€000

2017

€000

2018

€000

2019

€000 (end of March)

Gross

214,322

422,366

407,160

999,145

1,029,373

1,088,428

1,249,984

1,386,886

427,198

A-in-A

4,254

12,387

5,351

22,898

24,598

22,007

21,024

23,669

4,933

Net

210,068

409,979

401,809

976,247

1,004,775

1,066,421

1,228,960

1,363,217

422,265

The Deputy might note that additional resources have been expended year on year and this has enabled my Department and its agencies to build and lead the efforts to improve outcomes for children and young people in Ireland.

The Revised Estimate for Public Services 2019 makes provision for a gross funding allocation of €1.510 billion for my Department which represents an increase of just under €107 million, or 8%, over the 2018 provision. The extra funding secured in 2019 continues this Government’s commitment to provide high quality services for children and young people

LEADER Programmes Administration

Questions (1372)

Dara Calleary

Question:

1372. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if consideration will be given to requesting from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform that the threshold for the requirement for e-tenders be increased in order to cut the level of bureaucracy that is hindering community groups from bringing smaller Leader projects forward. [18525/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The EU Regulations governing the LEADER Programme stipulate that national procurement requirements must be followed when funding is awarded to project applicants.

The national public procurement requirements developed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) apply to LEADER projects where the total public funding awarded represents more than 50% of the project costs. For example in relation to a ‘Works contract’ of less than €50,000, the applicant must seek written quotations from at least 5 firms or follow the eTenders process. ‘Works contracts’ over €50,000 must be published on the eTenders website.

Where the public funding awarded represents 50% or less of the project costs, the project applicant can follow more flexible LEADER specific procurement rules developed by my Department. In the case of a ‘Works contract’ under the more flexible LEADER specific rules, the applicant must seek:

- two written quotations for costs up to €10,000;

- three written quotations for costs between €10,000 and €100,000;

- five written quotations for costs above €100,000.

My Department has worked with the OGP to substantially clarify and streamline the procurement requirements for LEADER, and to provide template documents to assist potential applicants. In addition, works related LEADER projects can now be approved in principle in advance of undertaking the procurement process; this ensures that community groups have greater certainty before they commit time and resources to completing the procurement process.

My Department is also providing procurement training to staff in the Local Development Companies and the Local Authorities administering the LEADER programme. This one-day training course will equip project officers and other relevant personnel with the skills to assist project applicants in navigating the national public procurement requirements. It is envisaged that up to 200 people will receive this training between April and June 2019.

My Department's officials also have regular and ongoing engagement with the OGP with a view to simplifying the approach for community applicants obtaining LEADER funding. My Department wrote to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 28 March 2019, suggesting that community-based groups applying for LEADER funding should be treated more flexibly under procurement rules.

My Department will continue to explore this matter with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the OGP, as appropriate.

Local Improvement Scheme Administration

Questions (1373)

Peter Burke

Question:

1373. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if there have been changes to the local improvement scheme, LIS, scheme in view of the fact that a person (details supplied) is no longer eligible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18771/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. The scheme is funded by my Department and is administered through the Local Authorities.

There was no dedicated funding available for this scheme for a number of years due to constraints on public expenditure. However, I was very conscious of the underlying demand for the scheme in rural areas throughout the country and I re-launched the scheme in 2017. Since then, I have allocated over €48 million to Local Authorities for LIS roads across the country.

It is a matter for the relevant Local Authorities themselves to determine which roads they wish to prioritise within the funding allocated to them, and to ensure that all roads selected meet with the scheme criteria as set out in the Department of Environment and Local Government Memo of 2002 which governs the scheme.

In this context, eligible projects include roads which provide access to parcels of land of which at least two are owned or occupied by different persons engaged in separate agricultural activities, or which provide access for harvesting purposes (including turf or seaweed) for two or more persons, or shall in the opinion of the County Council be used by the public. Roads serving only houses or buildings occupied or used by persons not engaged in agriculture are not eligible under the Scheme.

There have been no changes to these core eligibility criteria since I reintroduced the scheme in 2017.

Grant Payments

Questions (1374)

Robert Troy

Question:

1374. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to consider streamlining the criteria required for small grants applications, for example, LEADER and CLÁR; and his views on a streamlined process for grants to up €5,000 to ease cumbersome applications. [18907/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department operates a number of schemes that can provide small-scale financial supports and grants to community groups and organisations, these include the Community Enhancement Programme and the CLÁR Programme. The application processes for these programmes are reviewed before each call for applications is issued to ensure they are user friendly and fit for purpose.

Following a review of the criteria for the CLÁR Programme, my Department initiated a process for the 2019 programme whereby local authorities further assist communities by verifying information for applicants and ensuring that all required permissions, match-funding, etc., are in place so applications fulfil all the scheme requirements.

The Community Enhancement Programme is also the result of a review of the Communities Facilities Scheme and RAPID programme and provides a more flexible, streamlined and targeted approach to providing small scale infrastructure funding of a regenerative nature to enhance facilities in disadvantaged communities.

My Department also offers information sessions and workshops for communities and groups on its funding programmes and schemes. This is done to help applicants understand the schemes, criteria which apply and with completing the application process.

 I am acutely aware of the issues faced by some communities who wish to apply for funding, but are hampered in completing applications forms in a satisfactory manner due to capacity issues.

To assist communities a series of regional ‘Rural Opportunity' information sessions were hosted by my Department recently to provide support and guidance to potential applicants for funding and to raise awareness of the wide variety of funding supports available to rural communities from across Government Departments.

In addition, the first of six 'Helping Hands' workshops took place in Ballina on 25 April 2019 with further workshops scheduled across the country throughout May 2019. This series of events is aimed at making groups more aware of grant programmes, and to provide guidance on how to make an application. The events are aimed at community groups that have had no success, or limited success, previously and aim to provide hints and tips on how to make a better application and how to identify local supports that community groups can draw upon.

The LEADER programme which comes under the remit of my Department is delivered through Local Action Groups (LAGs) in each of the 28 sub-regional areas. I am committed to making the application process for LEADER as efficient as possible for all applicants.

My Department engages regularly with the Local Action Groups (LAGs) that deliver LEADER to identify potential areas for programme improvement. Following a forum held with the LAGs in May 2017, I have implemented a series of 31 improvements to streamline the LEADER programme. I will continue to closely monitor the implementation of the LEADER Programme to ensure the process is as streamlined as possible while being mindful of the EU Regulations governing the Programme.

I believe these efforts will see any administrative barriers that may exist reduced in order that our funding has the broadest possible reach and that all eligible groups have the opportunity to access available supports.

In addition, my Department is committed to keeping under review the administration of all our funding programmes and schemes to ensure they remain fit for purpose, targeted, can be accessed by those who need the supports most and are delivering benefits for communities across the country. I welcome feedback on our programmes and schemes from communities so we can continue to do this.

Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation

Questions (1375)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1375. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the Action Plan for Rural Development commitment to developing a pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18921/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

I launched the pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages last October, and announced that six rural towns had been invited to participate in the initial pilot scheme. The scheme is being led locally by the relevant Local Authorities, in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, and is over seen by my Department.

The 6 towns which were identified for inclusion in the pilot are:

1. Boyle, Co Roscommon

2. Callan, Co Kilkenny

3. Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

4. Banagher, Co Offaly

5. Castleblayney, Co Monaghan

6. Cappoquin, Co Waterford

Funding of up to €100,000 each is being made available to the relevant towns to develop proposals to encourage town centre living. This funding will be used by the Local Authorities to engage with communities and local businesses, and identify practical solutions to increase the number of people living in their towns.

The towns in the pilot are of different sizes and in different parts of the country, each with their own strengths and challenges. Therefore, they may each come up with different solutions to meet the needs of their own area.

I will receive a report from each of the Local Authorities by the middle of the year on the progress which they have made. It is envisaged that the solutions identified could lead to the development of more substantive proposals for funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in due course.

Mobile Telephony Services

Questions (1376)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

1376. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the provision of WiFi calling; the preparedness of each provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18982/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

WiFi calling enables the use of fixed residential WiFi networks to make and receive voice calls. This improves coverage for those that have poor mobile phone reception, either through poor coverage or because of building materials impairing signal transmission.

The 2018 Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce work programme (action 14) identified the value of mobile network operators offering this service due to the increasing number of premises that have access to high-speed broadband combined with the fact that WiFi calling provides a solution to poor indoor phone coverage. It is a matter for the telecoms providers to deliver on this action.

All operators are continuing to progress their plans for the introduction of WiFi calling on their respective networks. Eir introduced WiFi calling in Q1 2017 and has experienced very strong usage by its customers to enhance their mobile experience. Vodafone introduced WiFi calling on its network in Q1 2019, in line with expectations. Three is continuing to enhance its core network coverage and also evaluating technologies for the introduction of WiFi calling.