Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (711)

Seán Sherlock


711. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the budget and expenditure costs for an organisation (details supplied). [29939/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

It should be noted that Meitheal is not an organisation, it is a national practice model which operates as part of the Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS). PPFS is a programme of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, as part of its National Service Delivery Framework. The programme seeks to strengthen and develop Tusla’s prevention, early intervention and family support services.

PPFS has been driven by a logic model which aims to realise a series of medium-term and long-term outcomes for the programme. In the medium-term, these outcomes include ensuring the effective operation of Tusla’s prevention and early intervention services, increasing the rigour of the agency’s commissioning approach, and embedding the participation of children and parents in Tusla’s culture and operations. In the longer term, it includes improved outcomes for children and parents, and value for money in service provision, achieved through shifting Tusla’s family support budget in favour of evidence-informed prevention and early intervention services.

It aims to achieve these outcomes through five main operational work streams. These work streams are Meitheal and Child and Family Support Networks, Children’s Participation, Parenting Support and Parental Participation, Public Awareness, and Commissioning.

In practice the Meitheal model focuses on identifying, understanding, and responding to the needs and strengths of children, young people and families in a timely manner to provide help and support to improve outcomes. It is intended to be used when children and young people need support around, for example, behavioural issues or emotional needs, but do not meet the threshold for an intervention by Tusla’s Child Protection and Welfare service.

The family’s voluntary involvement in identifying their strengths and needs and developing associated action plans is a key part of the process. In some cases, a single organisation can provide support but in general a team of people from a number of agencies with relevant expertise is brought together to work with the parents or guardians, the child or young person. A co-ordinated action plan is developed to meet the needs of the child or young person and if necessary other family members. Regular meetings are held to review the progress made and to discuss possible new actions.

PPFS was subject to an evaluation study by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, published in September 2018. The evaluation found that the Meitheal practice model was improving family outcomes, particularly among mothers, and that it was valued by participating families.

For 2019, a budget of €9.5 million has been allocated to the PPFS and Area-Based Childhood (ABC) Programmes. This figure includes €8.2 million which has been ring-fenced for the ABC Programme funding community based prevention services. €1.3 million has been allocated to support the PPFS, and the ABC Programme has transitioned to the PPFS. To consolidate this important work the PPFS is a central subgroup of each Children and Young People's Services Committees (CYPSC) which are in place in every county.  My Department has led this strategic development and integration to ensure that a robust prevention and early intervention infrastructure comprising all relevant services is in place in local communities.