Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ceisteanna (29)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

29. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the quality and capacity building initiative, QCBI, innovation fund; the way in which it can benefit projects in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25559/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (3 contributions) (Ceist ar Children)

The QCBI, funded under the Dormant Account Fund, aims to take a co-ordinated approach to enhance capacity, knowledge and quality in prevention and early intervention for children, young people and their families. It focuses on those at risk of developing poor outcomes. At the core of the initiative is a desire to foster persistent curiosity among those working to improve the lives of children and young people.

The QCBI aims to support key groups working with children, young people and families to know what works, how it works and to provide an evidence-supported approach to the application of this work. The QCBI innovation fund, amounting to €2 million, was developed by my Department to support prevention and early intervention innovations that build on existing data and evidence. We aim to improve outcomes for children and young people aged up to 24 years who experience disadvantage. All proposals are expected to have a strong professional development and-or coaching and mentoring component.

Four applications were made from County Kildare: Foróige - the Strengthening Families programme for Kildare and west Wicklow; County Kildare Leader partnership - Mojo project to support young men; Kildare Youth Services and Curragh and Newbridge Garda youth diversion project; and Kilcullen community childcare and education centre - breakfast and afterschool service expansion.

Each individual application has been assessed against the transparent criteria outlined in the guidance document. The outcome of each application will depend on the quality and proposed impact of the initiative outlined in the application form, the ability of the measure to support diverse innovations across a range of community, contexts and practice areas and the number of quality proposals received. All the applications received under this funding measure have been assessed by an expert evaluation panel assigned by the Department. Our aim is to notify applicants by the end of this month.

The Minister outlined the four applications from County Kildare and I will briefly touch on them. I previously raised with her the fact that County Kildare is playing catch-up in terms of investment in what is one of the largest youth populations of any county. As the Minister will have witnessed during her visit to County Kildare to open The Hive youth facility in Kildare town when she met all the agencies and groups, there is good collaboration between them and they work well together. The application from Foróige is an example of that in that it involves Foróige leading the project on behalf of an inter-agency group to create a dedicated and co-ordinated post to further develop the Strengthening Families programme. I launched the evaluation for the programme last year. It works and we must be able to extend it and provide it in other locations.

The application from the Kildare Leader programme is for the Mojo project. Young men aged between 18 and 24 are getting involved in it with an open mind as it does not have the stigma attaching to HSE-run projects. The Mojo project is working well in Kildare town and it was previously in Athy. We need the project in Newbridge, in particular, and in other locations.

The Kildare Youth Services educational support programme for early school leavers is important, as is the Kilcullen community childcare facility, which does fantastic work in the greater Kilcullen area. The inter-agency collaboration in Kildare must be recognised. Any money the Department gives to the four projects will be well spent and well received by the large youth population we have in the county.

I acknowledge the fine work that is ongoing in County Kildare in the projects outlined by the Deputy. It sounds like the applicant organisations can meet the criteria but, as he will be aware, I am not the one who makes the judgment in that regard. This particular initiative was largely focused on looking at innovative projects for children and young people and how we can use what we have learnt from our history to assist them in the future. Significant resources are being expended on projects but I believed it was important to continue the innovation alongside that, which is why we set €2 million aside. That is the reason the projects outlined by the Deputy and other Deputies who are present have had the opportunity to access the additional money for ongoing innovation.