Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (65)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains satisfied that adequate counselling, support and rescue services remain available through her Department to meet the requirements of at-risk children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51481/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla ensures counselling services are available through the provision of funding of over €6m to 250 voluntary organisations at national, regional and local level. These organisations offer a variety of counselling and support services including marriage and relationship counselling and child and adolescent counselling. Tusla also funds peer support programmes for children and, very importantly, bereavement counselling. Many of these counselling services are offered through Family Resource Centres.

Tusla provides a range of support services to families in their parenting role, and where more serious risks to children are identified. In the main these are provided by family resource centres and by a range of funded organisations, such as Barnardos. These organisations work with families when problems are first identified, and also work with children and families assessed as needing a higher level of intervention. Tusla child protection services work in partnership with support services to ensure the most appropriate type of help is in place, depending on the individual circumstances of each child.

In the first half of 2019, Tusla spend over €2m on private therapists to provide therapeutic services to children in care and at risk where they were not able to access a suitable public service.

It is important that I stress that if a child appears to be at risk of harm or neglect, Tusla should be notified as soon as possible. If there is an immediate danger, An Garda Síochána should be contacted without delay. The Gardaí have specific powers under Section 12 of the Child Care Act to remove a child from a situation of danger, and under Section 13 of that same Act to deliver the child into the custody of Tusla. Tusla will at that point carry out an assessment to determine the child's needs. This may in some cases include applying for an Emergency Care Order. In all cases, a plan will be put in place to ensure that the child is safe from harm and their care needs are met.