School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (2545)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

2545. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost per annum of restoring funding to the school completion programme to 2010 levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was transferred from the Department of Education to the Department of Children

and Youth Affairs on its establishment in 2011.

In January 2014 Tusla, the Child and Family Agency was established and as part of the remit of the Agency they took on the functions of the former NEWB: chiefly the Education and Welfare Services (EWS). The EWS comprises the statutory functions relating to Educational Welfare Officers; the operationalisation of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme; and the funding of the School Completion Programme (SCP).

The 124 SCP projects are funded in line with the academic year, commencing in September each year. Funding provision for the SCP in the 2018/2019 school year stands at €24.7 million. The Programme experienced funding reductions during the financial crisis and while funding for the SCP has remained at the same level in recent years, Tusla has advised that full-year cost of restoring the SCP to 2010 funding levels would be in the region of €7.3 million per annum.

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department has developed and is currently consulting on the draft Blueprint for the Development of Education and Welfare Services which, for the first time will provide a policy platform to secure and further sustain this valuable work. A substantive area of action in this policy relates to the SCP and the redesign of the School Completion Programme to ensure its development is actively supported.

As part of this process I will be seeking to ensure appropriate and additional funding is secured to support the further development of the School Completion Programme in meeting the needs of children and young people.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Ceisteanna (2546)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

2546. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of recruiting an additional ten aftercare workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32797/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Ceisteanna (2547)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

2547. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of additional staff required by Tusla to deal with its large caseload; the detail of the roles required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have submitted this to Tusla for direct response to the Deputy.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Ceisteanna (2548)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

2548. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the expected targets of the recent Tusla recruitment drive and open day aimed at recruiting social workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have submitted this to Tusla for direct response to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (2549)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

2549. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding available for the access inclusion model for preschool children with special needs over the past five years; the number of children accessing the model; the number of SNAs directly employed through the model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32873/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), which was launched in June 2016, is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can meaningfully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early learning and care.

AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child in the context of the pre-school setting they are attending. AIM is administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The levels of AIM that children benefit directly from may fall under Levels 1, 4, 5 or 7 of AIM.

AIM Level 1 recognises that a strong culture of inclusion must be fostered and embedded to support all children’s maximum participation in the ECCE programme. This includes the new higher education programme in Leadership for Inclusion in Early Years (LINC), established in 2016 with provision for 900 participants annually for four years. Pre-school settings employing an Inclusion Coordinator (who has graduated from the LINC Programme and has agreed to take on the role of Inclusion Coordinator (INCO) in the pre-school setting) receive an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.

AIM Level 5 provides for access to specialised equipment, appliances, assistive technology and/or minor alterations capital grants for early years’ settings to ensure children with a disability can participate in the ECCE programme. A short report from a designated professional is required confirming that the specialised equipment or minor building alterations are necessary. A once-off provision for AIM Inclusive Play packs was also included in 2017 and 2018 budget allocation outlined below.

AIM Level 7 provides additional assistance in the pre-school room where this is critical to ensuring a child’s participation in the ECCE programme. In line with emerging best practice to support the integration and independence of children with a disability, AIM does not fund Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). Rather, it provides financial support to the pre-school provider, which can be used either to reduce the adult-to-child ratio in the pre-school room or to buy in additional assistance to the pre-school room. Accordingly, Level 7 assistance is a shared resource for the pre-school setting. The AIM Level 7 budget allocation shown below also includes the service administration fee in relation to all of these levels managed by Pobal.

AIM was launched in June 2016. The total funding allocated by my Department and outturn from 2016 to date in 2019 for levels 1, 5 and 7 of AIM is set out below.* Funding for AIM Level 6 comes from the Department of Health Vote.

Year

2016

2016

2017

2017

2018

2018

2019

2019

Allocation / Outturn

Allocation

Outturn

Allocation

Outturn

Allocation

Outturn

Allocation

Outturn to date

Level of AIM

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Level 1

-

-

0.60

0.60

2.00

2.10

3.80

1.60

Level 5

1.61

0.12

2.50

3.07

2.50

2.04

1.25

0.35

Level 6

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Level 7

3.93

0.92

8.60

8.60

12.00

16.04

17.56

10.21

*Figures rounded to the nearest thousand.

The number of children benefiting from targeted AIM supports and the number of approved AIM Level 7 applications to date since the introduction of AIM in September 2016 are shown on the following table. Thousands more children have benefitted from the universal supports provided under AIM.

AIM -Table

-

No. of Children benefiting from AIM Supports provided

Number of AIM Level 7 Applications Approved

ECCE 2016/2017

2,486

1,332

ECCE 2017/2018

4,107

3,009

ECCE 2018/2019 (to date)

5,465

3,935

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (2550)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

2550. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of continuing the CETS and CCS schemes with the national childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Through the National Childcare Scheme and a range of other measures, I am committed to changing Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the very best. In designing the National Childcare Scheme, extensive research and consultations have been carried out to ensure that this goal is achieved and that the Scheme can help as many families as possible.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS), when introduced this October, will replace the CCS and TEC schemes with a single, streamlined scheme. The shift from those legacy schemes reflects an evidence informed approach to subsidising childcare driven by the key objectives of :

- Streamlining the existing targeted schemes to make them more accessible for both parents and providers,

- Providing a fair and consistent system of progressive financial support towards the cost of childcare, with a particular focus, at least initially, on low income families but also incorporating universal supports, and

- Providing a robust and flexible platform for future investment in childcare in Ireland.

It is not possible to accurately assess the cost of running both the new scheme and the old schemes in parallel as they would both largely be targeting the same groups who may opt for either scheme, or individual providers may choose to make only one or the other available to parents availing of their services where all schemes are open and live. An infrastructure would be required to support both which would not be cost efficient.

However, critically, arrangements are in place to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new Scheme. Families accessing “legacy” schemes can continue to access their current targeted supports (including CCSP and CETS as well as CEC and ASCC), remaining on their current payment, until the end of August 2020 or they can opt to move to the National Childcare Scheme. In this way, the scheme will effectively continue to run for those families and for providers. It is estimated that the subsidy cost of this transitional provision could be €16m for the programme year 19/20. It should be noted that there is considerable margin for error as it will depend closely on the number of individuals who are in work or study and are participating on current schemes. This information is not available.

The NCS replaces four legacy schemes and in doing so addresses some of the issues associated with these schemes, embedding a “money follows the child” policy approach. As well as increasing the number of families who can avail of subsidised childcare, it 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, and to appropriately incentivise employment and education / training for parents. Many parents will see an increase to the level of subsidy they currently receive.

From a provider perspective the new scheme simplifies and streamlines business processes, not least because it allows parents apply directly for subsidies instead of going through their childcare provider.

Running both schemes simultaneously and beyond a transitional period would undermine the original intent of the NCS. It would create a considerable technical and administrative overhead for both the scheme administrator and service providers. It would also undermine the significant work done to build a system which greatly improves the governance and compliance associated with the use of Exchequer funds. NCS addresses many of the governance and compliance concerns associated with the legacy schemes.

It is worth noting that the new scheme is not static. The National Childcare Scheme establishes a sustainable platform to enable us to continue investing for years to come. The Scheme is designed to be flexible, allowing income thresholds, maximum hours and subsidy rates to be adjusted in line with Government decisions and as more investment becomes available. The Minister and Department have committed to monitoring and reviewing the progress of the scheme. Continuing legacy schemes indefinitely would be a retrograde step for children, parents, providers and for the State.

Family Support Services

Ceisteanna (2551)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

2551. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of allocating a family support worker to each homeless family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As these are operational matters, I have asked Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, to respond directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Surveys

Ceisteanna (2552)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2552. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of feasibility studies conducted by her Department in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the names of each project being studied; the amount allocated and drawn down for each study; the person or body that sought each study; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32936/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I am not aware of any studies funded by my department in the Galway region that come under the general description or category of a feasibility study. If the deputy wishes to supply more specific information, I will have it examined.

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

Ceisteanna (2553, 2554, 2555, 2556, 2577, 2580)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

2553. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 719 and 720 of 9 July 2019, the eligibility criteria for the transitional support payment; if the details will be published of the calculation of same for providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

2554. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 719 and 720 of 9 July 2019, the calculation methodology for national childcare scheme subsidies that reflect the payment for administrative work and non-contact time for providers; the reason for combining subsidies in this manner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32970/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

2555. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 719 and 720 of 9 July 2019, her plans for the future of the programme support payment for the administration of the ECCE scheme in view of the roll-out of the national childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32971/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

2556. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 719 and 720 of 9 July 2019, the expenditure on PSP payments each year since its introduction to date; the date on which the snapshot point has taken place for each of these years; the reason for changing the date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

2577. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the financial support that will be provided to childcare providers in relation to the substantial costs in administering existing childcare programmes and the national childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

2580. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will revise the estimated staff costs built into the affordable childcare scheme and accordingly increase them upwards in order that childcare workers can be paid a better wage. [34354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2553 to 2556, inclusive, 2577 and 2580 together.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is set to open in October 2019. It is a new, user-friendly scheme to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare. The development of the Scheme is a significant move forward in delivering quality, accessible, affordable childcare to families throughout Ireland. A key objective in the roll-out of this scheme is the streamlining of existing schemes and an improved experience from the provider perspective.

I am very aware of the administrative requirements associated with childcare including those associated with the administration of schemes under my Department. In acknowledgement of this, I have provided for support payments in respect of these schemes.

Over €19m of Programme Support Payments (PSPs), including approximately €10m for ECCE alone, have been made available to early learning and care and school age childcare providers this summer in recognition of the additional time required to complete the administrative work associated with the various DCYA-funded schemes. The payment also recognises the time required to perform activities outside of contact time with children, such as preparing materials for early learning and care sessions and assisting parents in understanding how they might benefit from the various early learning and care and school age childcare schemes supported by the State.

Since the introduction of the Programme Support Payment, then referred to as the “non-contact time” payment, in summer 2017, different “snapshot” periods have been used during the programme year to calculate the payment in an equitable manner.

- In summer 2017, a snapshot period of May 2017 was used to calculate payment for ECCE. For CCS, CCSP and TEC programmes a snapshot period of June 17 was used to calculate payment.

- In winter 2017, a snapshot period of November 2017 was used to calculate payment for CCSP, CCSU, CCSRT, CCS and for TEC. This payment was made to the targeted schemes only in light of the introduction of the September Measures in September 2017.

- In summer 2018, a snapshot period of May 2018 was used to calculate payment for ECCE. The winter 2017 payment was repeated for the targeted schemes, in instances where no winter 2017 payment was allocated a snapshot of May 2018 was used.

- In summer 2019, a snapshot period of December 2018 for all programmes was used to calculate payment.

PSP is calculated and administered on an annual basis in recognition of changing circumstances within the sector as well as the budget available. Different snapshot periods have therefore been used to calculate PSP in an equitable and fair way.

While the budget for PSP has increased since introduction, the PSP remains a budget limited programme that cannot be demand lead and must therefore be reconsidered on an annual basis as circumstances change; for example significantly increased child registrations. The distribution of the 2019 PSP has been designed to be fair, effective and in keeping with the general policy set in previous years, in so far as possible.

It should also be noted that subsidies for childcare under the National Childcare Scheme will reflect the non-contact and administrative requirements associated with childcare. The estimate of the cost of provision underpinning the Scheme proposals involved development of a model of a typical childcare service, using a range of available data sources to estimate costs for running such a service, and then carrying out sensitivity analysis for the impact of variation in key cost elements.

This cost model is detailed in the “Policy Paper on the Development of a New Single Affordable Childcare Scheme” (2016). The cost model encompassed non-contact activities such as: planning daily activities, recording observations of children’s development and activities, communication with parents, staff-meetings, and engagement with external agencies and assumed this to equate to 5% of contact hours.

Notwithstanding this I also recognise the unique requirements associated with the roll-out of a new scheme and on this basis I have launched a National Childcare Scheme Transitional Support Payment. Details of eligibility and the basis for calculation for this scheme were published on June 10th 2019.

This payment is available to providers who sign a contract for the National Childcare Scheme and is intended to support them in meeting the administrative requirements associated with transitioning to the new Scheme. The size of the maximum payment available to each service will be based on the available fund and the number of children in the applying services who are actively registered on one of the Department’s childcare programmes on 13th May 2019.

I have also launched a National Childcare Scheme Capital Grant Initiative. This initiative offers a capital grant to participating service providers for the purchase of qualifying ICT hardware and software to support certain administrative requirements associated with attendance tracking.

I will continue to work intensively to deliver this landmark scheme which will alter the landscape of childcare in Ireland, support families, provide a sustainable platform for investment and, crucially, allow us to continue to invest in giving our children the best start in life.

Family Resource Centres

Ceisteanna (2557)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

2557. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated amount it would cost in 2020 if the budget for family resource centres increased by 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33149/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, administers the Family Resource Centre (FRC) Programme.

In Budget 2019, I secured an increase of €1.5 million for the FRC Programme. This brings the overall financial allocation for the Programme in 2019 to €18 million.

It would cost €1.8 million if the budget for FRCs increased by 10%.

Childcare Services Data

Ceisteanna (2558)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

2558. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of providing 300 extra therapy staff for children's services commencing in budget 2020 to 2024; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33392/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Missing Children

Ceisteanna (2559)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

2559. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children reported missing from residential care homes in each of the years since 2011; the location of the residential homes; if such children were relocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33421/19]

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 that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the location of residential centres is not published by Tusla. The safety and well-being of the children residing in these placements is the primary consideration for Tusla.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (2560)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2560. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has met with the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in order to discuss the role of Irish in early childhood learning and care. [33665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department has engaged extensively with colleagues in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills in agreeing a comprehensive set of actions to be implemented under the Action Plan for the Irish Language 2018 to 2022, launched by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in June 2018. Officials from my Department attended this launch. This five year action plan sets out a range of agreed actions, with associated timeframes, to be implemented in support of the overarching 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030.

My Department has committed to a range of actions under this plan designed to affirm the importance of the role that early learning and care settings can play in fostering Irish language proficiency. The aim of these actions is to build on existing measures, supports and partnerships in the area of Irish-medium early years education and further improve supports and services. The agreed actions include the creation of two Irish language early years posts to co-ordinate the development of Irish language provision in the early years sector in non Gaeltacht areas, and the establishment of a baseline of supports for naíonraí that will inform future policy plans.

My Department has established a dedicated Early Years National Oversight Group that monitors the implementation of the early years specific actions contained within the action plan. This group is comprised of officials from the both the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills, as well as other relevant Irish language stakeholder organisations. Officials from my Department are also represented on the overarching Oversight Group established by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Efforts are also being made within my Department to ensure improved communication with Irish speaking childcare services, in particular in the context of the major national childcare schemes that my Department funds.

In respect of the forthcoming National Childcare Scheme, the website and parent application will be available in Irish. Irish speaking support staff are available to answer parental queries, and communications in relation to the Scheme are also available in Irish. Training and materials for the Access and Inclusion Model that helps children with a disability to participate in the ECCE scheme are available through Irish.

These are just some examples of the ways in which my Department is engaging with, and ensuring that, Irish medium childcare services are facilitated to provide their services through the Irish language.

My Department remains committed to supporting services wishing to operate through the medium of Irish, and will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders in this regard.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (2561)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2561. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she has taken in to support Irish language medium preschool care and education since the closure of an organisation (details supplied). [33666/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I am very conscious of the value of supporting the provision of services in the Irish language to children at an early age, and of the role pre-schools and crèches can play in promoting Irish as a living language. In that regard, my Department has participated pro-actively with colleagues in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills in agreeing a comprehensive set of actions to be implemented under the Action Plan for the Irish Language 2018 to 2022, launched by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in June 2018. This five year action plan sets out a range of agreed actions, with associated timeframes, to be implemented in support of the overarching 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030.

My Department has committed to a range of actions designed to affirm the importance of the role that early learning and care settings can play in fostering Irish language proficiency. The aim of these actions is to build on existing measures, supports and partnerships in the area of Irish-medium early years education and further improve supports and services. The agreed actions include the creation of two Irish language early years posts to co-ordinate the development of Irish language provision in the early years sector in non Gaeltacht areas, and the establishment of a baseline of supports for naíonraí that will inform future policy plans. My Department has established a dedicated Early Years National Oversight Group that monitors the implementation of the early years specific actions contained within the action plan.

Efforts are also being made within my Department to ensure improved communication with Irish speaking childcare services, in particular in the context of the major national childcare schemes that my Department funds. The many supports that my Department offers are available to all early learning and care services, and efforts are being made to ensure improved communication with Irish speaking childcare services.

In respect of the forthcoming National Childcare Scheme, the website and parent application will be available in Irish. Irish speaking support staff are available to answer parental queries, and communications in relation to the Scheme are also available in Irish. Training and materials for the Access and Inclusion Model that helps children with a disability to participate in the ECCE scheme are available through Irish.

These are just some examples of the ways in which my Department is engaging with, and ensuring that, Irish medium childcare services are facilitated to provide their services through the Irish language.

A Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families was launched on 19th November. This ambitious ten year plan contains two actions specifically aimed at supporting the development of the Irish language within the early learning and care sector. These actions are as follows:

- Introduce measures to ensure that children in Gaeltacht areas have access to Irish-medium ELC provision;

- Develop mechanisms to provide Irish-language supports to ELC provision where there are high proportions of children who are learning through the medium of Irish.

An implementation plan for the actions contained within that Strategy was published in May. My Department will lead on the delivery of the second action, which links to the Department's commitments under the Irish Language Action Plan.

As of July 2019, Pobal confirmed that there are 243 childcare services that identify as Naíonraí on the PIP system. Of these 243 services, 236 provide ECCE services. Since the start of the current programme year a total of 7,515 children have registered for ECCE at these services.

My Department remains committed to supporting services wishing to operate through the medium of Irish, and will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders in this regard.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (2562)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2562. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding that her Department has provided in order to support Irish language-medium preschool care and education in tabular form.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33667/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

A Naíonra is a playgroup run through Irish for children (aged 3-5 years), who attend daily for 2-3 hours, under the guidance and supervision of a Stiúrthóir (Leader). As of July 2019, Pobal confirmed that there are 243 Naíonraí services registered on the PIP system that have been contracted to provide at least one DCYA programme in 2018/19.

Please find below in tabular form the funding that my Department has provided to Irish language medium early learning and care services. These figures relate to the various funding streams provided in the years 2017 and 2018, and in particular in respect of the 2017/2018 programme year for the national childcare programmes. It is important to note that the term 'naíonra' is self reported on the PIP system. There may be other services in contract which do not define themselves as naíonraí but that are wholly or predominantly Irish speaking, and which are therefore not included in the below funding figures.

Programme Call

Total Amount Paid

AIM Level 5 Alterations 2017

8,502

AIM Level 5 Alterations 2018

13,839

AIM Level 7 2017-2018

612,071

Community Childcare Subvention 2017-2018

1,299,717

Community Childcare Subvention Plus 2017-2018

3,207,272

Early Childhood Care and Education 2017-2018

19,297,143

Early Years Capital 2018 Strand 1 Expansion/New Service

177,044

Early Years Capital 2018 Strand 2 Essential Building Maintenance

60,000

Early Years Capital 2018 Strand 3 Natural Outdoor Play

32,823

Early Years Capital 2017 Strand 1

276,701

Early Years Capital 2017 Strand 2

32,100

Early Years Capital 2017 Strand 3

72,821

School Aged Capital Strand 2 Essential Building Maintenance 2018

4,540

School Aged Capital 2017 Strand A

38,804

School Aged Capital 2017 Strand B

29,574

School Aged Capital 2017 Strand C

28,432

TEC After School Childcare (ASCC) 2017-2018

25,412

TEC Childcare Education & Training Support 2017-2018

241,315

TEC Community Employment Childcare (CECAS) 2017-2018

37,784

TEC Community Employment Childcare (CECPS) 2017-2018

81,808

Total

25,577,702

Childcare Services Administration

Ceisteanna (2563, 2564)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

2563. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a payment (details supplied) will be included as part of the reckonable income for the purposes of calculating subsidy rates for the scheme with regard to the ongoing finalisation of the regulations governing the national childcare scheme; if the matter has been given consideration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

2564. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if child benefit will be included as part of the reckonable income for the purposes of calculating subsidy rates for the scheme with regard to the ongoing finalisation of the regulations governing the national childcare scheme; if the matter has been given consideration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2563 and 2564 together.

Through the National Childcare Scheme and a range of other measures, I am committed to changing Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the very best. In designing the National Childcare Scheme, extensive research and consultations have been carried out to ensure that this goal is achieved and that the Scheme can help as many families as possible.

The Childcare Support Act defines what may be considered as income for the purposes of the income assessment. This includes “income whether in the nature of a benefit or allowance arising from social welfare, social insurance or other sources of a similar character”. This category would include payments under a settlement, covenant, estate or a payment in respect of maintenance and also child benefit.

As the definition of income is contained in the Act, “income” is not the subject of a definition in the Regulations to be made. The basis for “allowable deductions” from the income assessment are as described in Schedule 1 of the Childcare Support Act 2018. In short they relate to payments that support participation in employment, education or enable a person meet expenses from exception family or social circumstances.

The National Childcare Scheme will greatly increase the number of families who can access financial support. 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, and to make work pay for parents. Many parents will see an increase to the level of subsidy they currently receive based on an income assessment at the core of the targeted component of the scheme.

By making this shift and by tangibly reducing the cost of quality childcare, the Scheme aims to improve children's outcomes, support lifelong learning, make work pay and reduce child poverty. It is also designed to have a positive impact on gender equality in relation to labour market participation and employment opportunities.

School Discipline

Ceisteanna (2565)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

2565. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if Tusla intends to inform schools that a reduced timetable put in place for a child is, under its 2008 guidelines, deemed a suspension and should be recorded and reported to Tusla by schools. [33851/19]

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.

Foster Care Data

Ceisteanna (2566)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

2566. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of new Tusla foster carers including relative carers approved by foster care committees by local health office in each of the past 24 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33856/19]

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 that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

Foster Care Data

Ceisteanna (2567)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

2567. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of new private agency foster carers approved by foster care committees by local health office in each of the past 24 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33857/19]

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 that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

Foster Care Data

Ceisteanna (2568)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

2568. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in Tusla foster care placement placed outside of their original local health office area by local health office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33858/19]

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 referred the question to Tusla and asked that a direct reply be provided to the Deputy.

Foster Care Data

Ceisteanna (2569)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

2569. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in private foster care placements placed outside of their origin local health office by local health office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33859/19]

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 referred the question to Tusla and asked that a direct reply be provided to the Deputy.