Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (622)

Darragh O'Brien


622. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of plans to roll out nationally the Dublin region protocol for appropriate responses to child protection and welfare concerns among families in emergency accommodation. [50054/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness includes a range of measures relating to the provision of emergency accommodation and the range of supports to be provided to households experiencing homelessness.

My Department does not provide homeless service directly but contributes Exchequer funding towards housing authorities expenditure on the operational costs of homeless accommodation and related services. Funding is provided on a regional basis, whereby it is delegated to a lead authority in each region. Under funding arrangements, protocols have been put in place with each lead authority in the region. Under these protocols, the roles and responsibilities of housing authorities are set out, which include responsibilities in relation to the safety of children accessing emergency accommodation. Housing authorities are required to ensure that they are fully compliant with all statutory and non-statutory obligations arising from the Children First Act 2015 and all other legislation relating to the child safety. Housing authorities are also required to ensure that requirements relating to child safety and protection are fully communicated to all service providers in receipt of Exchequer funding.

In addition, arising out of a commitment made in Rebuilding Ireland, a specific course on child protection was developed in partnership between the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and Tusla. The DRHE has been providing Child Protection training to Private Emergency Accommodation staff, which covers their legal responsibilities under child protection legislation, reviewing the reasonable grounds for concern and the thresholds for reporting and reporting concerns where appropriate. Child protection booklets have been distributed to operators of private emergency accommodation. Child safety is also an integral element of the National Quality Standards Framework for Homeless Services, which is fully operational in Dublin and is being rolled out nationally over a 12-month period from 1 July 2019.