Youth Services Provision

Questions (249)

Martin Heydon

Question:

249. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the supports and schemes available to provide spaces for young persons in the 13 to 17 age group to meet and engage with their peers in their own communities; her plans to increase same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26972/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Both I, and my Department, are committed to ensuring that every young person in Ireland has access to the transformational power that participating in youth services can bring. Government investment in services for young people has increased since 2016 by, in the region of, €8.5m. In 2019 we have invested €63.6M in current and capital funding in clubs, services and young people 2019.

The Targeted Youth Funding Scheme has been allocated €35.18 million for 2019 to provide out of school supports to young people in their local communities to enable them to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve their full potential by strengthening their personal and social competencies. Young people aged 10 to 24 years of age who are described in the National Youth Strategy as marginalised, disadvantaged or vulnerable will be the primary target group for services available through the new scheme.

A further €11m is allocated to 30 national and major regional voluntary organisations through the Youth Service Grant Scheme. This funding is made available on an annual basis to 30 national and major regional voluntary organisations. The continued funding of voluntary youth organisations through the Scheme 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.

For 2019, just over €2m in funding is being provided to local youth groups through the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme which supports volunteer-led youth work activities at a local level. These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through local Education and Training Boards. The scheme is open to over 1,600 youth groups and clubs. Each year, over 600 local youth clubs benefit from the scheme.

In 2019 €1.37m is available through the Youth Information Centres Programme which funds 21 Youth Information Centres. The purpose of these Centres is to provide young people with access to information on rights, opportunities, benefits, health, welfare and other matters.

As the Deputy is aware my Department is currently 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. Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the mapping exercise completed in 2017, which mapped youth service provision across the State as well as an Area Profiling, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement tool which was designed in collaboration with the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector and was officially launched in January 2019. This mapping and tool will assist the Department and the relevant ETBs in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels. My Department is committed to working with ETBs to identify requirements in their area and facilitate decisions on service requirement by reference to evidenced need.

Childcare Services Regulation

Questions (250, 251, 252, 253)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

250. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the action plan on childminding of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27003/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

251. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the establishment of the expert group on registration, regulation and inspection recommended in the childminding working group report that will develop minimum regulatory standards for childminding services for children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27004/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

252. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the establishment of the expert group on quality standards recommended in the childminding working group report that will mentor and network development to recommend appropriate quality standards for childminding in line with the Síolta framework. [27005/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

253. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the establishment of the funding and financial support expert group recommended in the childminding working group report to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the funding and financial supports to childminding services. [27006/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 to 253, inclusive, together.

Officials in my Department are at the latter stages of development of a Childminding Action Plan, which I intend to publish shortly in draft form with a view to public consultation before the Action Plan is finalised.

The Childminding Action Plan will be an evidence-based plan for moving progressively towards wider regulation and support for childminders over the next ten years, and will include short, medium and longer-term commitments. It will set out a series of actions to bring childminders within the scope of mainstream provision and supports for both early learning and care and school-age childcare over the life-time of First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families.

The Childminding Action Plan will be firmly rooted in the 2018 Working Group report ‘Pathways to a Quality Support and Assurance System for Childminding’. The Action Plan will include actions across the full range of issues on which the Working Group made recommendations, including registration, regulation and inspection; quality standards and supports; and funding and financial supports.

School Admissions

Questions (254)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

254. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the action she is taking to obtain a school place for a child (details supplied). [27023/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Educational Welfare Service of Tusla (EWS) has a role in assist parents or guardians source a school place where a child cannot access one, however it cannot compel a school to make a place available for a child.

While the matter is an operational one for Tusla, I am informed that the Education Welfare Service has engaged with the family, are supporting the family in relation to obtaining a school place and in applying for Home Tuition in the absence of a school place. The Education Welfare Officer will continue to work to secure a school place for the child.

Childcare Services Data

Questions (255)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

255. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the cost of the CCS programme and the CETS programme each year since 2016 to date in tabular form; the number of children in each scheme in each of the years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27135/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The table below outlines the cost of the CCS and CETS programme from 2016 to date.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS), when introduced this October, will replace the CCS and TEC programmes with a single, streamlined scheme.

Recent analysis undertaken by the OECD has concluded that, when the NCS is introduced, the costs of Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare to parents will come closer to the OECD average. The NCS, in creating a flexible platform for future investment in funding, will allow subsidies to be expanded over time and further progress to be made.

Programme Call

Paid 2016

Paid 2017

Paid 2018

Paid 2019

Total Paid 2016-2019

Community Childcare Subvention 2016-2017

15,232,453.58

20,843,990.46

59,944.40

1,859.35

36,138,247.79

Community Childcare Subvention 2017-2018

-

23,101,733.10

27,001,876.02

-82,775.03

50,020,834.09

Community Childcare Subvention 2018-2019

-

-

16,182,223.85

15,164,638.06

31,346,861.91

TEC - Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) 2016-2017

4,451,141.12

6,487,657.74

1,250.00

-115.00

10,939,933.86

TEC - Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) 2017-2018

-

3,683,161.20

4,238,638.80

-6,743.00

7,915,057.00

TEC - Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) 2018-2019

-

-

2,476,042.93

3,126,780.80

5,602,823.73

Programme Call

No. of Unique Child Registrations

CETS 2016

3,500

CETS 2017

2,540

CETS 2018

1,873

CETS Total

7,913

Programme Call

No. of Unique Child Registrations

CCS 2016

20,572

CCS 2017

17,820

CCS 2018

12,651

CCS Total

51,043

Childcare Services Data

Questions (256)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

256. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the data she has available on the family make-up of those accessing the CCS and CETS programmes; if the number of lone parents using these childcare schemes is known; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27136/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department does not routinely collect data on the family make-up of children accessing childcare funding programmes.

Eligibility of the applying parent/guardian for the CCS programme is determined by their status with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

CETS 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.

Childcare Services Expenditure

Questions (257)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

257. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the projected cost of the proposed national childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27137/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Childcare Scheme, once introduced in October 2019, will represent a major landmark for children and families in Ireland.

The new Scheme will ultimately replace the existing targeted childcare schemes with a single, streamlined and user-friendly scheme. It entails a fundamental shift away from subsidies grounded in medical card and social protection entitlements, and towards a comprehensive and progressive system of universal and income-based subsidies. By making this shift, and by tangibly reducing the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland, the Scheme aims to improve children's outcomes, support lifelong learning, make work pay and reduce child poverty. It is also designed to have a positive impact on gender equality in relation to labour market participation and employment opportunities.

The National Childcare Scheme is scheduled to open in October, with payments flowing in November. In line with this timeframe, it is projected to cost €35m over the final two months of 2019, and to have a full-year cost of approximately €200m in 2020. These estimates include the cost of the significant enhancements which were agreed and announced as part of Budget 2019, including:

- increasing the Multiple Child Discount from €3,800 to €4,300 .

- increasing the minimum NET income threshold from €22,700 to €26,000,

- increasing the maximum NET income threshold from €47,500 to €60,000.

It should be noted that many of the families eligible for the Scheme already avail of childcare supports funded by my Department. To make the transition to the new National Childcare Scheme as smooth as possible, those families can choose to make the switch to the new Scheme in October or to remain on their current support for one final programme year. This may affect the National Childcare Scheme expenditure estimate.

In addition, the introduction of this new and innovative Scheme may impact parental choices with regard to childcare. While my Department's model takes account of this, it is based on the best available evidence-informed estimates which may need to be revisited after the Scheme launches.

The National Childcare Scheme has been designed to be flexible, with income thresholds, maximum hours and subsidy rates which can be adjusted in line with Government decisions and as more investment becomes available. As such, the Scheme will establish a sustainable platform for investment in early learning and care and school age childcare for years to come.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Questions (258)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

258. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Question No. 490 of 11 December 2018, the status of a pilot scheme; his plans to roll out the scheme on a national level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27149/19]

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 towns had been invited to participate in the initial pilot.

The primary objective of the scheme is to encourage people to return to living in town centres. This is part of a wider range of measures being taken across Government to revitalise towns and villages and address the issue of vacant premises. The scheme is being led locally by the relevant Local Authorities, in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, and is overseen 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 is being made available to each of these towns to develop proposals to encourage town centre living. The funding is being used by the Local Authorities to engage with communities and local businesses in order to identify practical solutions to repurposing vacant premises and increase the number of people living in their town centres.

It is envisaged that the solutions identified through the six pilot towns could lead to the development of more substantive proposals for funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in due course. The lessons learnt through this pilot initiative will also help to inform the Government's approach to supporting and investing in rural towns and villages in the future, including any further expansion of the approach adopted in the pilot.

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme

Questions (259)

Seán Haughey

Question:

259. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in receipt of jobseeker's benefit will be facilitated to undertake a taxi driver training course through one of two possible organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26937/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is awarded Jobseeker's Allowance from 5 November 2018.

The person concerned was referred to the Jobpath programme on 4 March 2019 for activation support over the course of a 12 month period. The Jobpath provider is Seetec Ltd, and he attends the local Seetec Office.

On the 12 June 2019, the person concerned, (through Seetec) requested an appointment with Coolock Intreo Centre staff to discuss starting self-employment as a Taxi Driver under the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme. He was informed that under current BTWEA guidelines, taxi driving is not an occupation supported under the BTWEA scheme. He is not eligible to apply for funding from the contracted Local Employment Service (LES) while he is selected on the Jobpath programme.

The person concerned can however discuss his plans for self-employment or employment with his Seetec adviser.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (260)

Robert Troy

Question:

260. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance review will be expedited in the case of a person (details supplied). [26938/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

The person concerned is in receipt of carer’s allowance (CA) for one care recipient since 3 December 2015.

My department received an application for CA for a 2nd care recipient on the 20 September 2018.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although a certain level of care was being provided the level involved did not amount to full-time care.

The person concerned was notified on 8 April 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of her application.

The outcome of the review is that the original decision is confirmed. On 21 June 2019 the person concerned was notified of this outcome and of their right of appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (261)

Pat Deering

Question:

261. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for an invalidity payment by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27019/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

A claim for IP was received from the lady referred to on 23 January 2019. Her application was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 27 February 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The lady requested a review of this decision and submitted further medical evidence in support of her request. Following a review of all the information available the deciding officer is satisfied that the conditions for the scheme are satisfied.

The lady referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 24 January 2019. Payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 11 July 2019. Any arrears due from 24 January 2019 to 10 July 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible. The lady in question was notified of this decision on 24 June 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Maternity Benefit Expenditure

Questions (262)

Peter Burke

Question:

262. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of extending paid maternity leave by four additional weeks. [27032/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks at a rate of €245 per week. The 2019 Estimates for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provide for expenditure of approximately €256 million on Maternity Benefit. The estimated additional cost of extending the duration of maternity benefit for an additional four weeks would be approximately €39 million in a full year.

There would also be additional costs for employers including substitution and public sector pay costs which would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Decisions around the extension of this benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

I have also announced the introduction of a new paid parental benefit for parents which will support parents to spend additional time with their babies and provide more flexibility in managing a work life balance. This new benefit will provide for 2 weeks paid leave to each parent of a child, age under 1 year, on parental leave from work. These 2 weeks are additional to that already available under maternity benefit and paternity benefit.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Expenditure

Questions (263)

Peter Burke

Question:

263. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of extending the number of weeks carer's benefit is paid from 104 weeks to 156 weeks. [27033/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's Benefit is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for someone in need of full-time care and attention. A person may be eligible for Carer's Benefit if they have enough PRSI contributions. This and other care-related supports, such as the Carer’s Allowance payment and the Carer’s Support Grant, provide recognition and support for the valuable role of carers.

Carer’s Benefit is payable for a maximum period of 104 weeks for each person being cared for. It can be taken in one block or in separate periods as long as the combined total does not exceed 104 weeks. The current weekly rate is €220.00. Where a person is caring for two or more care recipients, the rate of payment is increased by 50%.

At the end of May 2019, there were 2,724 carers in receipt of Carer’s Benefit. An Increase for a Qualified Child was being made in respect of 824 children, 302 of whom are aged 12 years or more. Estimated expenditure on Carer’s Benefit in 2019 is €37.83m.

It is not possible to estimate the cost of extending the number of weeks Carer’s Benefit is paid from 104 to 156 weeks due to the unpredictability of the variables underlying this payment. This is primarily due to not being able to forecast the extent of the possible duration of payment for existing recipients and also because of the potential for an increase in the number of claims if the payment is available for an extended period. Some recipients have recently started receiving payment, others are reaching the end of the max payment period and others are only in receipt of the payment for a short period of time e.g. in the case of a terminal illness.

It should be noted that not all those claiming Carer’s Benefit opt to remain in payment for the full 104 weeks. My Department examined this matter in 2017 and found that the average duration on Carer’s Benefit was 74.2 weeks between 2010 and 2016. Therefore, the current 104 week payment duration represents a reasonable length of time to support a carer’s temporary absence from work. Where care is provided beyond the period of entitlement to Carer’s Benefit, the means tested Carer’s Allowance is available for those who are in need of income support. These arrangements ensure an efficient use of public funds while assisting those who are in most need of an income support.

Furthermore the right to carer's leave from employment complements the Carer's Benefit Scheme. The Carer's Leave Act 2001 allows employees to leave their employment temporarily to provide full-time care for someone in need of full-time care and attention. A person is entitled to take carer’s leave of at least 13 weeks up to a maximum of 104 weeks. Carer's leave from employment is unpaid but the Carer’s Leave Act ensures that people who want to take carer's leave will have their jobs kept open for them while they are on carer's leave.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.