Driver Test Waiting Lists

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (186)

James Browne

Ceist:

186. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to address the delays affecting persons in County Wexford awaiting a driving test appointment at the RSA driving test centre, Gorey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9129/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Driver Test Centres

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (187)

James Browne

Ceist:

187. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full time driving testers posted to the RSA driving test centre Gorey, County Wexford, in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9130/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Airport Development Projects

Ceisteanna (188)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

188. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason homes in an area (details supplied) directly under the flight path of runway 16/34 at Dublin Airport were not considered for noise insulation in view of the sustained use of this runway at night and as an alternative to the main runway in adverse weather conditions. [9132/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the deputy is aware, daa holds statutory responsibility for the management, operation and development of Dublin Airport, including responsibility for the mitigation of aircraft noise which may effect neighbouring communities.

I have been informed that this issue relates to the ongoing resurfacing of the main southern runway which started in November 2016 and is scheduled for completion in April 2018. The project requires the use of the crosswind runway, R16/34 at night for that 18-month period.

These works can only be carried out at night between the hours of 9pm and 5am when the airport is least busy as it requires the full closure of the main runway.  While the night time works are ongoing, the airport has no alternative but to use its secondary runway, R16/34 to facilitate landings and take-offs during this time.

The daa began highlighting the necessity for this project in 2015 and took steps to communicate with local communities in respect of the time and scope of the works. Due to the concerns of residents living under the southerly flight path to runway 16/34, which is the most populated flight path to this runway daa have committed to using the northerly flight path for the duration of this project where at all possible other than when weather conditions dictate.

Following the completion of the works on the main runway, daa advise that R16/34 will only be used in exceptional circumstances i.e. where wind/safety reasons dictate. Therefore, no increased noise disruption beyond the duration of the overlay works is anticipated.  

The Deputy may also be aware that in compliance with an EU Regulation (598/2014) concerning Noise Related Operating Restrictions at EU Airports, I recently announced plans for the establishment of an independent body to regulate airport noise at Dublin Airport in accordance with prescribed procedures for assessing and, where appropriate, ensuring the adoption of measures to mitigate noise impacts. With the support of Government, I intend to appoint Fingal County Council as the Competent Authority. The necessary statutory arrangements are a priority objective for my Department in 2018.  

It is my view that provisions of the Regulation, including the appointment of an independent regulator, represent a huge improvement on current arrangements for noise management at the Airport and that full implementation is in the broad national interest and in the best interests of local residents.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (189)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

189. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of officials and advisers that travelled from his Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9148/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Project Ireland 2040, comprised of the National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, represents a key strategy to build the infrastructure that our Transport, Tourism and Sport sectors need to meet both current and future demands.

The entire Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport contributed in some way to the development of the National Development Plan over recent months. The agencies and state bodies under the aegis of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport were also key contributors and their support was invaluable. In fact some key officials have been working on the National Planning Framework in consultation with colleagues in other Government Departments for a number of years.

On the day of the launch itself, three Departmental officials were also present at the launch of Project Ireland 2040 in County Sligo. A number of briefing sessions were planned for the day and as some of those happened concurrent with the Government meeting it was appropriate to have representatives of the Department on hand to help with queries.  As is normal in such circumstances, costs associated with official travel are eligible to be paid in line with standard Civil Service rates; however, no costs have yet been paid. It is the practice in my Department that travel costs are claimed soon after they are incurred and I am sure that this will be the case in this instance too.  

Much of the promotional material used was produced centrally with our input but at no direct cost to my Department. Therefore direct expenses incurred by this Department relating to the launch are likely to fall with a range of between €1,000 and €2,000.

Tourism Policy

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (190)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

190. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding available for the development and promotion of Tullaghan, County Leitrim (details supplied); if Tullaghan is considered a discovery point in national tourism policy; his plans to develop Tullaghan in national tourism policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9220/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy development.  It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects, such as the Wild Atlantic Way and other Experience Brands. These are operational matters for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland.  While the Department provides funding to Fáilte Ireland to invest in tourism offerings, it does not have a role in the administration of Fáilte Ireland's tourism capital programmes.  Similarly, the Department does not have discretionary funds at its disposal to assist with individual tourism proposals.

Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply to the Deputy.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (191)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

191. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the private members sports clubs that have received funding in the past 20 years (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9232/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The primary aim of the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is to provide capital funding for projects that will maximise participation in sport and physical activity. In determining whether or not an organisation is private the following information is provided in the guide to making an application: "SCP funding is focused on community sports where the maximum number of people can participate. The Department may deem any organisation that places excessive restrictions on membership or usage as a private organisation and therefore not eligible for SCP funding."

The most recent allocations under the SCP were made in November and December 2017 and full details of these and previous SCP allocations are available on my Department's website at http://www.dttas.ie/sport/english/sports-capital-programme-awards-new

In relation to future rounds of the SCP, my Department is currently undertaking a review of the 2017 round with a view to making recommendations on how to improve the process for future calls.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Ceisteanna (192)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

192. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to address the lack of refuge accommodation for women in counties Cavan and Monaghan; her further plans to address the failure to provide the number of refuge places here as per the recommendation of the Council of Europe; her plans to address the failure to meet the requirement of the Istanbul Convention to provide shelters in sufficient numbers to provide safe accommodation for and to reach out proactively to victims; her further plans to address the delays in ratifying the Convention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9162/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Programme for Government commits to full implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention). Responsibility for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

The Istanbul Convention is a significant legal instrument in tackling violence against women and domestic violence. Many of the actions required by provisions in the Istanbul Convention are being implemented on a daily basis under current legislation and administrative practice. The actions necessary to ratify the Istanbul Convention are contained in the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021, published in January, 2016.  

The implementation of most of these actions is underway including public sector training/education by a range of State agencies, the development of a Risk Assessment Matrix by An Garda Síochána, commissioning of national helpline services to respond to issues of domestic and sexual violence and support for child witnesses.  

The remaining outstanding actions are legislative and require delivery of two pieces of legislation:

- The Domestic Violence Bill, which was published on 3rd February, 2017. The Bill has passed all stages in the Seanad and Second Stage in the Dáil. Committee stage is expected to commence shortly in the Dáil. It is hoped that this Bill will be enacted early this year. The enactment of this legislation is key to advancing the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as its enactment will deliver four of the actions required under the Istanbul Convention.

- The one remaining legislative action is the enactment of legislation for extraterritorial jurisdiction. Work on this action is underway and it is anticipated that this legislation will be published in the first half of 2018. 

- When the required legislative actions are implemented, Ireland will be in a position to ratify the  Istanbul Convention.

- Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the provision of care and protection to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).

- In 2017, additional funding of €1.5m was allocated to Tusla to support the development of services. I was pleased to secure a further increase of €1.7m for 2018, bringing the total level of funding for DSGBV services to €23.8m. This includes funding for some 60 services throughout the country, including emergency refuge and support services. 

The provision of domestic violence refuge spaces nationally in 2017 was 155 family units, comprising 147 emergency refuge family units and 8 emergency non-refuge family units. Guidance from the Council of Europe in relation to the provision of family places in a refuge indicates that “In member states where shelters form part of a community strategy with intervention projects, there should be one family place per 10,000 women”. Using the methodology set out by the Council of Europe, based on average family size and overall bed capacity, where a "family place should cater for a woman and the number of children based on the average family size for the country", current provision in Ireland is one family place per 7,765 adult women thus exceeding the recommendation for minimum refuge provision.  

However, given the variations in configurations of unit size and type, the emergency basis of provision and geographical distribution of demand, it is impossible to ensure a direct match between available units and family size and there have been geographical disparities in provision across the country. Tusla recognises the need to assure that the complement of emergency refuge services nationally matches as best as possible within available resources, demands for services and the needs of service users. 

Services for victims of domestic abuse in the North East region, namely counties Louth, Meath, Cavan, and Monaghan, received approximately €1.4m in funding from Tusla in 2017. Services to victims of domestic violence in counties Cavan and Monaghan are provided by Tearmann Domestic Violence Services, which received funding of approximately €192,000 from Tusla in 2017 for the provision of support and advocacy services to victims. Individuals based in West Cavan can avail of the services of the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service for Sligo, Leitrim and West Cavan, which also provides support and advocacy services. This service received approximately €317,000 in funding in 2017. Subject to the availability of spaces, women from counties Cavan and Monaghan may also avail of refuge services in Dublin or other parts of the country in line with availability of spaces and safety needs. 

Tusla has no immediate plans to provide a refuge in the Cavan/Monaghan area. There are three refuges situated in Drogheda, Co. Louth; Dundalk, Co. Louth; and Navan, Co. Meath, which provide emergency domestic violence accommodation to women based in the North East region. This includes 21 family units of emergency refuge accommodation.  

As part of its commissioning approach to developing services, Tusla carried out a number of needs analyses projects in 2017 to identify gaps in service provision and to prioritise service developments. All future service developments, whether based in the North East region or elsewhere, will be informed by Tusla’s commissioning approach. In 2017, Tearmann Domestic Violence Services completed a Strategic Plan as a means of improving and developing services in counties Cavan and Monaghan. Tusla will meet Tearmann Domestic Violence Services and other partners shortly with a view to supporting these developments.

Youth Homelessness Strategy

Ceisteanna (193)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

193. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 525 of 27 June 2017, the steps she has taken to ascertain the levels of youth homelessness amongst the LGBTI+ community; the further steps she is taking to address this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9201/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Under the Child Care Act, 1991 and the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla has a duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care or protection, including children who present as  homeless, and are not in the care of their parents. 

Tusla provides assessment  and care to children in this situation, understanding that there is always an underlying reason for a child to present as  homeless. In the case of a young LGBTI+ person this  may be occurring at a time when the family is coming to an understanding of their changed identity, and the challenges that may create for members of the family.   

In the first instance, and in consultation with the child, Tusla social workers will see if it is possible for the child to be re-integrated into the care of their family or extended family. This will only occur where it is in the child's best interest and where there is a plan to address the issues that led to the child leaving, or being told to leave, the family home. If this is not a suitable or safe option the child will be received into care and placed with a foster family or residential centre.   In a small number of cases they may provide accommodation and support to a 17 year old.  

An assessment is carried out as to the reasons for a child coming into care,  their current and future needs and how these are to be met  are set out in their Care Plan.  While there is no specific plan for LGBTI+ children received into care, the reasons for their presentation as homeless forms an integral part of their assessment and care plan, through which appropriate services and supports will be identified.   

Their social worker, foster carer or residential staff will need to ensure they have the information and understanding necessary to help the young person.  When they leave care at 18 years of age, their after care plan should address ongoing supports for them as an LGBTI+ young people as well as  income and health supports, accommodation and help with their educational ambitions. While the provision of housing is a function of the housing or local authorities, Tusla co-operates with the housing authorities as part of aftercare planning.   

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to develop a National LGBT Youth Strategy.  This is a key commitment for my Department. It also contributes to the Government’s broader commitment to continuing to strive for full inclusion of LGBTI+ people in Ireland.  

The Strategy will be the first of its kind in the world and will  identify the additional measures that are required to ensure that young people identifying as LGBTI+ can achieve the same outcomes as all children and young people. The actions which the Strategy will recommend are still under consideration, with expected publication in Summer 2018. 

Research into the scale of the problem of homeless LGBTI young people, has been raised during the development of the strategy process. I am aware that Focus Ireland are now undertaking research in this area and  I will ask  that my officials  to meet with Focus Ireland and Tusla to discuss the project.

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (194)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

194. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding provided to youth services in Dublin city in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [9058/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people in Dublin city, including those from disadvantaged communities.

The funding provided to youth services in the Dublin city area for the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018 is provided in the following table.

Year

Youth funding provided for youth services in Dublin City

2015

€13,032,525

2016

€12,983,190

2017

€13,593,120

2018

€2,892,108

Public Sector Pay

Ceisteanna (195, 196)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

195. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the issue of public sector pay restoration for those staff in the City of Dublin Youth Service Board funded youth projects will be addressed; and if funding has been put in place to enable this restoration. [9059/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

196. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the concerns of board members of City of Dublin Youth Service funded projects that pay restoration without increased funding will lead to staff layoffs and reductions in programme budgets, will be addressed. [9060/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 196 together.

City of Dublin Youth Service Board is a statutory body which administers grants to approximately ninety youth projects throughout Dublin city. I am aware that a number of youth workers based in Dublin City and employed in projects administered by the City of Dublin Youth Service Board, are on scales linked to public pay scales and may be eligible for increases under the Haddington Road agreement. In this regard, I was advised by City of Dublin Youth Service Board of a circular issued by the Department of Education and Skills issued in 2017 and that this circular applies to these youth workers.

It is important to note that the youth workers employed by these services are not public servants and that this local arrangement is unique to services operating in Dublin City. I am also advised that all other youth services operating in Dublin and in the rest of the country are not impacted by the Haddington Road agreement.

Based on the information provided to my Department, the cost of implementing the Haddington Road agreement in these Dublin City services is more than offset by the increases provided to all youth services over the past two years. In 2016, all staff-led youth services were provided with a 2.5% increase in allocation. In 2017, services were provided with a 5% increase in their allocation.

My Department has commenced a process with national organisations and local services to identify service development needs for 2018 and to finalise the 2018 allocations. The primary purpose of this process to ensure that youth services are sufficiently resourced to meet the needs of young people and particularly those who are at risk of drugs or, alcohol misuse, early school leaving, homelessness or who are living in disadvantaged communities. Every effort will be made to complete this process as soon as possible and notify all youth services of their allocation for the year.

In this regard, officials within my Department have recently met with and are continuing to work with officials from the City of Dublin Youth Service Board to identify service needs and emerging trends in Dublin City.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (197)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

197. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of officials and advisers that travelled from her Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9155/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I can inform the Deputy that none of my advisors or officials travelled to the launch to which he refers.

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (198, 199)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

198. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if additional funding will be provided to a service (details supplied) to cover the cost of 1% pay increases under the unwinding of FEMPI in order to ensure that the additional staffing costs do not impact service provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9229/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

199. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of providing additional youth service funding to cover the cost of the pay increases resulting from the unwinding of FEMPI; the steps she is taking to ensure this does not impact service provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9230/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 and 199 together.

City of Dublin Youth Service Board is a statutory body which administers grants to approximately ninety youth projects throughout Dublin city. I am aware that a number of youth workers based in Dublin City and employed in projects administered by the City of Dublin Youth Service Board, are on scales linked to public pay scales and may be eligible for increases under the Haddington Road agreement. In this regard, I was advised by City of Dublin Youth Service Board of a circular issued by the Department of Education and Skills in 2017 and that this circular applies to these youth workers.

It is important to note that the youth workers employed by these services are not public servants and that this local arrangement is unique to services operating in Dublin City. I am also advised that all other youth services operating in Dublin and in the rest of the country are not impacted by the Haddington Road agreement.

Based on the information provided to my Department, the cost of implementing the Haddington Road agreement in these Dublin City services is more than offset by the increases provided to all youth services over the past two years. In 2016, all staff-led youth services were provided with a 2.5% increase in allocation. In 2017, services were provided with a 5% increase in their allocation.

My Department has commenced a process with national organisations and local services, including Ballymun Regional Youth Service, to identify service development needs for 2018 and to finalise the 2018 allocations. The primary purpose of this process to ensure that youth services are sufficiently resourced to meet the needs of young people and particularly those who are at risk of drugs or alcohol misuse, early school leaving, homelessness or who are living in disadvantaged communities. Every effort will be made to complete this process as soon as possible and notify all youth services of their allocation for the year.

In this regard, officials within my Department have recently met with and are continuing to work with officials from the City of Dublin Youth Service Board to identify service needs and emerging trends in Dublin City.

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (200)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

200. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she has adequate funds available to her Department to provide the necessary financial support for youth organisations throughout the country; the degree to which she expects to extend such services in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9235/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In 2018, €58.9 m has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services, an increase of €1.5m on 2017. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services. Funding to staff led youth services has generally been targeted at areas of disadvantage and not in proportion to the youth population of a given area.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This reform will provide an opportunity to identify need and to focus funding on young people most in need of intervention. Last year, I approved funding for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new challenges arising from population increases and related identified needs.

Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the mapping exercise completed last year, which mapped youth service provision across the State. This mapping will assist the Department and the relevant ETB in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels. My Department is committed to working with ETBs to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

Youth Services

Ceisteanna (201)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

201. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her Department and bodies under her aegis maintain regular and adequate contact with the various youth groups throughout the country with particular reference to identifying their needs and taking onboard their anticipated requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9236/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department maintains close contact with the national youth organisations and I and officials from my Department meet formally with these organisations twice a year to share knowledge and information on developments in the youth sector. A separate meeting is held on that day with national organisations in receipt of targeted youth funding to keep them updated on the ongoing work on the Value for Money and Policy Review reforms. 

Youth Officers of the Education and Training Boards  provide an important support role to my Department in the co-ordination and administration of youth services at local level across the country. In order to keep my Department informed of their ongoing work, officials hold quarterly meetings attended by all Youth Officers from across the country. These meetings assist my Department in identifying service needs, particularly for vulnerable young people.  The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department has set up a working group with five Youth Officers focussed on strategic planning for future capital funding for the youth sector.

My Department holds scheduled meetings with Youth Work Ireland twice a year in relation to the important work of this organisation. My officials have also attended a meeting of Youth Work Ireland Regional Directors and were pleased to accept an invitation to attend this meeting twice a year from now on. There is also ongoing active engagement between my Department and the youth constituency of the of the Better Outcomes Brighter Futures Advisory Council. A small number of national youth organisation representatives are members of this Council.

Officials from the Youth Affairs Unit are engaged with programmes run by the National Youth Council of Ireland such as the Youth Arts Strategic Review and Plan Advisory Steering Group and the National Health Programme Strategic Planning Working Group, both of which receive funding from my Department.

Officials from my Department also meet with youth organisations on an individual basis when the need arises.

Irish Prison Service

Ceisteanna (202)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

202. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she maintains dialogue with the Irish Prison Service with a view to providing appropriate support for first-time offender juveniles on their release from prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9237/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

There are no children detained in adult prisons. All children who have been sentenced to a period of detention by the Courts are detained in Oberstown Children Detention Campus. The policy to end children being detained in adult facilities has been achieved with effect from the 31st March 2017. In the circumstances, I do not need to liaise with the Irish Prison Service in relation to children.

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (203)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

203. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she has received requests from various voluntary youth organisations for funding to facilitate their various programmes throughout 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9238/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme supports volunteer-led youth work activities at a local level. These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through the local Education and Training Boards. Each year, in the region of 1700 local youth clubs are eligible to apply under the scheme. Organisations wishing to apply for funding under this scheme are required to contact their local Education and Training Board for more information.

Child Protection

Ceisteanna (204)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

204. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her Department and agencies under its aegis continue to monitor reports of children at risk throughout the country, whether in institutional care, foster care or homeless; the extent to which she can offer assistance in such situations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9239/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, and if necessary, to receive a child into the care of the State.

The placement of children in care is governed by Regulations and National Standards. These provide for the welfare of the child, including their health, education, assessment of need, care planning, supervision of placement, contact with family, general care practices, care records, and safety precautions. Children, depending on their identified needs, may be placed by in foster care either with relatives or general foster carers, in residential care, high support or special care or other placement types. The majority of children are placed in long term stable placements and currently over 92% of children are placed in foster care. A key part of the social worker role is to ensure the quality and safety of the child's placement, and to meet with the child on a one to one basis on all visits. There are safeguards surrounding each child care placement, whether foster or residential care and all placements are supervised by a professionally qualified social worker.

All foster care services and statutory residential centres are subject to inspection by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA). Private and voluntary residential centres are inspected by Tusla against National Standards. These inspection reports of children's residential centres, fostering services and child protection services are also reviewed and analysed by my officials. The overview of these reports provides me with a level of assurance on the overall capacity of Tusla to identify and provide services to families and children who are at risk.

Tusla has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team. This team produces monthly, quarterly and annual reports in respect of Tusla's functions, including detailed reporting on child safety and protection services. Tusla provides me with information on children in care, their placement type, care status and allocation of social workers. Within my Department there is a Unit which scrutinises these reports and briefs me and senior officials on issues of note. The reports also provide statistical evidence of improvements to child welfare and protection services and highlights challenges and areas where further improvement is required, such as the recruitment of additional social workers.

Officials from my Department meet Tusla management on a regular basis to review the level of service provision, including areas in need of improvement.

The Deputy should also be aware that children in care have access to independent advocacy supports, such as the organisation Empowering People in Care (EPIC). Children in care also have access to the complaints mechanism in Tulsa, and may make complaints, or be assisted to make complaints, about their care to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children.

In the context of the Child Care Act 1991, my Department has policy responsibility for children under 18 years of age who present as “out of home” without their parent or guardian. Children under the age of 16 who present as homeless without their parent or guardian are taken into care. Children aged 16 and 17 may be taken into care or provided with a service under section 5 of the Child Care Act 1991 which deals with accommodation for homeless children. Children who are homeless and in emergency accommodation are in the care of their parent or guardian. Where there are no welfare or protection concerns, Tusla’s role is to provide family support, where this is required.