Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (606, 607)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

606. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to introduce an enhanced support payment for children in care with disabilities. [12117/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

607. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if there has been an engagement between the Department of Health and her Department on formulating a national policy to support children in care with a disability. [12118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 606 and 607 together.

There are existing national policies to support children in care with a disability.

Under Tusla’s National Policy on Financial Payments in Foster Care, Aftercare and Supported Lodgings, an enhanced foster care allowance may be payable to foster carers in certain circumstances. A maximum of twice the weekly allowance may be paid in respect of children aged up to 18 years if they require significant care over and above the needs of other children in foster care. This includes children who have been diagnosed with significant special needs and require a high level of personal care and supervision.

Foster care allowances are payable for the benefit of the foster child and therefore must be used to meet the day to day costs associated with looking after the foster child. In considering any enhanced allowance the social worker must show that the standard fostering allowance does not adequately provide for the cost of caring for the child.

In general terms, disability services are provided by the HSE, and the eligibility of children, including children with a disability, to relevant supports and services is determined on the basis of clinical need.

Tusla and my Department are aware that children in care with a disability may face specific challenges. The Joint Protocol for Interagency Collaboration between the Health Service Executive and Tusla, agreed by the two agencies, is designed to address such matters.

This protocol clarifies how children in care access HSE-funded disability-related services, setting out the respective roles and duties of the relevant agencies, as well as the arrangements in place when children in care reach 18 years of age. While the Protocol is managed at a local level in the first instance, it provides a clear escalation process should an issue arise, or if there is an unresolved matter around access to appropriate services.

The Protocol’s development came on foot of intensive and productive engagement at the highest level between the HSE, Tusla, my Department, and the Department of Health. My officials are continuing to work closely with Department of Health colleagues regarding young people in care transitioning to HSE Disability Services placements upon turning 18, in order to effect a sustainable transition mechanism.

Question Nos. 608 and 609 answered with Question No. 605.