I refer the Deputy to my reply to his question today, No. 106, with regard to the adequacy of resources generally.
The recently published "Better Outcomes Brighter Futures" national policy framework for children and young people 2014-2020 represents a whole of government approach to improve the lives of children and young people. The framework gives appropriate priority to the importance of physical and mental well-being with a single national outcome focussed on "Active and Healthy". The key Departmental Sponsor for this Outcome area is the Department of Health. Under this outcome, 15 key commitments are listed, each with a lead Department responsible for implementation. These commitments aim to reduce the risk factors and improve the resilience factors associated with the health and well-being of children and young people. My Department works closely with the Department of Health, the HSE other relevant departments and agencies to progress these issues. My Department has both sponsored studies in this area and collated relevant evidence from other studies to learn more about the issues most likely to impact on the health and well-being of children.
The responsibility for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) lies with the HSE and policy for these is outlined in the Department of Health’s, “A Vision for Change” Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy.
The Child and Family Agency has a key role in supporting some of the most vulnerable children and young people in State care. My Department has introduced reforms aimed at enhancing management and service provision for therapeutic services for children in detention and residential care. These include the establishment of the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service, a new integrated clinical team known as the ACTS team, that will liaise closely with CAMHS and other relevant services.
One of the main challenges in the area of physical well being is childhood obesity. In the latter part of 2013 the Minister of Health and my predecessor, Minister Fitzgerald, jointly launched a three year media and social media campaign aimed at giving practical tips to parents on managing their children’s weight.
As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I have responsibility for Play and Recreation Policy which have been set out in the policy documents, ‘READY, STEADY, PLAY! A National Play Policy’ and the ‘National Recreation Policy for Young People’. The Local Authority Play and Recreation Network (LAPRN) was established to introduce a more coordinated and interagency approach to achieving the main goals of the play and recreation policies at both national and local level. Targeted grants are provided to Local Authorities by my Department to encourage participation across the Local Authority network. Other initiatives being developed at local community level are designed to encourage awareness of the importance of play and recreation throughout the whole of life from early childhood to adulthood and through to later life.
Much work has been done with respect to the development of alcohol and drug policies in youth settings through funding provided by my Department through the Youth Service Grant Scheme and the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund and through the work of a range of youth work organisations. The National Youth Health Programme is a partnership operated by the National Youth Council of Ireland with the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department and the Health Promotion Unit of the HSE respectively. The Programme aims to provide a broad-based, flexible health promotion/education support and training service including making healthy choices in relation to alcohol, to youth organisations and to all those working with young people in the non-formal education setting.