As the Deputy will be aware my Department is obliged to carry out a Call for Proposals process during 2018 in relation to the provision of Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) services, to fully comply with requirements related to the co-funding of projects by the European Social Fund Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.
I can assure the Deputy that the new approach to GYDP provision which is being developed in preparation for the Call for Proposals will not reduce the level of service that already exists, or the importance of community involvement in its delivery. On the contrary, the intention is to build on, update and improve a very valuable service so that it is available to every child or young person in the country who requires it. This improvement to the service will have benefits for significant numbers of young people in the State who cannot currently access GYDP services. While certain aspects of the new service model have been determined, work is ongoing to complete the full details to be included in the Call for Proposals, which is expected to issue later this year. I am convinced that community ownership and participation of the projects is an essential dimension that must be preserved and strengthened in the working out of this process.
To ensure State-wide coverage of GYDP services for young people, (which does not exist at present), the intention is that, in general, service provision will be aligned with Garda Divisions or other appropriate local areas with a distinct community identity, as may be agreed during the consultation process. The consideration of such local arrangements will apply particularly in relation to areas with a large number of potential participants on GYDPs.
I can assure the Deputy that my Department is committed to ensuring continuity of service for participants on GYDPs and to maintaining a community driven approach to their operation, as well as minimising any disruption for workers and service providers. In this regard, I am advised that the Call for Proposals process will facilitate existing service providers forming consortiums which could apply to provide services under the new GYDP model.
Careful consideration is being given to all issues raised by stakeholders involved in GYDPs as part of a wide-ranging consultation process, which is currently ongoing. This process includes arrangements for an extensive series of meetings with community based organisations and project workers which will facilitate closer communication and exchange of information in relation to these matters. The consultation process will help to inform further development of the Call for Proposals in advance of it being issued.
As indicated above, the Call for Proposals will require applicants to provide for continuity of GYDP services to current participants. It is of course a matter for organisations which apply to provide future GYDP services under the Call for Proposals to ensure that they comply with relevant legal responsibilities, including in relation to the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 131/2003).