Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (66)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

66. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if financial containment by organisations is having an impact on services (details supplied). [29934/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I understand that the Deputy's question relates to financial containment and financial challenges facing Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. 

In 2019, Tusla has an allocation of some €787 million for the provision of its full range of services, an increase of 4.1% over its funding for 2018. Tusla's funding has increased from €609m in 2014, a rise of some 29.3% over five years. 

In common with many other public agencies, Tusla faces challenges in delivery of a quality service for children and families within a finite budget. In its Business Plan for 2019, Tusla identified a number of challenges, relating to the increasing cost of some services, and the continuing shortage of social workers and other professionals in the labour market. 

Among the key drivers of costs for Tusla is in the area of residential services for our most vulnerable  young people - those whose needs can only be met in a residential environment rather than with a foster family. 

Another key driver relates to the increasing number of child protection and welfare referrals. For example in April, 2019, Tusla received 4,903 child protection and welfare referrals which is an increase of 852 (21%) since January 2019. This reflects a pattern of increasing referrals over time, which Tusla is dealing with.  

The monthly average number of referrals in 2019 to date is some 5% higher than the monthly average in 2018. 

Tusla is working with my Department to ensure that it provides a full range of services within budget. 

In relation to staffing, Tusla continues its work to recruit sufficient numbers of staff including social workers. In this context, it is important to note that  all necessary funding has been provided for social worker and social care worker posts.  

The challenge in this area lies in the ability to recruit and retain staff rather than the availability of resources to fund them. 

My Department will continue  to work closely with Tusla in relation to service and  funding issues throughout the current year.