Public Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (223)

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

223. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate the matter regarding a public transportation provider undercutting another public transportation provider (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21808/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Rickshaws do not come within the small public service vehicle (SPSV) regulatory regime. The SPSV regulatory regime applies to mechanically propelled vehicles only. The use of rickshaws on public roads must comply with general road traffic legislation and any by-laws made by local authorities.

  Insurance requirements apply only to mechanically propelled vehicles. Motor taxation is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.

Child Care Services Inspections

Ceisteanna (224)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

224. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason a private preschool in County Cork is being asked for Garda clearance for an employee who is employed for the last year and a half in the preschool. [21801/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Following recent amendments to the Child Care Act 1991, the new Child and Family Agency (CFA) now has responsibility for the inspection of childcare services. Inspection is carried out to monitor compliance with the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations thereby ensuring the health safety and welfare of children enrolled in pre-school services.

The above Regulations require that a person carrying on a pre-school service shall ensure appropriate vetting of all staff, students and volunteers who have access to a child. Appropriate vetting includes the requirement to provide police vetting from other police authorities for members of staff who previously lived outside the jurisdiction.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (225)

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

225. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the outcome of the children's referendum; if one case has been heard in the Supreme Court yet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21635/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The judgment in the High Court challenge to the result of the Children’s Referendum was delivered on 18 October. The Petitioner was unsuccessful in her petition to the High Court challenging the Provisional Referendum Certificate issued on foot of the Children's Referendum. The Court dismissed the petition.

The judgment of the High Court in the matter has been appealed by the Petitioner to the Supreme Court and a date for hearing is awaited.

The Petitioner had also challenged, by way of plenary proceedings, the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Referendum Act 1994 and High Court hearing of these proceedings concluded on 12 December and judgement is awaited in that matter.

Foster Care Provision

Ceisteanna (226)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

226. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of applications his Department or the Health Service Executive dealt with under the family foster care scheme in the past three years; the supports that are available to foster parents under this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21693/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I have requested information from the Child and Family Agency and I will forward the reply to the Deputy once I have been furnished with this information.

Foster Care Provision

Ceisteanna (227)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

227. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason an application by a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim under the family foster care scheme was not considered by the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21697/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Under the Child Care Act 1991 and the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, the Child and Family Agency has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. The majority of children in care are in foster care and one third are placed with relatives.

The Child and Family Agency receive a child into care where it appears that the child requires care and protection that he is unlikely to receive unless taken into care. Alleviation of financial hardship is not a reason for a child coming into care. The Department of Social Protection provides for a Guardianship Payment in such circumstances.

The Department of Social Protection has advised that the Guardian's Payment (contributory) and Guardian's Payment (noncontributory) are payments made to a person caring for a child who is defined as an orphan under Social Welfare legislation in cases where both the child's parents are dead or in cases where children's parent(s) have abandoned and failed to provide for them.

Child Care Services Inspections

Ceisteanna (228)

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

228. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if it is the case that only public health nurses are eligible to apply for work as inspectors of child care facilities; and if so, if he will consider allowing other persons with relevant qualifications to apply for these positions in the future. [21708/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Responsibility for the inspection of childcare services, which previously came under the remit of the HSE, transferred to the new Child and Family Agency from January. Inspection is carried out to monitor compliance with the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations with the aim of ensuring the health, safety and welfare of children enrolled in pre-school services.

When the Regulations were introduced in 1996, the role of preschool inspector was assigned to Public Health Nurses, whose training and experience gives them a particular expertise in child development. While some inspectors have since been appointed with different backgrounds, there is a Labour Court decision which confines the posts to Public Health Nurses. It is my view that it would strengthen the inspectorate if there were inspectors from a broader range of backgrounds, including early years graduates. However, it will be a matter for the Agency to negotiate with the relevant Trade Union to allow for wider recruitment.

Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (229)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

229. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the contact his Department has had with the Department of Justice and Equality with regard to ensuring juvenile liaison officer support for young persons from families who have come to live here in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21759/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The operation of the Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer scheme comes within the responsibilities of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality in the first instance.

My Department has not has any contact to date on the issue mentioned by the Deputy. However I am arranging for an official from the Irish Youth Justice Service, which is co-located between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality, to contact the Deputy to discuss the matter further.

Child Care Services Expenditure

Ceisteanna (230)

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

230. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason funding of €100,000 for an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 17 which is an excellent preschool centre was not provided; and if he will support this excellent community preschool service. [21807/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the importance of the services delivered by Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Service Ltd. to some 260 children across the areas of Darndale, Belcamp and Moatview. In 2013 the Centre incurred expenditure of €2.022 million and received funding amounting to €1.960 million resulting in a deficit of €62,000. The Centre employs approximately 100 staff, including Community Employment participants. I understand that the Centre has been experiencing cash flow difficulties over recent weeks and that this has given rise to concerns regarding its future operation. The Centre has been in discussions with the Child and Family Agency, as one of a number of State agencies which provides funding to support the provision of services at the Centre. In order to alleviate the immediate cash flow difficulty the Agency prepaid funding due to the Centre in May and June. I would expect that the Agency will be open to providing some further pre-payments to the Centre if this is of assistance.

The Chairperson of the Centre has also been in correspondence with my predecessor, Minister Fitzgerald, regarding the current difficulties. Minister Fitzgerald advised, inter alia, that in her view the wider solution to the current difficulties would need to have regard to the overall provision of early years services in the area. This is important as we need to ensure that all available resources to support these key services are maximised. The Minister also expressed the view, with which I concur, that this will require some time and space.

The Deputy will appreciate that I am still in the process of familiarising myself with the issues involved. In this context, I have asked my officials to meet with the Child and Family Agency and with Pobal (which administers a number of childcare schemes on behalf of my Department) to explore all possible solutions to the current difficulties having regard to the overall provision of early years services. I can assure the Deputy that this matter is being given priority attention.