Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (80)

Maureen O'Sullivan


80. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 22 October 2019 and her acknowledgement to correspondence of 5 November 2019, the progress made regarding the points raised about the difficulties encountered by a voluntary service (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51335/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I thank the Deputy for her question. I have sought a detailed account from Tusla of the background to their decision in regard to this children's residential centre, and have set this out below.

Tusla have informed me that its Children’s Residential Services section (CRS) had, in meetings on 5 April and 8 August 2019, raised a number of concerns regarding the centre's non-compliance with the financial and governance requirements set out in the Service Level Agreement between the centre and Tusla.

To address these issues, Tusla CRS recommended that the centre amalgamate with another, well-known, voluntary provider, which has robust governance arrangements in the areas of management structure, finance, and human resources. Amalgamation, I understand, would allow the centre to respond more effectively to the regulatory environment, would secure the sustainability of the service, and thus would promote better outcomes for children and young people in its care into the future.

Regrettably, the proposed amalgamation was turned down by the Board of the centre. Consequently, the Regional Manager for Tusla CRS Dublin North East gave the service six months notice of termination of the Service Level Agreement, as per Section 15 of that Agreement, in a letter of 7 October. The letter also thanked “the Board of [the centre], [the manager] and her team for all the very good work and dedication shown to the young people in her care over the years”. Critically, this letter also left it open for the Board of the centre to review their decision.

It is very clear that nobody involved in this matter—not Tusla, not the centre's Board, not the centre's staff, not the young people the centre serves, not yourself or myself—wishes the service to close. However, as I’m sure you’ll agree, adherence to appropriate standards in governance, particularly with regard to services funded by the taxpayer, is important in delivering good outcomes and a sustainable service for vulnerable children and young people.

Work on these issues is ongoing, and I understand that representatives from Tusla and the centre are to meet in the coming days to further discuss matters.