Departmental Strategies

Questions (234)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

234. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the specific sources of statutory funding for NGO services working in the areas of pre-birth, perinatal and early years parenting support to build capacity for positive parenting as envisaged in the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures strategy in view of the stated commitment to early intervention and prevention as outlined in the strategy (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27396/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Under Part 8 of the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla funds a range of organisations which provide services to vulnerable children and families, including those providing parenting supports. Organisations providing parenting supports can also apply for funding under various schemes operated by Government Departments and agencies.

As part of the First 5 Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, my Department will lead out on the development of a national model of parenting services. The model will be based on a thorough review of existing services, including identification of funding mechanisms, and informed by research on parenting support needs. The model will cover the key stages of child development and take account of parents and children in a range of contexts. As part of this work quality standards will be developed to put in place a more strategic, consistent and sustainable basis for the funding of parenting supports.

Childcare Services Data

Questions (235)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

235. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children on a waiting list for each crèche nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27441/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department funds 30 City and County Childcare Committees across the country. Part of their role is to advise my Department on capacity issues. I would encourage anyone having difficulty in securing a place to make contact with their local CCC. Contact details for all of the CCCs, in addition to other information about the services they provide, may be found on www.myccc.ie.

As regards capacity issues more generally, each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to childcare services in Ireland, including the monitoring of capacity. The Early Years Sector Profile report, which was published in November and relates to the 2017/2018 programme year, indicates that existing childcare provision nationally meets current needs nationwide in terms of capacity whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply may exist within this.

Pobal reports that nationally the trend suggests a reduction in waiting lists for older children and an increase for under twos. Pobal cautions that its data on waiting lists cannot by itself be used to inform capacity decisions as parents often place their children on more than one waiting list. The table below is the latest information available taken from the Pobal report.

County

Enrolled

Waiting list

Vacant places

Carlow

2,057

260

68

Cavan

3,120

249

104

Clare

4,280

192

383

Cork City

4,246

510

295

Cork County

14,662

869

1,032

Donegal

6,575

477

882

Dublin – Dublin City

16,075

3,492

581

Dublin – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

6,357

880

224

Dublin – Fingal

11,149

1,076

450

Dublin – South Dublin

9,294

639

373

Galway

10,514

571

620

Kerry

5,625

269

186

Kildare

8,045

350

304

Kilkenny

3,944

414

195

Laois

3,695

43

298

Leitrim

1,437

63

74

Limerick

7,805

865

278

Longford

1,685

168

59

Louth

4,297

238

197

Mayo

4,509

421

331

Meath

6,996

396

355

Monaghan

3,623

147

190

Offaly

2,697

123

225

Roscommon

2,311

172

98

Sligo

3,144

185

88

Tipperary

6,662

372

437

Waterford

4,612

274

203

Westmeath

3,781

316

385

Wexford

5,724

296

281

Wicklow

4,276

231

224

Total

173,197

14,558

9,420

Further, I secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019 with the ultimate aim of benefitting parents and children through improving our childcare infrastructure and capacity. A particular focus will be to expand service provision for children under three years of age.

Under the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan published in 2018, I ensured that Childcare was identified as one of our nation's strategic priorities. I am delighted that €250 million in additional funding has been committed to for the expansion of high quality, early learning and care and school age childcare over the duration of the Plan.

Childcare Services

Questions (236)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

236. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to create a pilot partnership between full daycare and playschools by which children who use their ECCE place in one service could be transported to another service for afternoon care, which would require public funding to purchase a vehicle or hire a local transport service in a bid to address sustainability issues for rural community playschools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27443/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Sessional services usually refer to a preschool service offering a planned programme to preschool children for no more than 3.5 hours per day for between 38 to 50 weeks per year. A full day care service refers to structured day care for children from babies up to age 13 years, for more than 5 hours per day and may include a sessional preschool service, breakfast club, and or afterschool club. Some Full Day Care Services open from 7am and remain open until 7pm, depending on the needs of parents in a particular area.

My Department currently has no plans to create a pilot partnership between full day care and sessional only services.

I am aware that some rural services can face distinct challenges to their ability to operate sustainably. To this end, my Department oversees an integrated Case Management system operated by Pobal. This Case Management service provides non-financial assistance or support in the first instance. Financial supports are also available for community services facing certain challenges which may also be accessed through Case Management following a financial assessment.

In addition, my Department is currently undertaking a sustainability review which is examining the financial situation of a range of community childcare services in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Ireland. This review is also taking account of the future introduction of the National Childcare Scheme. The review is expected to be completed shortly and will serve to inform any further sustainability measures or supports which may be required.

Childcare Services Funding

Questions (237)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

237. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if capital build funding will be provided for baby, toddler and school aged childcare places in rural areas (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27445/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Each year my Department reviews the capital programmes as a whole and determines the priorities for Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital grants. I have allocated significant funding in recent years for this purpose and for improving the quality of infrastructure nationwide.

Capital strands are made available to achieve the strategic priorities for the year as determined by the Department, having regard to the funding available, developed using analysis of the current state of the childcare sector, learnings from previous capital programmes and feedback and input from stakeholders, including childcare providers and Pobal.

Earlier this month, I announced that €6.25m in Capital funding to be awarded to providers of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare this summer. This funding will go towards the creation of additional childcare places as follows:

Strand A (Early Learning and Care): New places for 0-3 year olds

- €3.7m total approved (€50k max. grant.

- 87 applications approved for funding

- 1,321 new 0-3 places to be created: 205 0-1 places, 1,116 1-3 places

Strand C (School Age): New places for school age children

- €2.2m total approved (€20k max. grant)

- 118 applications approved for funding

- 2,308 new school age places to be created.

Whilst there are no other capital funding programmes available in 2019, planning for 2020's Capital offering is currently underway and the details of this will be communicated to providers in due course. The service may be able to apply for this funding next year when details are announced.

For services that may be facing any issues with financial sustainability, my Department oversees an integrated Case Management system which is administered by Pobal. This Case Management service provides non-financial assistance or support in the first instance. Financial supports are also available for community services facing certain challenges. These may be accessed through Case Management following a financial assessment.

Pobal have a dedicated Case Management team that works with local CCCs to assess services facing crisis situations. Upon reviewing the particulars of these cases, they may be able to provide appropriate non-financial assistance or support in collaboration with the local CCC. I would encourage any service currently experiencing sustainability challenges to contact their local Childcare Committee or Pobal

RAPID Programme

Questions (238)

John Curran

Question:

238. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if the RAPID programme has now ceased operating in view of the establishment of the community enhancement programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27376/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The original RAPID programme ran from 2001 and closed to new applications in 2011. In 2017, a nationwide re-cast RAPID programme was launched. This was different to the original programme in a number of ways. For example, it did not have designated RAPID areas or area implementation teams. All areas of the country were eligible for funding, and the funding was administered by Local Community Development Committees.

In early 2018, my Department completed a review of the re-cast RAPID programme and the Community Facilities Scheme (CFS). A report which provides information on that review, including a summary of key decisions, is available on the following link: https://assets.gov.ie/3373/271118121642-efb0703ae9a64913bd37b36278d41601.pdf

On foot of this review, I launched the new Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) in May 2018. It replaces and builds on RAPID and the CFS.

Combining these schemes makes for a more flexible, streamlined and targeted approach to providing funding to those communities most in need, while reducing the level of administration involved.

School Meals Programme

Questions (239)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

239. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure that single-use plastics are not used as containers for the hot school meals scheme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27218/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

As part of Budget 2019, I announced a pilot scheme from September 2019, providing Hot School Meals in 36 primary schools for an estimated 7,200 children at a cost of €1m for 2019 and €2.5m in 2020.

All 3,239 primary schools were issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot by 12 June. All expressions of interest received will be considered and 36 schools will be selected to participate in the pilot.

In order to be considered for the pilot the school must identify a supplier who will supply (prepare and deliver) the hot meals in line with HACCP and food safety regulations in compliance with the Healthy Ireland ‘Nutrition Standards for School Meals’. The method and logistics of supplying the meals, as well as arrangements regarding packaging are addressed between the school and the supplier. The issues regarding waste and single use plastics will be considered as part of the evaluation of the pilot.

School Meals Programme

Questions (240)

John McGuinness

Question:

240. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for the hot meals project by a school (details supplied); and when a decision will be made. [27318/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

As part of Budget 2019, it was announced that DEASP would commence a pilot scheme from September 2019, providing Hot School Meals in 36 primary schools for an estimated 7,200 children at a cost of €1m for 2019 and €2.5m in 2020.

All 3,239 primary schools have been issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot. An expression of interest has been received from the school concerned. All expressions of interest received will be considered and 36 schools will be selected to participate in the pilot. All schools who submitted an expression of interest to participate in the pilot will be contacted soon.

The selection of schools will be random, but will give regard to geographical spread, numbers enrolled, range of suppliers and the overall budget available for the pilot in 2019 and 2020 (€1m and €2.5 respectively).

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Questions (241)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

241. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if progress has been made in resolving issues regarding community employment scheme workers approaching retirement age to allow them to remain on the scheme until reaching pension age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27209/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is an employment and training scheme which helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine. The scheme assists by enhancing and developing a person’s technical and personal skills which can then be used in the workplace.

Participants and supervisors on CE schemes are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive public funding. My Department provides funding in respect of the participant and supervisors' payroll for individuals up to State Pension age.

Under the Service Support Stream (SSS) participants aged 62 years and over who meet the CE eligibility requirements may remain continuously on CE up to the State Pension age.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might best be organised into the future including which Department should hold lead responsibility for sponsoring CE schemes focused on social Inclusion. The deliberations of the group will also inform any further consideration to review participation limits.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (242)

Pat Deering

Question:

242. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will issue on an invalidity appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27215/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 3 May 2019 to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Dental Services

Questions (243)

Peter Burke

Question:

243. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for dental treatment. [27219/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Qualification for the Department's dental benefit scheme is based on satisfying certain PRSI conditions. In order to qualify, the person concerned would need to have paid 260 PRSI contributions at either Class A, E, H, P or S, since first starting work, and also have 39 contributions paid or credited in the tax year on which the claim is based; the 2017 year in this case. While the person concerned has the 260 required paid contributions, she does not have the 39 paid at the relevant rate, or credited contributions in the 2017 year. As a result, she does not satisfy the conditions for dental benefit under the Department's PRSI scheme.

However, if the she is the holder of a medical card she may be entitled to treatment under the HSE scheme. She should contact her local HSE office for assistance.

The customer's PRSI contributions both paid and credited are recorded on the her new PPS number, accordingly no issue arises from her having two numbers .

I trust this helps clarify the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (244)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

244. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27277/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this gentleman on 29 April 2019.

On 24 June 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on his eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on his DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (245)

Robert Troy

Question:

245. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [27288/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27 May 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (246)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

246. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has not received payment of an illness benefit claim even though the person received confirmation of being awarded illness benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27309/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance at a rate of €223.70 per week.

The Department has received an application for Illness Benefit from the person concerned. He has been sent a form to clarify certain details with respect to his claim. Once the completed form is received, his claim will be processed and any arrears due to him will be issued.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (247)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

247. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) will be granted time to obtain medical evidence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27310/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 21 June 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the person concerned should submit any new evidence he may have in support of his disability allowance application as soon as he receives it. The appeals system is flexible and fair, allowing for further information to be submitted by the appellant up to and including the oral hearing, if the Appeals Officer decides that an oral hearing is appropriate in the case. Any new evidence obtained by the person concerned will be considered by the Appeals Officer.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Programmes

Questions (248)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

248. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the relatively low uptake in the disability awareness training grant and the issues businesses are having with the application process, which is perceived as burdensome (details supplied); the efforts she will take to increase the uptake in the grant by businesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27321/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Through the Disability Awareness Support Scheme (DASS), my department provides financial assistance to private sector organisations to undertake staff development in order to assist the integration of people with disabilities into the workforce and to eliminate mistaken perceptions about the capacity of people with disabilities to be productive and effective employees and colleagues.

This scheme is open to all organisations in the private sector and is available for raising the awareness of personnel at all levels and in all occupations. The DASS is suitable for the following:

- Organisations interested in employing or retaining people with disabilities;

- Organisations interested in promoting the employment of people with disabilities.

There is no pre-approved list of DASS training providers. However the trainer/facilitator proposed by the applicant organisation for this grant should:

- Have a training qualification and/or relevant experience;

- Have a strong social model perspective. This means that the trainer should focus on how the physical and social barriers in society can disable an individual;

- Have an extensive knowledge of disability policy issues. The trainer should be up to date with current developments in the disability sector in Ireland;

- Have experience or awareness of disability and have developed their training programme in consultation with people with disabilities.

Further advice and help can be sourced from the following publications produced by the National Disability Authority (NDA):

Guidelines for Purchasers of Disability Equality Training

http://nda.ie/Publications/Employment/Employment-Publications/Guidelines-for-Purchasers-of-Disability-Equality-Training.html

It is important to note that DASS is a demand led scheme in that expenditure arises in response to applications received. The Department has noted that the uptake of this grant has been low and intends to commence a focused policy review of the scheme along with the Reasonable Accommodation Fund (RAF) in 2019.