Childcare Services Funding

Questions (690)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

690. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the timeline for the completion of the sponsorship agreement in advance of the roll out of the national childcare service; the status of the training for frontline staff that will be involved in the administration of the sponsorship service; if detailed qualifying criteria have been agreed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29457/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Childcare Support Act 2018 makes provision for specific statutory bodies to access childcare to support vulnerable children and families and for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to enter into formal agreements with the various bodies for these purposes.  Engagement is ongoing between my officials and each of the bodies in relation to the terms of agreements under which vulnerable children will be referred to the scheme.  The terms of each agreement will include such matters as the qualifying criteria under which children will be referred.

Engagement is very advanced and is progressing well.  It is anticipated that agreements will be in place with each of the bodies before the launch of the National Childcare Scheme in the Autumn.

Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the families will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy any income test.  The agreement between the Minister and each sponsor body will specify details under which children will be referred, including age limits having regard to the provisions of the Act.

Training will be provided for frontline staff who will be involved in the referral of vulnerable children to the National Childcare Scheme under sponsor agreements. Detailed and comprehensive training sessions, tailored specifically for referrals under sponsor arrangements, will be made available to staff in the various bodies.   The training programme will commence in the coming months.

Childcare Services

Questions (691)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

691. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to an issue (details supplied) regarding the roll out of the national childcare service; if her Department has assessed the potential impact of this on the uptake of the scheme with service providers; the discussions that have taken place with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29458/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

It is important to note that the matter of rates payments for the early learning and care sector does not fall under the remit of my Department, nor does my Department have a role in determining which properties are rateable. The levying of commercial rates is the responsibility of the Valuations Office, which falls under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 

The Valuation Act, 2001 as amended by the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015 provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose, including constructions affixed thereto, are rateable unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4 of the Act.  Under Schedule 4, paragraph 22, community childcare facilities are exempt from commercial rates, by virtue of the fact that they operate on a not-for-profit basis. The Valuations Office have also advised that, under Schedule 4 paragraph 10, facilities who provide the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) only are exempt from commercial rates.  All other childcare providers are, therefore, rateable.

My Department has made considerable investment in the provision of affordable and accessible quality childcare, and I am conscious that the issue of commercial rates may be a barrier to achieving these goals. 

I am also conscious of this issue in the context of the introduction of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), the new, national scheme of financial support for parents towards the cost of childcare, in October 2019.  If an ECCE-only service wishes to offer NCS it will become liable for commercial rates.  This disincentivisation to provide wraparound services has the potential to create capacity issues within the sector, at a time when my Department is seeking to increase capacity. 

The issue of commercial rates is one that has been raised by the early learning and care sector, in particular through the National Early Years Forum, which I established in 2016.  My Department has therefore taken a number of steps to pursue this matter, including meeting with relevant officials to explore the possibility of obtaining an exemption of the application of commercial rates to private childcare providers, on the basis that they are educational facilities.

Most recently I contacted the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, requesting reconsideration of the position of private childcare facilities in respect of their rateability for commercial rates.  It was confirmed that there are no proposals under consideration for a discount of commercial rates for private childcare providers, and that the Commissioner of Valuation has no discretionary latitude to grant exemptions not covered by Schedule 4 of the Act.

My Department and I have made every effort to raise the concerns of the early learning and care sector in this respect, however as the matter falls outside the remit of my Department, I am constrained in the role I can play.  My Department will, however, continue to monitor this matter and raise it where appropriate.

Adoption Data

Questions (692)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

692. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of adoption tracing inquiries received by Tusla in the past 12 months by domestic and intercountry adoptions in tabular form. [29465/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to them for a direct reply.

Adoption Data

Question No. 694 answered with Question No. 688.

Questions (693)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

693. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of adoption information inquiries, including GDPR or subject access requests, received by Tusla in the past 12 months by domestic and intercountry adoptions in tabular form. [29466/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to them for a direct reply.

Question No. 694 answered with Question No. 688.

Gender Proofing of Policies

Questions (695)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

695. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the national childcare scheme has been gender proofed. [29598/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

One of the stated policy objectives of the National Childcare Scheme is to support labour market activation and participation, including female labour market participation.

The original policy paper for the scheme, published in October 2016,  considered international evidence on the effects of more affordable childcare on labour market participation. Using the best available evidence, it modelled likely impacts and found that a decrease in childcare costs in Ireland, through a mechanism such as the National Childcare Scheme, would see a resulting rise in female labour market participation.

 In late 2017, a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) was published alongside the Childcare Support Bill 2017.  At the outset, the RIA referenced the European Commission statement that "The availability and cost of quality fulltime childcare present barriers to female labour market participation and hinder efforts to reduce child poverty".  It then analysed the costs, benefits and impacts of the National Childcare Scheme, finding it to result in wider eligibility for childcare subsidies and positive labour market incentives.

  The National Childcare Scheme will greatly increase the number of families who can access financial support for quality childcare, thereby supporting labour market participation, female labour market participation and poverty reduction.

 At a broader level, the implementation of the Scheme is also referenced as an action in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017- 2020.  

 Finally, in addition to gender-proofing the Scheme, I have also worked to poverty-proof the Scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the highest subsidy rates under the Scheme.  Analysis by the OECD finds that the Scheme will significantly address affordability for lower income families, with analysis showing that Ireland will, for example, change from being the most expensive country in the OECD for childcare for lone parents, to 11th position.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Questions (696)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

696. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of refuge places for families that have experienced domestic violence by county or local authority. [29725/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I understand the Deputy's question relates to a request for the total number of domestic violence refuge units including both family units and single occupancy units by county in tabular form.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides funding and coordination supports to some 59 organisations that deliver a range of services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence throughout the country.

In 2019, €25.3 million is being allocated to Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services, an increase of €1.5 million over 2018. With these additional resources, Tusla will be able to provide:

- A 10% increase in funding to sexual violence services,

- 12 new outreach workers for women and children affected by domestic violence to improve access to support and services,

- The national roll out of a 12 week healing programme for children who have been impacted by domestic abuse,

- The opening in the Autumn of a new refuge in South Dublin,

- A specific initiative to reduce the waiting times for counselling for victims of sexual violence.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to the total number of domestic violence refuge units including both family units and single occupancy units by county.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (697)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

697. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of social workers employed by Tusla by region in tabular form. [29779/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As this is an operational matter for Tusla, my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this issue.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (698)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

698. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of link workers employed by Tusla by region in tabular form. [29780/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As this is an operational matter for Tusla, my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this issue.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (699)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

699. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children waiting on the appointment of a social worker by region in tabular form; and the average length of time such children have been on a waiting list. [29781/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

This question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

I can inform the Deputy that data on the number of cases awaiting allocation is reported monthly, and published in the National Performance and Activity Dashboard on the Tusla website.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (700)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

700. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of families waiting on the appointment of a fostering link worker by region in tabular form; and the average length of time such families have been on a waiting list. [29782/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

This question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

School Completion Programme

Questions (701)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

701. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of school completion programmes in operation nationally; the number of children availing of such programmes; and the breakdown of such programmes by county in tabular form. [29783/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There are 124 School Completion Programmes nationally providing interventions to 69,775 children and young people to support attendance, participation and retention across School Completion Programme cluster schools.

 The number of School Completion Programmes broken down by county is set out in the following table.

County

No of SCP’s

Carlow

2

Cavan

1

Clare

2

Cork

11

Donegal

5

Dublin

47

Galway

5

Kerry

2

Kildare

4

Kilkenny

1

Laois

1

Limerick

7

Longford

1

Louth

5

Mayo

2

Meath

2

Monaghan

3

Offaly

2

Roscommon

1

Sligo

1

Tipperary

5

Waterford

3

Westmeath

2

Wexford

5

Wicklow

4

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (702)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

702. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the progress made in recruiting social workers for Tusla; the number of social workers that left Tusla in the past year; the number recruited in the past year; the number of social workers that left within one year of being recruited; the number of administrative staff recruited in the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29784/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have submitted this to Tusla for direct response to the Deputy.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Questions (703)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

703. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of domestic violence refuges and refuge places nationally; her plans to increase provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29785/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides funding and coordination supports to some 59 organisations that deliver a range of services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence throughout the country. 22 of these organisations provide emergency accommodation for victims of domestic violence.

 In 2019, €25.3 million is being allocated to Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services, an increase of €1.5 million over 2018. 

 With these additional resources, Tusla will be able to provide five additional emergency family accommodation units in South Dublin by the end of Quarter 3, 2019, with the opening of a new domestic violence refuge.  The refuge will accommodate 5 adults and up to 15 children.

Other initiatives facilitated by extra resources in 2019 are:

- A 10% increase in funding to sexual violence services,

- 12 new outreach workers for women and children affected by domestic violence to improve access to support and services,

- The national roll out of a 12 week healing programme for children who have been impacted by domestic abuse,

- A specific initiative to reduce the waiting times for counselling for victims of sexual violence.

  With regard to the future provision of additional refuge spaces, it should be noted that the responsibility for capital investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. Tusla is in contact with funded organisations in relation to proposed new developments, with plans underway in a number of areas for additional refuge spaces. These plans are at various stages. 

Any additional funded developments will be informed by Tusla’s review of emergency refuge accommodation nationwide, and the identified needs of service users throughout the country.  

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to the total number of domestic violence refuge units and refuge spaces nationally. 

School Completion Programme

Questions (704)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

704. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of school completion programmes operating nationally; the number of staff employed in the scheme on a full-time, part-time and sessional basis in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29787/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The School Completion Programme is a core programme under the DEIS programme and is one of three service strands under Tusla’s Educational Welfare Services (EWS) providing direct interventions to children and young people. Each year since the programme transferred to Tusla in 2014, €24.7 million in funding has been allocated to the School Completion Programme projects nationally. There are 124 SCPs currently operating nationally.

 The following table sets out the number of staff employed in SCPs .Figures are based on the most recent plans submitted by the 124 SCP’s.

Number of SCP Staff

Full-time

Part-time

Sessional

219

195

1191

 

Government Pay Policy

Questions (705)

Bríd Smith

Question:

705. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of paying childcare workers across the sector directly by her Department on a pay scale in line with primary school teachers. [29794/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care settings, and I cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for these staff. As a result, my Department is not in a position to estimate the cost of directly paying staff on a pay scale in line with primary school teachers.

I am, however, doing all that is in my power to improve wages and working conditions in the sector. I have repeatedly called for the sector to pursue a Sectoral Employment Order, which offers a viable mechanism to establish appropriate wage levels. My Department will readily co-operate with such a process when it is underway.

In the interim, I have introduced a range of measures to support employers to improve pay and conditions. These include a 7% increase in ECCE capitation in 2018; higher capitation payments for graduates and Inclusion Co-ordinators; annual Programme Support Payments to recognise administrative demands; support for School-Age Childcare which will make it easier to offer full-time employment contracts; and a pilot measure to fund participation in CPD. 

I have set out my vision for the sector, and a roadmap to achieve it, in First 5. First 5 commits to a Workforce Development Plan, to raise the profile of careers in the sector and to ensure sufficient numbers of staff at all levels. The Steering Group for the Workforce Development Plan met for the first time on 30 May, and the Stakeholder Group held its first meeting earlier this week. First 5 also commits to develop a new funding model for the sector, which may open up new mechanisms to influence pay and conditions.   

Family Resource Centres

Questions (706)

John Curran

Question:

706. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount allocated to each family resource centre in each of the years 2016 to 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29808/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

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

In Budget 2019, I secured an increase of €1.5 million for the FRC Programme.  This brings the overall financial allocation for the Programme to €18 million.

This additional funding will be used to:

- Increase core funding to each of the 110 FRCs which existed pre-2018 by 5%. 

- Employ an additional 17 Family Support Workers - one FRC in each of the 17 Tusla geographical areas will be allocated funding to employ a Family Support Worker. 

- Fund the Family Resource Centre Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Programme.

The allocation of funding to individual Family Resource Centres is an operational matter for Tusla. I have requested Tusla to provide the Deputy with the requested information directly.

Youth Services Funding

Questions (707)

John Curran

Question:

707. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the development of a single targeted youth funding programme; if she is satisfied that funding is now targeted at the most disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29809/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Implementation of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Funding Programmes been a priority for my Department for some time and represents a significant multistrand change management programme.

Replacement of the existing four targeted schemes with a fit for purpose single targeted scheme is one of the key recommendations of the review. In July 2018 I brought the high-level scheme outline to Government for Information; this outline was arrived at following detailed consultation with the sector and young people, relevant evidence review and a sampling process. The outline stated that young people aged 10 to 24 years of age who are described in the National Youth Strategy (NYS) as marginalised, disadvantaged or vulnerable will be the primary target group for services available through the TYFS.

This outline has since provided the basis for further development of the scheme, the final drafting process of which is currently underway. In addition to development of the new scheme, significant other changes have been introduced including; in January of this year, four funding streams were successfully collapsed in to one scheme in advance of the introduction of the new scheme in 2020. In April 2019, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed between my Department and each of the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and the process of transferring funds to their functional ETB area began on a phased basis.

Throughout this reform my Department has been engaging proactively with the stakeholders and sample services in relation to various component of the new scheme. In 2018, 6 ETBs participated in a trial and co-design of the Area Profile, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement Tool (APNARS). The tool is designed to enable Education and Training Boards (ETB), who have a mid-level governance role in the new youth funding scheme, to gather and use available demographic data and local knowledge to produce an area profile of their ETB functional area to enable better targeting of services for young people. Based on the information gathered, the ETB analyse the needs of young people in the area and consider the extent to which these needs are being met within existing youth service provision. Completing the tool provides ETBs with a systematic and evidence-informed assessment of needs to inform judgements about priorities for service provision. It also ensures that youth services/projects funded under the new scheme are focused on working to meet the identified needs and key issues in the area in line with the stated objectives of the new scheme. The tool also provides a standardised national template for producing an area profile, needs assessment and Service Requirement document across all ETBs. The tool is a critical component in an evidence-informed approach to providing well targeted services to young people. Service Requirement documents will issue from ETBs to services/projects who are applying for funding through the grant application process on the targeted groups and key issues that are priority.

Youth Services Data

Questions (708)

John Curran

Question:

708. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of new youth projects that commenced in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 under the young persons facilities and services fund; the location of the projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29810/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy’s question refers to new youth projects set up under the young persons facilities and services fund (YPFSF 1 and 2) for the years 2017 to 2019.  No new services were set up under this funding in that period. 

However, as the Deputy may be aware, my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This reform is informed by the Value for Money and Policy Review (VFMPR) of the Youth Funding Programmes 2014.  The VFMPR of the Youth Funding Programmes 2014 examined three of the targeted funding schemes, the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund, the Special Projects for Youth (SPY) scheme and Local Drug Task Force projects scheme.  Overall, the review found that the youth programmes can provide a significant contribution to improving outcomes for young people and should be considered for on-going public funding. 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 focussed programme designed to secure the optimal outcomes for young people. The review recommended the development of a single targeted youth funding programme to replace the current schemes.

To facilitate the review’s recommendations regarding the future development of a single targeted youth funding programme to replace the current schemes, I approved funding allocations for the establishment of several sample projects in 2016 and 2017.

There are now 23 such sample projects approved since 2016, of which 21 were operational in 2018 and a further two are to commence in 2019. Of the 23 projects, seven have involved the augmentation of existing projects to respond to identified needs.

I am circulating a set of tables with details of the 23 sample projects, by year of first approval.

In determining the sample projects for funding, my Department has worked closely with the 16 Education and Training Boards, all of which were invited to nominate locations within their catchment areas for new and augmented projects.

The 23 sample projects fall within ten of the ETB areas. The remaining six ETBs are currently involved in a process to identify the local needs of young people in these areas, with a view to submitting applications for new or augmented services in 2019.

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 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.          

I believe that the reformed system will bring substantial benefits to our young people, and my Department will continue with this important work.  

New Sample Projects approved 2016

Location

ETB

Boomerang Youth Service Drogheda, Co Louth

Louth Meath ETB

Crosscare Youth Service West Wicklow   

Kildare Wicklow ETB

Cahir Youth Project, CoTipperary

Tipperary ETB

Fethard/ Killenaule Youth Project, Co Tipperary

Tipperary ETB

Bounce Back Youth Project, East Cavan, Co Cavan

Cavan Monaghan ETB

Roscommon VFM Project, Co Roscommon

Galway Roscommon ETB

Augmented Projects approved 2017

Location

ETB

Include Youth Service Co Monaghan

Cavan Monaghan ETB

Cloyne Diocesian Youth 

Service Project Middleton

Cork ETB

Crosscare – East Wicklow Youth Service

Kildare Wicklow ETB

Ossory Youth Kilkenny

Gateway Project (YWI)

Kilkenny Carlow ETB

Croom Foróige Youth Project, Croom Co Limerick   

Limerick Clare ETB

Co Longford Youth Service (CLYS)

Longford Westmeath ETB

Templemore Youth Project & Thurles Youth Project, Co Tipperary

Tipperary ETB

New Sample Projects approved 2017

Location

ETB

Bounce Back Youth Project West Cavan   

Cavan Monaghan ETB

Carrigaline Youth Project, Co Cork

Cork ETB

Mitchelstown Youth Project, Mitchelstown, Co Cork

Cork ETB

Dublin Rural North (Skerries)

Dublin Dun Laoghaire ETB

Tyrrelstown Youth Project Dublin 15

Dublin Dun Laoghaire ETB

County Longford Project

Longford Westmeath ETB

Foroige Gort Youth Project, Gort, Co Galway

Galway Roscommon ETB

Tullow Community Youth Project, Tullow Co Carlow

Kilkenny Carlow ETB

Garryowen Youth Project, Garryowen, Co Limerick

Limerick Clare ETB

Foroige Ballyhaunis Youth Project, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB  

School Completion Programme

Questions (709)

John Curran

Question:

709. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of on the new school completion strategy to further improve school completion rates particularly in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29811/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Education and schooling are critical in the lives - and indeed life chances - of children and young people. As part of the range of responses in place that support children in completing their schooling, the School Completion Programme is key. This programme provides learner-centred and holistic supports for young people who are at risk of leaving school early.  Indeed, I believe that this programme, along with the Home school Community Liaison Scheme and the DEIS programme, has played an important part in the achievement of our high rates of school retention.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to prepare a School Completion Strategy. Having considered the existing and emerging needs in this area, I directed my officials to take a strategic approach to the subject of school engagement and retention. I am pleased to say that my Department has produced a Blueprint for the Development of Educational Welfare and Alternative Education, Assessment and Registration Services, which is currently being consulted on.

This policy platform comprehends the both the strategic and operational actions that need to be advanced to ensure the best possible system of supports for tackling educational engagement and retention are in place and integrated.

My Department works with the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) in Tusla to ensure that necessary resources are available to support this programme and to ensure staffing levels are sufficient to deliver a high quality service for those young people most at risk of early school leaving, particularly in DEIS schools. In Budget 2019 I secured an additional €500,000 in funding for the EWS and the Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service. And I will continue to lead on advancing supports both in policy and provision in this crucial area.

Commissions of Investigation Expenditure

Questions (710)

David Cullinane

Question:

710. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29828/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There is currently one commission of investigation currently under way for which I am the specified Minister under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. This is the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters) and it is chaired by Judge Yvonne Murphy.

The commission is independent in the performance of its functions and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any aspects of their work. However, I can confirm costs to date in relation to the work of the Commission. This includes expenditure incurred directly by the Commission itself and costs incurred directly by my Department in supporting their work and responding to various interim reports. This expenditure also includes costs associated with   processes I have commenced to complement the Commission's work by facilitating former residents of these institutions to directly engage on the issues of concern to them and their families.

Year

Expenditure

2019

€1.5m

2018

€3.0m

2017

€2.7m

2016

€2.3m

2015

€1.7m

There have been no other tribunals, committees of investigation or statutory inquiries for which I was the specified Minister.  

Child and Family Agency Expenditure

Questions (711)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

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.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (712)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

712. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of Tusla staff trained in the use of signs of safety since its inception; the number that remain with Tusla; and the number of staff not trained in the practice. [29940/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Child and Family Agency

Questions (713)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

713. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a practice (details supplied) used by Tusla is provided under a licence agreement; and if so, the budget for such an agreement. [29941/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The practice referred to by the Deputy is an innovative strengths-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework. It is a child protection methodology, which has at its core the involvement of the child in any assessment and decision making process.

As any license agreement and associated budget are operational matters for Tusla, I have requested Tusla to respond to the Deputy directly.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (714)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

714. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of aftercare workers employed by Tusla by location and professional title. [29942/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As this is an operational matter for Tusla, my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this issue.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (715)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

715. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of vacancies for social workers that exist for which funding is available but posts cannot be filled due to difficulties recruiting staff by location. [29943/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (716)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

716. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of social workers employed by Tusla in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 from recruitment agencies; the cost of using such companies; and the location of such agency staff. [29944/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.