Written Answers. - Social Workers.

Dick Spring

Ceist:

145 Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if, in light of the fact that there is only one social worker on call each night for the entire Dublin area, he will outline the specific plans, if any, his Department have to hire more social workers specifically for the Eastern Health Board's after-hours services for homeless children; and if he will publish a timetable for their hiring.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the After-Hours Social Worker Service for the young homeless, which operates as part of the child care services provided by the Eastern Health Board. The need for such a service was identified late last year in discussions which my colleague Chris Flood T.D., Minister of State had with both the Eastern Health Board and representatives of the various voluntary agencies working with the young homeless in the Dublin area.

The service was introduced by the Board, on a trial basis, with effect from 19 March. A rostered social worker is on duty each night and at weekends. While there have been some initial teething problems, the service has been warmly welcomed by those agencies, both statutory and voluntary, who have come in contact with it.
The operation of the service, will be comprehensively reviewed at the end of the initial three month period and at that point all aspects of the service, including staffing, will be evaluated.