Child and Family Agency Data

Questions Nos. 371 to 373, inclusive, answered with Question No. 365.

Questions (370)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

370. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children discharged from care in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30455/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy is asking about an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla and asked them to reply directly to the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 371 to 373, inclusive, answered with Question No. 365.

Child and Family Agency Services

Questions (374)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

374. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which her Department can provide a rapid response in respect of children suspected of various forms of abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30459/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is the body responsible for child protection and welfare. Tusla has adopted Signs of Safety as the national approach to practice, as well as a standard business process that sets out timelines for responses to referrals and assessment of reported concerns. All cases where a child is deemed to be at immediate risk receive a same day response, and after hours and weekends there is an Out of Hours social work service available. Cases that cannot be allocated to a social worker following preliminary enquries are described as 'active on duty' and receive a service from the duty social work team until a specific social worker is allocated.

Tusla publishes monthly data on a range of metrics, including the waiting time for a case to be allocated to a social worker. Cases are prioritised as 'high', 'medium' or 'low' (it is important to note that priority level does not equate to the risk level of a case), and as of April 2019 there were 1,008 cases of 'high' priority awaiting allocation nationally . For context, there were 4,903 new referrals to child protection and welfare services in the same month.

Timely response to reported concerns is a key objective for Tusla, and my Department officials work closely with the senior management team to reduce waiting times, including through investment in partnership, prevention and family support services that provide for a community-led response to referrals that do not reach the threshold for a child protection or social-work led intervention.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (375)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

375. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the budget available to her Department to cater for the full extent of her responsibilities including the protection of children, the monitoring of at-risk cases and the follow-up as necessary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30460/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Gross funding of €1.51 billion is being made available to my Department for 2019. This represents an increase of €107 million or 8% over the 2018 allocation. At the end of June 2019, overall spending is in line with projections and I am satisfied that the significant additional resources secured for 2019 enables my Department and its agencies to build on the good work achieved to date and to continue this Government’s commitment to provide quality services for children and young people.

Childcare Services Provision

Questions (376)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

376. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she is satisfied regarding the availability of childcare facilities in view of the increasing necessity for both parents to be at work and to meet the requirements of one parent families; the ongoing work being undertaken to improve provisions in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30461/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

A key priority for me as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is to ensure access to high quality and affordable early years and school-age childcare services.

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 most recent Early Years Sector Profile 2017/2018, published in November 2018 indicates that existing childcare provision in general meets the needs nationwide in terms of capacity. Latest available data from Pobal indicates that in general there remains no issue in relation to capacity.

I am delighted to have secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019. This funding will be used to meet the most pressing needs of the sector with the ultimate aim of benefitting parents and children through improving our childcare infrastructure.

Furthermore, under the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan published earlier this year, I ensured that Childcare was identified as one of our nation's strategic priorities with €250 million in additional funding to expand childcare capacity over the duration of the Plan.

Also in 2019, I provided €4m in capital funding to support additional places for under threes and €1m to support additional places for school age care. Successful applicants have been notified and I anticipate that this funding will support the creation of approximately 3,600 new and extra spaces for children up to the age of 15.

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

Many parents opt to use childminders to care for their pre-school and school-age children so I was delighted to secure €500,000 in Budget 2019 to recruit a National Childminding Coordinator and a team of six Development Officers around the country, to support the registration of more childminders with Tusla and thus enable them to access subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS), due to be launched later this year will also be a significant intervention to address this challenge. The NCS recognises the different costs associated with providing childcare for children of different ages. The Scheme will provide for a progressive system of subsidies starting with the highest subsidy rates for children under 1(up to €5.10 per hour) and the next highest subsidy for children from 1 to under 3 (up to €4.35 per hour).

Through the National Childcare Scheme and a range of other measures, I am committed to changing Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the very best. In designing the National Childcare Scheme, extensive research and consultations have been carried out to ensure that this goal is achieved and that the Scheme can help as many families as possible.

The National Childcare Scheme will greatly increase the number of families who can access financial support. The Scheme removes many of the restrictive eligibility requirements of the existing support programmes, whereby a parent must be in receipt of certain Social Protection payments or a Medical Card in order to receive targeted supports. In this way, it aims to combat the poverty traps which may exist within the existing schemes, and to make work pay for parents. Many parents will see an increase to the level of subsidy they currently receive. For example, a family with a child aged two in full-time care (40 hours) and currently benefitting from the maximum subsidy of €145 per week under CCS Band A, would see their subsidy increase to €174 per week, an additional subsidisation of €1,500 per annum.

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. Indeed, international reports have stated 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.

Arrangements are in place to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new Scheme. So, whilst there may have been fears that, in a small number of cases, where a family currently receiving the maximum amount of financial support for full-time childcare under an existing programme may receive less under the new Scheme, they will not lose out. The family can continue to access their current targeted supports (i.e. effectively remain on their current payment) until the end of August 2020.

After-School Support Service Provision

Questions (377)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

377. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which she remains satisfied regarding the availability of community child support services including the provision of support for after-school activities through youth clubs and similar bodies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30462/19]

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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 in 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.

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.

Counselling Services Provision

Questions (378)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

378. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she envisages improved counselling services for children at risk and their families in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30463/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise the Deputy that I do not have a role in the provision of counselling services. Counselling services are a matter for the HSE, which falls under the policy remit of my Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Health.

Departmental Shareholdings

Questions (379)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

379. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will provide details of all entities in which he or his Department hold shares; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30190/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

I can confirm that no shareholdings are held in any entity by my Department, or vested in me in my capacity as Minister for Rural and Community Development.

Departmental Contracts Data

Questions (380)

Martin Heydon

Question:

380. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the contracts his Department and agencies under his remit are engaged in for the provision of security services; the name of each contractor; the procurement process involved; the duration of each contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30248/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department does not have any contracts currently in place in relation to security services.

I can also confirm that the Charities Regulator and Pobal also currently have no such contracts in place.

The Western Development Commission and Water Safety Ireland have contractual arrangements in place in relation to basic building security, details of which are set out in the following table.

Agency:

Contractor Name:

Purpose:

Procurement Process:

Duration:

Western Development Commission

Top Security Alarms Ltd.

Alarm Monitoring

Restricted Tender

1 Year

Western Development Commission

Lock Up Alarms Ltd.

Alarm Maintenance

Restricted Tender

1 Year

Water Safety Ireland

G4S Security Services Ltd.

Alarm Monitoring

Open Tender

3 Years

Water Safety Ireland

Securecom Systems Ltd.

Alarm Maintenance

Open Tender

3 Years