Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (359)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

359. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the contracts her Department and agencies under her remit are engaged in for the provision of security services; the name of each contractor; the procurement process involved; the duration of each contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department is located at Miesian Plaza, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 which is leased by the OPW. There are four civil service Departments using this office space and the security company G4S provides security from 9pm to 7am Monday to Friday, and 24/7 at the weekends / public holidays for the OPW tenant block. The costs of this are shared across the tenant Departments.

The original contract for G4S was procured by the OPW and the tenant Departments continued this provision when they took occupancy in mid-2018. This will continue until a fully managed service procurement process for the building, including security services, is carried out. This is expected to be completed by end 2019.

The details and provision of security services for agencies under the remit of my Department is an operational matter and I have requested that the agencies concerned reply directly to the Deputy.

Child and Family Agency Data

Ceisteanna (360)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

360. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children that potentially have myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME, overseen by Tusla; the approach of Tusla to children missing school that potentially have ME; if she will undertake reforms to improve the quality of social work practice and decision making, including thorough assessment and accreditation against qualifying standards for children that potentially have ME and or are waiting for an appointment to diagnose and or exclude ME using recognised diagnostic criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30254/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Where a child is in the care, or known to, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, information about any known medical issues may be recorded on their file. Information about the health status of individual children is not collated centrally by Tusla for the purpose of reporting.

Where a child in care has a diagnosed medical condition, Tusla social workers will work collaboratively with the HSE to ensure that the child has access to the relevant services and supports. Where it is not possible to meet the child's needs through the public health system Tusla may, on occasion, privately source supports.

Social workers do not and cannot diagnose children and young people with medical or psychiatric conditions, however, if a parent or carer is worried that a child may have an illness, physical or mental, a social worker allocated to a family would support the parent/carer to access the relevant services, for example their GP.

Where a child already has a diagnosis, a social worker must work with the child, their parent or carer and (with the appropriate consent) the child's doctor, to support the child and family in managing the impact of any illness. The goal of the intervention is to ensure that the child can avail of any developmental opportunities, and to ensure parents and carers are supported to care for the child. This may involve providing practical supports through the family support service, assisting parents and carers to attend appointments for the child or assisting the child, parents and carers to access recommended supports e.g. applications for local authority grants to modify housing.

The Education and Welfare Service, also a division of Tusla, work with children and their parents/carers where school attendance is of concern. This is separate to the child protection social work service provided by Tusla.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (361)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

361. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the requirement for additional revenues in 2020 to meet demographic costs as outlined in the summer economic statement for her Department by additional staff, scheme and programme; the expected allocation her Department will require as submitted to the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform; the specific resources required to fund such as increased staffing commitments or funding to the affordable childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department is currently examining expenditure requirements across all programme areas, including expenditure trends thus far in 2019, to identify how services can be delivered within the overall fiscal parameters for 2020.

As the Deputy will be aware, this forms part of the normal budget/estimates process and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this point.

Affordable Childcare Scheme

Ceisteanna (362)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

362. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated first and full year cost of increasing the universal childcare subsidy from 50 cent an hour to €1 per hour or €2 per hour respectively; the estimated impact such an increase will have on other income assessed subsidies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The estimated costs per annum across the National Childcare Scheme of increasing the universal subsidy to €1 and €2 respectively are set out in the table below. The figures are based on the full cost to the National Childcare Scheme, assuming that the minimum targeted subsidy is increased so as never to be below the universal subsidy in all cases.

The costs are arrived at by:

- establishing the number of families with children under 15 years by income bracket (data supplied by CSO) and

- profiling these families by reference to the age of their children and

- estimating the proportion of children in each income bracket and age range using registered care and

- calculating estimated subsidy rates based on income levels and age profile and

- applying estimates of the average hours used by age group for term time and non-term time.

The cost estimates for subsidies at the existing levels (50c universal and the current targeted subsidy levels) assume a relatively conservative level of change from current scheme uptake. This change is used at a fixed level throughout the estimates. In other words, increased subsidies may create behavioural changes by families which are not factored into scenarios (for example, families moving from unregistered childminding to registered Early Learning and Care services that are eligible for the National Childcare Scheme).

Universal Rate

Additional Cost per annum

.50c

€1

€21

€2

€66

The following should also be noted:

- The figures do not include once-off transitional “savers” costs under section 26 of the Childcare Support Act.

- This assumes the minimum targeted subsidy is set by the universal subsidy for children under 3 years (or children over 3 years who do not yet qualify for ECCE) who are eligible for targeted subsidies.

Affordable Childcare Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (363)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

363. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of families with children in full-time childcare that will not be eligible for an additional subsidy for childcare in autumn 2019 under the national childcare scheme due to their income exceeding the threshold of €60,000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30345/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The National Childcare Scheme will greatly increase the number of families who can access financial support, with some families receiving subsidies for the first time. This is because the Scheme removes many of the restrictive eligibility requirements of the existing support programmes, whereby a parent must be in receipt of certain Social Protection payments or a Medical Card in order to receive targeted supports. In this way, it aims to combat the poverty traps which may exist within the existing schemes.

Income thresholds for assessment under the Scheme were raised substantially under Budget 2019. The significant increase in the Scheme's maximum net income threshold from €47,000 to €60,000 per annum, ensures that families with, in some cases, a gross income of up to €100,000 will benefit from the Scheme.

I am also very pleased that I have managed to adjust the lower income threshold, meaning that maximum subsidy rates will now be paid to all families with a reckonable income of up to €26,000 (up from €22,700). This ‘poverty proofs’ the Scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the very highest subsidy rates under the scheme.

I would emphasise that this Scheme is designed in accordance with the principle of progressive universalism, having regard to the best interests of children and to the needs of the most economically vulnerable. Those with the least income will get the highest subsidy. We will also aim to support education, training and employment as routes out of poverty.

It is estimated that 36,050 households with children in childcare will not be eligible for income assessed subsidy under the national childcare scheme due to their reckonable income exceeding the threshold of €60,000.

This figure is arrived at taking account of

- Extrapolated 2016 household income distributions for families with 1, 2, and 3+ children

- The estimated number of children at different ages/stages of education

- The estimated uptake of those children based on patterns at their age/stage of education

- The behavioural patterns of parents in the upper/lower half of the income distribution.

However, of these 36,050 households, it is estimated that 13,200 will qualify for a universal subsidy of up to €1,040 per annum as they will have children under three or not yet eligible for the ECCE scheme. A further 14,000 approximately will qualify for the free pre-school programme (ECCE) which is considered to reduce childcare costs for parents who are working by approximately €5,500 per child over the course of the 2 year ECCE programme.

Finally, it is should be noted that the National Childcare Scheme is designed to be flexible, with income thresholds, subsidy rates and maximum hours and these can be adjusted over time as Government investment becomes available.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Ceisteanna (364)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

364. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when funding will be allocated towards the necessary provision of a refuge centre in counties Cavan and Monaghan for victims of domestic abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30395/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides funding and coordination supports to some 59 organisations that deliver a range of services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence throughout the country.

In 2019, €25.3 million is being allocated to Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services, an increase of €1.5 million over 2018.

This year, the additional funding of €1.5m will be used for the further investment and development of these services. A proportion of this funding will allow for:

- 12 new outreach workers for women and children affected by domestic violence to improve access to support and services.

- The roll out of a 12 week healing programme for children who have been impacted by domestic abuse which also helps parents/guardians to understand their child’s experiences and support their recovery.

With regard to the future provision of additional refuge spaces, it should be noted that the responsibility for capital investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. Tusla is in contact with funded organisations in relation to proposed new developments, with plans underway in a number of areas for additional refuge spaces. These plans are at various stages.

Any additional funded developments will be informed by Tusla’s review of emergency refuge accommodation nationwide, and the identified needs of service users throughout the country.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to the provision of a refuge in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Bullying of Children

Ceisteanna (365, 371, 372, 373)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

365. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which incidents of various forms of bullying including cyberbullying were reported to her Department or bodies under her remit in the past three years; the degree to which the various responsible authorities were in a position to offer positive intervention; the outcome of such interventions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

371. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her Department remains alert to the various forms of bullying affecting children and families; the degree to which she can proactively intervene in cases in which there may be suspicion of a form of bullying with a view to ensuring the victims realise that help is available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30456/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

372. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of incidents of various forms of bullying of children that have been reported to her Department in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which a positive and lasting intervention was possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

373. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to tackle the issue of the bullying of children by peers or adults; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 371 to 373, inclusive, together.

I am conscious of the issue referred to by the Deputy. The internet is an increasingly valuable resource for everyone, including children and young people, but it also exposes people to new risks including cyberbullying.

My Department does not have a role in relation to the coordination or investigation of complaints about bullying, including cyberbullying.

The welfare and protection of children and in particular, vulnerable children, is everybody's concern. Responsibility for children's welfare arises in all settings where children are and attaches to all responsible adults who come in contact with children. The primary responsibility for protecting children rests with their parents but parents are supported in this role by a range of service providers, state agencies, schools and professionals working with children and young people.

In recognition of the whole of government approach required, in July 2018, the Taoiseach launched the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-19. The Action Plan involves a wide range of actions, across six Government Departments - Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment; Education and Skills; Justice and Equality; Children and Youth Affairs; Health and Business Enterprise and Innovation, recognising that online safety is not the responsibility of any one Department and signifying the range and breadth of the issues involved. A Sponsors Group, involving the six Departments and chaired by the Department of Education & Skills, has been established to drive implementation of the Action Plan.

There is a range of services available which can assist children and young people in coping with bullying situations for example;

- www.webwise.ie - An initiative of Department of Education & Skills - provides a range of internet safety issues and concerns and offers advice and support for young people, teachers and parents.

- With regard to cyber bullying, the Office for Internet Safety, under the Department of Justice & Equality, takes a lead responsibility for internet safety in Ireland, particularly as it relates to children.

The information and resources can be accessed through the single access point www.besafeonline.ie

The Children First Act 2015, which has been fully commenced since 11 December 2017, sets out a range of obligations for individuals and organisations in relation to child protection. It is predicated on the clear principle that child protection issues are the responsibility of all Government Departments in their respective sectors, and that they must be embedded in the policy considerations of all Departments.

The Children First Inter-Departmental Implementation Group (CFIDIG) is a statutory group set up under the Children First Act 2015. Its membership is drawn from all Departments, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and Tusla. Its role is in relation to promoting compliance with the Children First legislation and guidance. While the CFIDIG does not have a direct role with regard to online safety, it does provide a forum for discussion on matters related to child protection.

As part of the Action Plan for Online Safety, my Department committed to amending the Children First Guidance to include a specific reference to the need to consider online safety in the completion of a Child Safeguarding Statement. An addendum to the guidance, clarifying the need to consider online safety in the preparation of risk assessments and Child Safeguarding Statements, was finalised and published on my Department's website in January. In addition, the Child and Family Agency - Tusla has revised its template for the completion of Child Safeguarding Statements to refer to the need to consider online risks to children if a service provides access to the internet.

At a national and community level, youth organisations and voluntary youth services funded by my Department provide education programmes, run awareness campaigns about bullying and provide programmes for young people to give them the knowledge and skills to build supportive links and counter bullying behaviours. Specifically, my Department supports the National Youth Health Programme which is in partnership with the HSE and the National Youth Council of Ireland. The programme's aims are to provide a broad-based, flexible health promotion / education support and training service to youth organisations and to all those working with young people in out-of school settings, and includes programmes aimed at exploring bullying and cyber bullying with young people.

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (366, 367)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

366. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she continues to interact with youth organisations nationally and in County Kildare with a view to providing financial support as required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

367. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her Department continues to liaise with groups involved in providing support for young persons nationally on an ongoing basis; the extent of such activity and award of financial support to date in 2019 in this regard nationally and in County Kildare in particular; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30452/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 366 and 367 together.

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. Most recently I met with the National Youth Organisations at a venue in Dublin on 11th April 2019.

In addition to this my Department has committed to convene formal meetings twice yearly between the Department and the 5 largest grantees from 2018 onwards. In May my officials met with Youth Work Ireland, Scouting Ireland, National Youth Council Ireland, Crosscare and Foróige in this regard.

Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the mapping exercise completed in 2017, which mapped youth service provision across the State as well as an Area Profiling, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement tool which was designed in collaboration with the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector and was officially launched in January 2019. 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.

The funding for the provision of youth services is administered on behalf of my Department by the ETBs. Funded Youth Services based in Kildare are overseen by Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) in matters relating to grants and service provision.

Child and Family Agency Data

Ceisteanna (368)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

368. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children deemed to be at risk; the extent to which this number has fluctuated on the basis of satisfactory or other outcomes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30453/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

This question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

I can inform the Deputy that data on the number of open cases, which are cases which have been assessed as requiring a social work intervention, is reported monthly, and published in the National Performance and Activity Dashboard on the Tusla website.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (369)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

369. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in care; the extent to which adequate resources, accommodation and ongoing supervision of their respective cases continues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30454/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Deputy is asking about an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla and asked them to reply directly to the Deputy.