HSE Staff Data

Ceisteanna (846)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

846. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of FTE childminder advisory officers employed. [30710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The National Childminding Initiative, which began in 2002, contained a number of strands to support childminders. One of the strands was the appointment of Childminding Advisory Officers, some of whom were employed by the HSE and some by City and County Childcare Committees. Their roles included offering information, support and training to childminders; maintaining the voluntary notification system; and administering other supports for childminders. The Childminding Advisory Officer posts were largely discontinued in 2012-2013 in the context of widespread budget cuts. One Childminding Advisory Officer post remains in place in a County Childcare Committee.

Notwithstanding the reduced resources, the City/County Childcare Committees and the National Voluntary Organisations, funded by my Department, have continued to play a significant role in supporting childminders as well as centre-based early learning and care and school age childcare services. Many of the actions have continued, including the continuation of the Childminding Development Grant scheme on an annual basis, through the work of other staff within City/County Childcare Committees.

My Department recently appointed a National Childminding Coordinator, who will support the implementation of the forthcoming Childminding Action Plan at national level, and who will also oversee the work of a new team of 6 regional Childminding Development Officers, for which funding was secured in Budget 2019.

The new Childminding Development Officer posts will be full-time posts, located within City and County Childcare Committees, with each regional officer supporting a cluster of City and County Childcare Committees to work with and support childminders.

Officials in my Department are currently working closely with City and County Childcare Committees to ensure the recruitment this summer of the new regional posts. Their immediate task will be to work with all the City and County Childcare Committees to maximise the number of childminders who can register with Tusla within the current regulatory framework and take part in the National Childcare Scheme. They will also play an important role in working with the City and County Childcare Committees to assist in the registration and support of a much wider cohort of childminders through the Childminding Action Plan.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Ceisteanna (847)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

847. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has considered making inspection reports from mother and baby homes that are in the ownership of her Department available to survivors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30711/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department would consider any request for access to records in its possession on a case by case basis in accordance with the relevant rights and protections governing access to public records, in particular where such records may contain sensitive personal information.

All records held by my Department in relation to Mother and Baby Homes have been disclosed to the Commission of Investigation to assist its statutory inquiries into related matters of significant public concern.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Ceisteanna (848)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

848. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes will be made available to these survivors after their testimony has been made. [30712/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In accordance with section 9 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is independent in the performance of its functions. The engagement with witnesses is a matter for the Commission and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs does not have any role or information in this regard. These operational considerations are managed directly by the independent Commission.

The Commission has previously confirmed that individuals who have met the Commission’s Confidential Committee may visit the Commission’s premises and hear the recording of their evidence and/or read the notes on their case if they so wish. Similarly, individuals who give evidence at a full Commission hearing may read the transcript of their evidence on the Commission’s premises. If individuals provide personal records to the Commission, it is the Commission's policy to photocopy these and return the originals to the people concerned on the day.

The legislative framework requires that evidence is generally given in private to facilitate fact finding while also protecting the rights of all individuals and bodies to fair procedure. The Commission has discretion to hear all or part of the evidence of a witness in public if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of both the investigation and fair procedures to do so, or where the Commission agrees to the request of a witness to provide all or part of his or her evidence in public. Compliance with these requirements prohibits the Commission from providing written transcripts directly to witnesses in the course of its investigations.

I want to acknowledge the courage it takes to provide testimony on such personal experiences, and the crucial importance of this information in informing the Commission’s work.

Childcare Services Data

Ceisteanna (849)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

849. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children on a waiting list for crèches by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30713/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department funds 30 City and County Childcare Committees across the country. Part of their role is to advise my Department on capacity issues. In the first instance I would encourage anyone having difficulty in securing a place to make contact with their local CCC. Contact details for all of the CCCs, in addition to other information about the services they provide, may be found on www.myccc.ie

Each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to childcare services in Ireland, including the monitoring of capacity. The Early Years Sector Profile report, which was published in November and relates to the 2017/2018 programme year, indicates that existing childcare provision nationally meets current needs nationwide in terms of capacity whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply may exist within this.

Pobal reports that nationally the trend suggests a reduction in waiting lists for older children and an increase for under twos. Pobal cautions that its data on waiting lists cannot by itself be used to inform capacity decisions as parents often place their children on more than one waiting list. The following table is the latest information available taken from the Pobal report.

County

Enrolled

Waiting list

Vacant places

Carlow

2,057

260

68

Cavan

3,120

249

104

Clare

4,280

192

383

Cork City

4,246

510

295

Cork County

14,662

869

1,032

Donegal

6,575

477

882

Dublin – Dublin City

16,075

3,492

581

Dublin – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

6,357

880

224

Dublin – Fingal

11,149

1,076

450

Dublin – South Dublin

9,294

639

373

Galway

10,514

571

620

Kerry

5,625

269

186

Kildare

8,045

350

304

Kilkenny

3,944

414

195

Laois

3,695

43

298

Leitrim

1,437

63

74

Limerick

7,805

865

278

Longford

1,685

168

59

Louth

4,297

238

197

Mayo

4,509

421

331

Meath

6,996

396

355

Monaghan

3,623

147

190

Offaly

2,697

123

225

Roscommon

2,311

172

98

Sligo

3,144

185

88

Tipperary

6,662

372

437

Waterford

4,612

274

203

Westmeath

3,781

316

385

Wexford

5,724

296

281

Wicklow

4,276

231

224

Total

173,197

14,558

9,420

Further, I secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019 with the ultimate aim of benefitting parents and children through improving our childcare infrastructure and capacity. A particular focus will be to expand service provision for children under three years of age.

Under the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan published in 2018, I ensured that Childcare was identified as one of our nation's strategic priorities. I am delighted that €250 million in additional funding has been committed to for the expansion of high quality, early learning and care and school age childcare over the duration of the Plan.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (850)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

850. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under her remit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30765/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the Deputy may be aware, any adjustments to the salaries of public and civil servants are set out in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) 2018-2020.

A suggested living wage of €12.30 per hour would equate to an annual salary of €23,747, based on a standard civil service net working week of 37 hours. In this Department, to apply the 'living wage' on that basis would cost in the region of €1,400 per annum based on current employee figures.

As the information requested is not readily available in respect of the agencies under my Department's remit, I have asked the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Children Detention School Campus and Tusla to furnish this information directly to the Deputy.

City and County Child Care Committees

Ceisteanna (851)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

851. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will ensure the appointment of a facilitator by each county childcare committee to engage and assist community childcare groups to reconfigure their services to meet the changing needs of parents within their communities rather than face closure due to competition from other providers or changing demographics; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department currently funds thirty City & County Childcare Committees (CCCs) across the country to assist in the ongoing delivery of early learning and care and school age childcare programmes. Each CCC has a number of DCYA funded staff.

The key objectives for the City/County Childcare Committees are agreed with my Department on an annual basis. One of these objectives is to identify community childcare groups that are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing sustainability challenges, and to intervene and provide support where this is required.

CCCs currently provide a number of sustainability supports to community childcare services, which are delivered in partnership with Pobal's Case Management team, under the direction of my Department. This can include the provision of expert guidance, identifying a service to Pobal where there is a requirement for targeted sustainability funding, and also assisting a service to review and reconfigure its operational or business model.

My Department has collaborated with CCCs in developing a suite of sustainability tools to assist this form of operational review, and has recently engaged in a nation-wide programme to train CCCs in their use. My Department also funded the distribution of the Managing Better series to community childcare services in early 2019. These booklets provide early learning and care and school age childcare services with valuable guidance in the areas of Good Governance, Financial Management, and HR.

Demand for early learning and care and school age childcare services continues to grow, with fewer vacancies across the system. This growing demand, together with the 117% increase in investment in the last 4 years, and the forthcoming introduction of the National Childcare Scheme, should enable services operate in a viable and sustainable manner once their business model is responsive to local need.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (852)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

852. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the different income streams directly paid by persons to her Department or agencies under her remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

There are no income streams, such as motor tax, paid directly by individuals to my Department or any of its agencies.

Project Ireland 2040

Ceisteanna (853)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

853. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30877/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I am unaware of any delay in capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 subject to my Department's remit or of its agencies.

School Discipline

Ceisteanna (854)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

854. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the 2008 guidelines on reduced timetables in schools deem a reduced timetable to be a suspension; if in such circumstances it should be reported to Tusla; if she will engage with the Department of Education and Skills in order that schools can be informed of their obligations in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guideline for Schools (NEWB, 2008) was published as part of the then NEWB’s overall strategy to support school attendance and participation. They were designed to provide support for schools in their work with students and their families to ensure that schools can maintain the best possible educational environment. The Guidelines were prepared with the help of an Expert Group, and wide-ranging inputs from management bodies, teacher unions, parent organisations, students, the Department of Education & Science (DES) and its agencies and services, non-governmental organisations, State agencies and many other contributors. The existing guidelines state that “Exclusion of a student for part of the school day, as a sanction, or asking parents to keep a child from school, as a sanction, is a suspension. Any exclusion imposed by a school is a suspension, and should follow the guidelines relating to a suspension”. The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 requires that when a student is suspended from a recognised school for a period of not less than 6 days the school must inform an Educational Welfare Officer. Tusla Educational Welfare Services (EWS) participated in the recent Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills examination of the matter of the use of reduced timetables in schools. My Department and the EWS are working closely with the Department of Education and Skills who have a lead role on this issue. It is important, however, to note that there are instances where, if agreed by all parties (the parents, child and the school) the use of a “reduced timetable” may, in certain exceptional circumstances, be deemed an appropriate short-term response to support a student’s continuation in education. In such instances it would be important that a record is maintained detailing such an agreed arrangement.

The issue of reduced timetables was the subject of a recent meeting of our National Advisory Council for Children and Young People wherein the range of issues, whereby these are used as sanctions, but in some cases supports, was considered. The National Advisory Council will continue to consider this issue and I intend to ensure that the perspectives of these experts would inform enhanced guidance which will be developed collaboratively by my Department, the Department of Education and Skills and Tusla Educational Welfare Services.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (855)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

855. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching capital investment strategy and is underpinned by a shared set of ten goals or National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) for every community across the country. My Department’s funding under the National Development Plan (NDP) is captured under NSO 10 – Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services. My Department has a €32 million in capital funding available to it in 2019. This funding is apportioned across the Department's Vote as set out in the following table.

Subhead

Allocation

A.3: Child and Family Agency (Tusla)

€17.194m

A.4: Oberstown Children Detention Campus

€2.000m

B.5: Childcare Programmes

€9.606m

B.6: Youth Organisations and Services

€3.200m

Child and Family Agency

Tusla's capital expenditure in 2019 will be split primarily between its Estates and ICT requirements. In excess of €12 million is to be spent on estates to include significant projects in Portlaoise and Limerick as well as various minor capital and equipping costs on various premises throughout the country. The ICT capital expenditure will involve €3 million on ICT infrastructure and €2 million on applications development and procurement.

Oberstown Children Detention Campus

Oberstown Children Detention Campus will commence projects on the demolition of the old campus building and on the resurfacing of an emergency fire track in 2019. A case management system that has been in development will also be completed this year.

Childcare Programmes

The capital funding will support a number of programmes in 2019 to assist providers and beneficiaries in developing capacity, quality and sustainability in the early learning and care sector.

The Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital programmes will spend €6.106m and will support the following -

- Strand A (Early Learning and Care) (€4.2m) to create new places for 0-3 year olds. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €50,000 in value to early learning and care providers where demand is clearly evidenced.

- Strand B (Early Learning and Care) (€0.8m) to provide fire safety for community services. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €15,000 to aid community/not-for-profit childcare services in addressing fire safety issues that have been highlighted in inspection reports by Tusla, the HSE or Local Authorities.

- Strand C (School Age Childcare) (€1m) to create new school age places. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €20,000 to school age childcare providers for the creation of newplaces where demand for these is clearly evidenced.

In addition to the above, €3 million will be made available under the Affordable Childcare Scheme Capital programme for a one-off capital grant to providers to assist in meeting the governance requirements of the scheme.

€0.25m is to be provided for parent and toddler groups organised on a not for profit basis and which involve the participation of parents in the community. Grants will range from €100 to €1000. Existing Parent and Toddler Groups can apply for a maximum of €800. New start up groups may apply for maximum grant of up to €1000.

A further €0.25m is being allocated to the Childminding Development Grant. A childminder can apply for a grant of up to €1,000 through their local Childcare Community Centre to purchase equipment for childminding practice in their home.

Youth Organisations and Services

Youth Organisation and Services will receive:

- €0.450m - for Play and Recreation to support the development and refurbishment of new and existing playgrounds. This funding is to be awarded to individual Local Authorities under an application based funding scheme.

- €0.350m - to fund the start-up capital and equipment costs of the twenty three Revised Youth Funding Scheme youth services, which have commenced around the country since 2016 as part of the process of reform of our youth services.

- €2.4 million - to support small capital projects in youth services and organisations. The application criteria for these capital funding grants are currently being finalised and the application criteria will be advertised to the relevant youth groups and organisations in due course.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (856)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

856. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30959/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching capital investment strategy and is underpinned by a shared set of ten goals or National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) for every community across the country. My Department’s funding under the National Development Plan (NDP) is captured under NSO 10Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services.

The National Development Plan 2018 - 2027 (NDP) published in February 2018 set out the multi annual capital allocations for all Departments out to 2027 and under the NDP my Department has secured a capital allocation of €156 million for the period 2018 – 2022.

I have also secured a commitment in the NDP of a further €250 million over the period 2023 – 2027 for investment in additional childcare provision. At this point I expect that up to 60% of this will be required in the period 2023 - 2024 to address immediate capacity issues in available childcare places through targeted capital investment. The remaining €100 million will be used between 2025 and 2027 to address further capacity demands and any emerging concerns.

In addition to childcare capital investment, capital investment has also been allocated to support continued investment in Tusla in order to address estates infrastructure deficits and improve ICT systems; to Oberstown Children Detention Campus for ongoing investment and maintenance of the campus; and to Youth Services for play & recreation grants, the upgrade and replacement of equipment and to support the provision of quality services to young people.

I am satisfied at this point in time that the projected capital allocations under the NDP to 2027 will meet projected cost requirements.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (857)

James Browne

Ceist:

857. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children that died while in the care of the Tusla to date in 2019; the number of such children that died by suicide; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The information the Deputy requires is compiled by 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.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (858)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

858. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of capital projects being undertaken by her Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The nature of my Department's capital investment programme is that of multi-annual discreet projects. The construction of the National Children Detention Campus at Oberstown. Co Dublin has been the largest single project advanced by the Department in recent years.

My Department has a €32 million in capital funding in 2019. This funding is apportioned across the Department's Vote as set out in the following table:

Subhead

Allocation

A.3: Child and Family Agency (Tusla)

€17.194m

A.4: Oberstown Children Detention Campus

€2.000m

B.5: Childcare Programmes

€9.606m

B.6: Youth Organisations and Services

€3.200m

Child and Family Agency

Tusla's capital expenditure in 2019 will be split primarily between its Estates and ICT requirements. In excess of €12 million is to be spent on estates to include significant projects in Portlaoise and Limerick as well as various minor capital and equipping costs on various premises throughout the country. The ICT capital expenditure will involve €3 million on ICT infrastructure and €2 million on applications development and procurement.

Oberstown Children Detention Campus

Oberstown Children Detention Campus will commence projects on the demolition of the old campus building and on the resurfacing of an emergency fire track in 2019. A case management system that has been in development will also be completed this year.

Childcare Programmes

The capital funding will support a number of programmes in 2019 to assist providers and beneficiaries in developing capacity, quality and sustainability in the early learning and care sector.

The Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital programmes will spend €6.106m and will support the following -

- Strand A (Early Learning and Care) (€4.2m) to create new places for 0-3 year olds. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €50,000 in value to early learning and care providers where demand is clearly evidenced.

- Strand B (Early Learning and Care) (€0.8m) to provide fire safety for community services. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €15,000 to aid community/not-for-profit childcare services in addressing fire safety issues that have been highlighted in inspection reports by Tusla, the HSE or Local Authorities.

- Strand C (School Age Childcare) (€1m) to create new school age places. This strand will offer individual grants of up to €20,000 to school age childcare providers for the creation of newplaces where demand for these is clearly evidenced.

In addition to the above, €3 million will be made available under the Affordable Childcare Scheme Capital programme for a one-off capital grant to providers to assist in meeting the governance requirements of the scheme.

€0.25m is to be provided for parent and toddler groups organised on a not for profit basis and which involve the participation of parents in the community. Grants will range from €100 to €1000. Existing Parent and Toddler Groups can apply for a maximum of €800. New start up groups may apply for maximum grant of up to €1000.

A further €0.25m is being allocated to the Childminding Development Grant. A childminder can apply for a grant of up to €1,000 through their local Childcare Community Centre to purchase equipment for childminding practice in their home.

Youth Organisations and Services

Youth Organisation and Services will receive:

- €0.450m - for Play and Recreation to support the development and refurbishment of new and existing playgrounds. This funding is to be awarded to individual Local Authorities under an application based funding scheme.

- €0.350m - to fund the start-up capital and equipment costs of the twenty three Revised Youth Funding Scheme youth services, which have commenced around the country since 2016 as part of the process of reform of our youth services.

- €2.4 million - to support small capital projects in youth services and organisations. The application criteria for these capital funding grants are currently being finalised and the application criteria will be advertised to the relevant youth groups and organisations in due course.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (859)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

859. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31085/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Officials in my Department are currently compiling the information as requested by the Deputy. I have asked my officials follow up on this to ensure delivery as a matter of urgency.

Childcare Services Staff

Ceisteanna (860)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

860. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has considered introducing pay guidelines for persons employed in the childcare sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31188/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care or school-age childcare settings, and I cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for these staff. My Department is not in a position at present to introduce pay guidelines for those working in the sector.

I am, however, doing all that is in my power to improve wages and working conditions in the sector. I have repeatedly called for the sector to pursue a Sectoral Employment Order, which offers a viable mechanism to establish appropriate wage levels. My Department will readily co-operate with such a process when it is underway.

In the interim, I have introduced a range of measures to support employers to improve pay and conditions. These include a 7% increase in ECCE capitation in 2018; higher capitation payments for graduates and Inclusion Coordinators; annual Programme Support Payments to recognise administrative demands; support for School-Age Childcare which will make it easier to offer full-time employment contracts; and a pilot measure to fund participation in CPD.

I have set out my vision for the sector, and a roadmap to achieve it, in First 5. First 5 commits to a Workforce Development Plan, to raise the profile of careers in the sector and to ensure sufficient numbers of staff at all levels. The Steering Group for the Workforce Development Plan met for the first time on 30 May 2019, and the Stakeholder Group held its first meeting on 9 July 2019. First 5 also commits to develop a new funding model for the sector, which may open up new mechanisms to influence pay and conditions.

Guardians Ad Litem

Ceisteanna (861)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

861. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the projected costings and budget allocation for the proposed new body to be established in her Department to oversee the work of guardians ad litem. [31223/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In 2017, the Government approved the establishment of a new national Guardian ad litem (GAL) service within an executive office of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, on an interim basis, with a view to longer term arrangements for the Office being dealt with in the context of the proposed transition to a Family Courts system.

The Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2019, which I hope to publish shortly, will provide for a new GAL service to be established within an executive office of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It will also provide for a presumption in favour of a GAL being appointed for all children in child care proceedings.

Costing projections indicate that the new service can be provided within existing resources and the restructuring of the service will provide scope to extend the service to all children who are the subject of child care proceedings within the current expenditure envelope. The costs associated with the provision of GAL services amounted to €14.65m in 2018 and €14m in 2017. My Department is working closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the provision of funding for the establishment of the Guardian ad litem Executive Office.

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (862)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

862. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 231 of 27 June 2019, the reason the number of children in a given facility that can be funded under the community childcare subvention programme is based on a snapshot window in September and October (details supplied); if parents are alerted to the fact in order that they can plan for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31232/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the Deputy will be aware the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme is only available through participating community not-for-profit childcare services. CCS is determined based on a snap shot of children registered in services contracted under CCS during a particular snapshot period and eligibility for approval of funding is based on the parent and/or child meeting the CCS eligibility criteria in that snap shot period.

The snapshot (which initially was for one week only and subsequently got extended to a four week period) is in place to assist the managing of the process for verifying client eligibility with DEASP and as a budget control mechanism. Funding is approved to services, for the full programme year based on the level of service provision as submitted through the child registrations and the final 'CCS band approval'. Funding is committed to the services for the full programme year on the basis that if a child leaves the services before the planned childcare end date, the service can retain the funding but should make all efforts to provide the CCS funding subsidy to another child who may not have been registered in the services over the snapshot period but who may otherwise have been eligible for CCS funding. Funding is approved for the full programme year to allow the service the ability to determine their annual budgets for the year and manage on this basis.

However, the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) scheme which was introduced in 2016, and is not based on a “snapshot” period. It allows for greater flexibility with start dates and a child can be registered at anytime during the 52 week programme year. Community services can be in contract for both CCS and CCSP.

To assist with the transition to the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) the CCS programme will be streamlined for this coming 2019/20 programme year. The CCS Scheme will be merged with the CCSP scheme once the current programme year comes to an end in August 2019. All CCS eligible children must be registered on CCSP for the new programme year 2019/20. As CCSP has identical eligibility criteria, levels of service and band rates to CCS, this will have no impact on the levels of funding to parents.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (863)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

863. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the oversight of her Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by her Department following these results; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31319/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The information requested is currently being collated by my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as it is finalised.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (864)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

864. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the recurring weekly meetings attended by either her or the Secretary General of her Department in 2019 at which climate change and or preparations within her Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I can inform the Deputy that there were no recurring weekly meetings attended in 2019 by either myself or the Secretary General of my Department at which climate change or a climate action plan for my Department has been an agenda item.

Charitable and Voluntary Organisations

Ceisteanna (865)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

865. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the 50 Pobal posts that were announced for Mullingar, County Westmeath; when the positions will be located in the town; the timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31455/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Pobal is a not for profit company established by the Irish Government in 1992. It works on behalf of the Irish Government in managing and supporting programmes in the areas of Social Inclusion and Equality, Inclusive Employment and Enterprise, and Early Years and Young People.

Pobal are currently negotiating on the rental and fit out of a new office space in Mullingar, County Westmeath. The new space is expected to accommodate up to 50 seats. Whilst negotiations are ongoing, once the office is secured a number of new jobs will be created and these will be advertised in the Autumn on www.pobal.ie, their twitter account @Pobal and other sources.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (866)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

866. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30593/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department's ICT services are provided by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform through the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO).

The OGCIO implements a multi-layered approach to cyber security and to protecting ICT systems, infrastructures and services. OGCIO implements a defence-in-depth security strategy which is achieved through the effective combination of People, Processes, and Technology to support the implementation of appropriate security measures and provisions. With the threat landscape constantly evolving, significant effort is expended to continually enhance and strengthen ICT security to mitigate against emerging threats, risks, vulnerabilities and cybersecurity issues.

I am advised that in terms of cyber security strategies, OGCIO also continues to work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre which is a division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and encompasses the State's national/governmental Computer Security Incident Response Team.

My Department has no evidence to indicate any cybersecurity breaches in the past 12 months

LEADER Programmes Data

Ceisteanna (867)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

867. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he is satisfied with the level of drawdown under the LEADER programme in County Meath. [30599/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The LEADER programme is administered in County Meath by the Meath Local Action Group (LAG). The LAG is the Meath Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in partnership with Meath County Council and Meath Partnership CLG. The total amount of funding allocated to the county for the duration of the LEADER Programme is in excess of €6.9 million.

To-date, 50 projects with a combined grant value of over €2.1 million have been approved by the LAG. This amounts to almost 43% of its project budget. A further 11 projects, with a value of €669,806, are at an earlier stage of the approvals process.

Claims totalling €288,898 have been paid for projects in County Meath. Project payments will increase as project works are completed and claims for payment are submitted by the project promoters.

As advised previously, my Department has reviewed the delivery of the programme with the Meath LAG and explored implementation issues with all of the delivery partners in Meath. Following on from this review, the LAG has stated that at least 80% of the project budget available in Meath will be allocated by the end of 2019. This would be consistent with the objectives of the programme nationally and I will continue to monitor the achievement of this target in the coming months.

Tidy Towns Committees Funding

Ceisteanna (868)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

868. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will make funding available to tidy towns groups. [30600/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The TidyTowns competition was originally launched by Fáilte Ireland over 60 years ago. Since its inception, the competition has grown from 52 entrants in 1958, to 915 entries this year. The continued success of the competition is due to the countless hours of effort from TidyTowns Committees the length and breadth of the country.

As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I was delighted to be in a position to announce grant funding to TidyTowns Committees of €1.4 million for each of the years 2017 and 2018, to mark the 60th anniversary of the competition. This funding has allowed the Committees to better prepare for the annual competition through the purchase or upgrade of small equipment and other materials.

Under the 2017 allocation, 906 TidyTowns Committees received grant funding of between €1,000 and €4,000 each, depending on the size of their town or village. Under the 2018 allocation, 858 TidyTowns Committees availed of similar levels of funding.

I will consider, later this year, whether I will be in a position to allocate funding to the TidyTowns Committees through this particular funding stream in 2019. It should be noted that TidyTowns Committees can apply, as community groups, for funding to other schemes within my Department, such as the Community Enhancement Programme. That programme is administered through the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and in 2018, 158 Tidy Town Committees were approved for funding totalling €536,816 under this scheme.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (869)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

869. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30777/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department has calculated that, as of July 2019, the cost of implementing a Living Wage of €12.30 per hour is estimated to be €120,186.30 for all staff in respect of a full year.

In respect of the bodies under the aegis of my Department, information relating to pay in those bodies is a matter for the bodies concerned.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (870)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

870. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the different income streams directly paid by persons to his Department or agencies under his remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30860/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I can confirm that my Department is not in receipt of any such income streams.