Ministerial Advisers Data

Ceisteanna (1661)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

1661. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the name of each person employed as an adviser or special adviser to her and the Minister of State in her Department; the salary of each in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I have appointed two Special Advisers in my Department. The appointments have been made in accordance with Instructions for Ministerial Appointments as published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. These instructions set specific conditions to be met in respect of such appointments including salaries to be applied. Please see the following table for details.

Name

Role

Salary Scale

Point on Scale

Patricia Ryan

Special Adviser

Principal Officer Standard Scale - PPC

5

Sinéad Fennell

Special Adviser

Principal Officer Standard Scale - PPC

1

Youth Services Funding

Ceisteanna (1662)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

1662. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the situation by which a project (details supplied) is facing a serious threat without funding will be addressed; and if she will extend the funding and continue the commissioning process at the same time. [34858/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services’ funding ever undertaken. This reform is informed by the 2014 Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Funding Programmes. This review made a number of recommendations for the future operation of youth schemes and their development in the years ahead to ensure an evidence-based and outcomes-focused programme designed to secure optimal outcomes for young people. The review recommended the development of a single targeted youth funding programme to replace previous schemes.

The new Targeted Youth Funding Scheme has allocated €35.18 million for 2019 to provide out of school supports to young people in their local communities, to enable them to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve their full potential by strengthening their personal and social competencies. Young people aged 10 to 24 years of age who are described in the National Youth Strategy as marginalised, disadvantaged or vulnerable are the primary target group for services available through the new scheme.

The reform of youth services’ funding provides an opportunity to focus funding on young people most in need of intervention. 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. This mapping is assisting the Department and ETBs in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels.

The City of Dublin Education and Training Board, via its Youth Services Board, is currently involved in a detailed Area Profiling, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement process for the entire city with a view to making recommendations to my Department for youth service requirements from 2020 onwards. Part of that process will include the identification of areas where no DCYA funded services currently exist with a view to commissioning new services in those areas.

Any identified service requirement where no service currently funded by the Department exists must be met following a fair and transparent commissioning process to ensure that all service providers, existing or potential, have a fair and equitable opportunity to apply for funding. This Department cannot predict what needs will be identified within Dublin City in advance of the CDETB completing the aforementioned area profiling, needs assessment and service requirement process.

All of this is dependent on availability of budget in 2020.

Childcare Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (1663)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

1663. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason parents of children attending crèches (details supplied) were not informed of breaches and issues uncovered by Tusla; the steps she plans to take to ensure that in future Tusla informs parents in circumstances in which a company or individual faces criminal charges in respect of the care of their children; her plans to introduce mandatory reporting of crèches, breaches and issues to parents of children attending such crèches; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34968/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla as the independent statutory regulator of early years services has the power to inspect early years services and to carry out prosecutions in relation to breaches of regulations by early years services. In relation to child protection concerns, the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate also takes immediate action through referral to the social work function within Tusla. In relation to Tusla's ability to inform parents of breaches of regulations, Tusla is required to follow due process, including giving service providers the opportunity to take corrective action and to appeal against decision (including a legal right to appeal against deregistration decisions to the District Court), and must take considerable care to ensure that it does not - through the information it shares in public or with other parties- prejudice the outcome of ongoing regulatory or enforcement processes that are the subject of legal action. Tusla publishes its inspection reports on the Tusla website and these reports outline the outcome of regulatory or prosecutorial activity.

Tusla's powers were strengthened considerably in 2016, including being given the power to deregister a service without going through the courts and the power to attach conditions to a registration. At the end of July 2019 I wrote to the Chairperson of Tusla requesting his views on what additional powers Tusla might need, and he replied in recent weeks. Officials in my Department are currently examining his proposals, which will require amendment of primary legislation as well as of the Early Years Services Regulations. The powers my Department is examining include potential ways to share more information at an earlier stage with parents in relation to inspection findings, the registration status of services, and any enforcement actions being undertaken. In framing any legislative changes or regulatory reforms in this area, it will be necessary to balance parents' legitimate interest in being kept informed with the need for due process, particularly given the need to avoid undermining any legal actions that Tusla might be taking.

Early Childhood Care and Education Staff

Ceisteanna (1664)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1664. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on having a sectoral employment order established for the early childhood education and care sector; if she has discussed this issue with the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the necessary funding that would be required in due course as a result of the necessary increased costs that will arise once a sectoral employment order is approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The early learning and care sector has been identified as a sector in which low pay and poor working conditions for staff are common, which impacts on the quality of provision to children through its effect on the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. The lack of consistency of care resulting from high staff turnover levels impacts directly on quality, and low wages are a constraint on plans to upskill the workforce. My support for improved pay and conditions for early learning and care practitioners has been explicit, as their role is critical to supporting children’s development and delivering better child outcomes.

Over the past 4 budgets the level of public investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare services has increased by 117%. The level of investment needs to continue to rise if we are to offer services that are of high quality, affordable and accessible. However, increased investment by itself will not ensure that staff wages and conditions will improve.

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care settings, and I cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for these staff.

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.

Under the terms of industrial relations legislation, for the process of establishing a Sectoral Employment Order to commence, the body or bodies commencing the process must be "substantially representative" of either the workers or the employers in the sector. It is not yet clear at what point any organisation representing workers or employers in this sector will reach a membership level that the Labour Court accepts as substantially representative. Nor is it yet clear what the decision of the Labour Court might be, or what the implications of any such decision might be for the cost of public funding schemes in a context where the State is not the employer. However, I can assure the Deputy that my Department will readily co-operate with a Sectoral Employment Order process when it is under way.

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 for service providers to offer staff 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, which contains a commitment to develop a Workforce Development Plan which will ensure appropriate levels of early learning and care and school-age childcare staff at all levels in the sector, will achieve a graduate-led workforce by 2028, and raise the profile of careers in the sector. I have put the Steering Group in place to lead this work.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is aware of my commitment to addressing not only access and affordability, but also quality and the importance of a valued workforce in that regard and he has been very supportive to date with my endeavours.

Childcare Services Administration

Ceisteanna (1665)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1665. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 10 July 2019 and her letter of 29 July 2019, the criteria upon which Tusla and the HSE can grant the extra hours; the limits there are when granting such hours in relation to the proposed national childcare scheme; and the limits when granting such hours. [35062/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Childcare Support Act 2018 makes provision for specific statutory bodies including Tusla and the HSE to access childcare to support vulnerable children and families and for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to enter into formal agreements with the various bodies for these purposes. Engagement is ongoing between my officials and each of the bodies in relation to the terms of agreements under which vulnerable children will be referred to the scheme having regard to the provisions of the Act. The terms of each agreement will include such matters as the qualifying criteria and the hours, including the limits on hours for which children may be referred. Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the families will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy any income test. The statutory body will determine the hours for which a child is referred under a sponsor agreement, based on the needs of the family, subject to the limit set out in the agreement between the Minister and each sponsor body. Engagement with each of the sponsor bodies is very advanced and is progressing well. Agreements will be in place with each of the bodies before the launch of the National Childcare Scheme.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (1666)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1666. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of extending the AIM scheme to support preschool aged children attending full day care. [35101/19]

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 early learning and care practitioners to deliver an inclusive preschool experience, ensuring that every eligible child can meaningfully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.

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 preschool setting they are attending. AIM is administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

AIM is already available to children attending full-day care settings, but only for the hours during which they are taking part in the ECCE programme. AIM is intrinsically linked to the parameters provided by the ECCE programme in that AIM is available only to those who are eligible for and participating on the ECCE programme for the duration of the ECCE programme i.e. 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, 38 weeks of the year, over a 2-year period.

Extending AIM to all pre-school children in full day care could involve extending AIM to children younger than the minimum age for ECCE of 2 years 8 months, and it is not known what proportion of younger children would require AIM supports.

Even if an extension of AIM to full day care were limited to those children who are already eligible for ECCE and already availing of AIM supports, it is not known what proportion of these children would make use of provision beyond the 15 free hours per week provided by ECCE and the 38 weeks of the year in which ECCE is currently available.

The primary cost of extending AIM would be the cost of Level 7 AIM support, which is provided to enable the early learning and care setting to either (a) reduce the adult-to-child ratio, or (b) acquire additional staff resources for the preschool room. The Level 7 payment is currently set at €195 per week based on highly complex needs for a 15-hour week. The cost of AIM Level 7 in the programme year 2018-19 was approximately €19m. In its simplest possible extrapolation, assuming that all children benefitting from 3 hours of support per day were instead to benefit from 8 hours of support per day, the cost of Level 7 would rise by €32m to €51m per year. If provision were also extended to year-round support, the cost might rise a further €19m to €70m, on a 52-week basis. However, it is unlikely that all children currently availing of AIM supports would attend 8 hours per day or 52 weeks per year, and furthermore many services that provide ECCE and AIM do not offer full day care.

It must also be noted that Level 7 would not be the only additional cost required to provide an extension of AIM to preschool children attending full day care. In particular, the increased capitation paid in respect of qualified Inclusion Coordinators (€2 per child per ECCE week) might rise. In addition, the cost of other elements of AIM, such as equipment, might also rise. It is therefore difficult to establish reliable estimates of costs associated with extending AIM to full day care provision.

Nevertheless, the Government has committed in First 5 to consider enhancements to and/or extension of AIM. In the coming months my Department will initiate the end-of-year-three evaluation of AIM, which will provide important data to inform consideration of future extensions.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (1667)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1667. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of extending the AIM scheme to support school aged children attending full day care. [35102/19]

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) preschool 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 years care and education.

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.

AIM supports are currently provided based on the needs of the child and the preschool setting, and a clinical assessment is not required. AIM supports that are provided are deemed essential to enable the child’s meaningful participation in their ECCE Programme.

As AIM is currently designed to support children to access the ECCE programme, children availing of AIM must comply with the age requirement of this programme, which is 2 years and 8 months to 5 years, and must not yet be attending school.

Estimating the cost of extending the AIM scheme to support school-aged children is not possible at this point in time, given the complexity of the task and the lack of data on important variables such as the number of children attending school-age childcare services who would require AIM supports and the proportion of school-age childcare settings in which additional support would be required. Furthermore, it has not yet been determined how the type of supports required for school-age children might differ from the type of supports required for pre-school children.

Nevertheless, the Government has committed in First 5 to consider enhancements to and/or extension of AIM, which might include extending AIM to school-age children, or to children with additional needs other than a disability. In the coming months my Department will initiate the end-of-year-three evaluation of AIM, which will provide important data to inform consideration of future extensions of AIM.

Childcare Services Administration

Ceisteanna (1668)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1668. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the rules for childcare providers in relation to deposits; and if it is permissible for childcare providers to hold two separate deposits, that is, one for the child’s ECCE place and one for the child’s place in a part-time private childcare place. [35103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As per the DCYA Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) funding programme rules, a service provider may charge a refundable booking deposit to hold an ECCE place for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to four weeks’ ECCE payment (€258). The totality of the ECCE deposit must be returned to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is approved on the Programme Implantation Platform (PIP).

The ECCE programme rules stipulate that if a service is holding a legacy deposit that exceeds €258 for a child (the equivalent of four weeks ECCE subvention) that has been attending that service prior to their commencement on ECCE, then depending on the level of ECCE service, the service must return up to €258 of that deposit to the parent/guardian once the child’s ECCE registration has been approved on PIP, regardless of when that deposit was collected. The rationale for this deposit rule is based on the premise that the DCYA will fund a service provider for up to four weeks if a child leaves without notice. Without the ECCE deposit rule, a service provider could financially benefit from a four week payment from the DCYA despite the fact they already have a private deposit safeguard in place.

The only other deposit stipulation is that a service provider's deposit policy must be clearly outlined in their fees list. If a service has any queries surrounding their fees list they should contact their local City/County Childcare Committee.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

Ceisteanna (1669)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1669. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when ECCE providers are notified of changes to the ECCE contracts; the mechanism through which this is done; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) funding agreement is published on the Pobal Programme Implementation Platform (PIP) a number of weeks before the launch of each programme year. There is ample time for service providers to review, seek clarification and sign the funding agreement before the start of the ECCE programme.

In the unlikely event that a change of circumstances necessitated an amendment to the ECCE Funding Agreement for e.g. due to a legislation or policy change, service providers would be informed through PIP and the amended funding agreement would be available to review.

My Department has no plans to amend the 2019/20 programme year ECCE funding agreement.

City and County Child Care Committees

Ceisteanna (1670)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1670. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that many county childcare committees have different interpretations of ECCE contractual requirements; and the steps she will take to address same. [35105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) funding agreement requirements are clearly outlined in both the programme rules and the funding agreement itself.

My Department is not aware of any discrepancies among City/County Childcare Committees in relation to this matter. If the Deputy has specific examples, I would urge her to please contact officials from my Department through eyqueries@dcya.gov.ie so that this matter can be investigated as a matter of urgency.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Ceisteanna (1671)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1671. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Deputy will be aware that it is not appropriate for me to comment on individual cases, nor to make a direction that may interfere in the decision-making and professional judgement of Tusla social work staff.

I can advise the Deputy that I have referred the matter to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for their appropriate attention.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (1672)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1672. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by her Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by her Department over the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Department of Health provides ICT services to my Department under the terms of a Service Level Agreement. As part of this agreement DCYA's Lotus Notes infrastructure is furnished by the Department of Health, along with a block allocation of Notes' software licenses for staff. There is no expenditure associated with the receipt of this service.

As the Department transitions to the new Build to Share desktop service, provided by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, we shall cease to use IBM's Lotus Notes software, therefore there will no projected spend on said software over the next five years.

Early Childhood Care and Education Data

Ceisteanna (1673)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1673. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of increasing the ECCE capitation rates by €5, €10, €15, €20 and €25, respectively; and the estimated first and full-year cost of extending the duration of the ECCE year by 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks, respectively from September 2019 onwards in tabular form. [35424/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

€298.1m has been allocated to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme in 2019.

The following table outlines the projected cost in 2019 of increasing the standard and higher capitation rates for the programme by increments of €5 over and above current levels, up to a €25 increase. This costing is based on the increases occurring from September 2019.

Increase

Standard Capitation Rate

Higher Capitation Rate

Increase

€0.00

69

80.25

n/a

€5.00

74

85.25

€8.4m

€10.00

79

90.25

€16.8m

€15.00

84

95.25

€25.2m

€20.00

89

100.25

€33.6m

€25.00

94

105.25

€42.0m

The following table outlines the projected full year cost in 2019 of increasing the standard and higher capitation rates for the scheme by increments of €5 over and above current levels, up to a €25 increase. This costing is based on the increases occurring from January 2019.

Increase

Standard Capitation Rate

Higher Capitation Rate

Full Year Cost

Increase

€0.00

€69.00

€80.25

€298.1m

n/a

€5.00

€74.00

€85.25

€318.1m

€20.0m

€10.00

€79.00

€90.25

€338.0m

€39.9m

€15.00

€84.00

€95.25

€358.0m

€59.9m

€20.00

€89.00

€100.25

€378.0m

€79.9m

€25.00

€94.00

€105.25

€398.0m

€99.9m

The below table outlines the projected full year cost in 2019 of increasing the standard and higher capitation rates for the scheme by increments of 2 weeks over and above current levels, up to a 12 week increase.

The ECCE programme occurs on the basis of a Programme Year. ECCE provision is therefore currently split, with 16 weeks of provision over September to December, and 22 weeks of provision over January to June in the following calendar year. Due to fixed holidays between September and December in 2019 the additional weeks would have to be added in the first half of 2020. Increasing the ECCE programme weeks would therefore have no year one (2019) costs.

Increase

Standard Capitation Rate

Higher Capitation Rate

Full Year Cost

Increase in 2020

0 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€298.1m

n/a

2 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€313.8m

€15.7m

4 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€329.5m

€31.4m

6 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€360.9m

€62.8m

8 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€376.5m

€78.4m

10 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€392.2m

€94.1m

12 weeks

€69.00

€80.25

€407.9m

€109.8m

School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (1674)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1674. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated first and full-year cost of restoring the school completion programme to peak levels of funding. [35425/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The full-year cost of restoring the SCP to peak funding levels would be in the region of €7.3 million per annum.

School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (1675)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1675. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of school completion programmes in operation nationally; the number of children availing of such programmes; and the breakdown of such programmes by county in tabular form. [35426/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

There are 124 School Completion Programmes nationally providing interventions to 69,775 children and young people to support attendance, participation and retention across School Completion Programme cluster schools.

The number of School Completion Programmes broken down by county is set out in the following table.

County

No of SCP’s

Carlow

2

Cavan

1

Clare

2

Cork

11

Donegal

5

Dublin

47

Galway

5

Kerry

2

Kildare

4

Kilkenny

1

Laois

1

Limerick

7

Longford

1

Louth

5

Mayo

2

Meath

2

Monaghan

3

Offaly

2

Roscommon

1

Sligo

1

Tipperary

5

Waterford

3

Westmeath

2

Wexford

5

Wicklow

4

School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (1676)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1676. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of school completion programmes that were in operation nationally in 2009; the number of children availing of such programmes in 2009; and the breakdown of such programmes by county in tabular form. [35427/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

There are 124 School Completion Programmes nationally providing interventions to 69,775 children and young people to support attendance, participation and retention across School Completion Programme cluster schools.

The number of School Completion Programmes broken down by county is set out in the following table.

County

No of SCPs

Carlow

2

Cavan

1

Clare

2

Cork

11

Donegal

5

Dublin

47

Galway

5

Kerry

2

Kildare

4

Kilkenny

1

Laois

1

Limerick

7

Longford

1

Louth

5

Mayo

2

Meath

2

Monaghan

3

Offaly

2

Roscommon

1

Sligo

1

Tipperary

5

Waterford

3

Westmeath

2

Wexford

5

Wicklow

4

School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (1677)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1677. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of staff employed in the school completion programme on a full-time, part-time and sessional basis to date in 2019; the number employed in 2009, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35428/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The School Completion Programme is a core programme under the DEIS programme and is one of three service strands under Tusla’s Educational Welfare Services (EWS) providing direct interventions to children and young people. Each year since the programme transferred to Tusla in 2014, €24.7m in funding has been allocated to the School Completion Programme projects nationally. There are 124 SCPs currently operating nationally.

The following table sets out the number of staff employed in SCPs .Figures are based on the most recent plans submitted by the 124 SCP’s.

Number of SCP Staff

Full-time

Part-time

Sessional

219

195

1191

Family Resource Centres

Ceisteanna (1678)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1678. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of ensuring each family resource centre has three full-time equivalent staff members. [35429/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is responsible for the administration of the Family Resource Centre Programme.

I have allocated an additional €4.5m in funding for the Family Resource Centre Programme between 2018 and 2019. This allowed for increases in core funding for each centre, as well as the establishment of 11 new FRCs last year, bringing the total number of FRCs funded under the Programme to 121.

Each individual FRC has a Voluntary Board of Management, which is responsible for the recruitment of its employees and the terms and conditions under which they are employed.

As the Deputy's question refers to an operational matter for Tusla, I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy.

Family Resource Centres

Ceisteanna (1679)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1679. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of family resource centres in operation in 2008; and the amount of funding provided to each family resource centre in 2008, in tabular form. [35430/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In 2008, funding to the Family Resource Centre (FRC) Programme was provided by the Family Support Agency (FSA), which was under the aegis of the former Department of Social and Family Affairs. Responsibility for the FSA transferred to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2010 and then to my Department when it was established in 2011. The FSA was dissolved in 2014, and its constituent programmes, including the FRC Programme, were transferred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency in 2014, under the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013.

The Deputy’s question refers to the operation of the FRC Programme in 2008, and the distribution of funding to individual centres. I have asked Tusla to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

Family Resource Centres

Ceisteanna (1680)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1680. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of family resource centres in operation to date in 2019; and the amount of funding provided to each family resource centre in 2019, in tabular form. [35431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

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

In Budget 2019, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs secured an increase of €1.5 million in funding for the FRC Programme. This brings the overall financial allocation for the Programme to €18 million.

This additional funding is being used to:

- Increase core funding to each of the 110 FRCs which existed pre-2018 by 5%.

- Employ an additional 17 Family Support Workers - one FRC in each of the 17 Tusla geographical areas will be allocated funding to employ a Family Support Worker.

- Fund the Family Resource Centre Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Programme.

I can confirm that there are 121 Family Resource Centres in operation to date in 2019.

The allocation of funding to individual Family Resource Centres is an operational matter for Tusla. I have requested Tusla to provide the Deputy with the requested information directly.

Family Support Services

Ceisteanna (1681)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1681. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of hiring an additional family support worker. [35432/19]

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 Funding

Ceisteanna (1682)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1682. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the full amount of funding provided to Tusla in 2019. [35433/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency receives annual funding from the Exchequer under my Department's Vote (Vote 40). The net core budgetary allocation to Tusla in 2019 is €767.348m. This includes a budget allocation of €17.194m for capital spending.

An additional €3.0m was separately allocated to Tusla this year to Family Resource Centres (1.5m) and to Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services (€1.5m).

Tusla also receives budgetary allocations from other areas of my Department’s Vote, including Early Years Pre-School Inspectorate, Children and Young People’s Services Committees, What Works (formerly Quality and Capacity Building Initiative), The Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme, and Tusla’s Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme. The funding allocated to these areas in 2019 is as follows:

Early Years Pre-School Inspectorate: €4.356m

Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC) €1.686m

What Works (Formerly QCBI) €0.615m

Area-Based Childhood (ABC) Programme €8.2m

Prevention, Partnership & Family Support (PPFS) Programme €1.3m

Currently, the total funding being provided to Tusla from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2019 for all areas of expenditure is €786.505m.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (1683)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

1683. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated full-year cost of providing the 2019 living wage to each member of staff within her Department and within agencies under the aegis of her Department. [35434/19]

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. Details of the application of adjustments to civil service pay in accordance with the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 are available on www.circulars.gov.ie.

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.

Childcare Services Staff

Ceisteanna (1684)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

1684. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to phase in the Mercer scale in the early childhood education and care sector to bring all employees up to the living wage level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35513/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The early learning and care sector has been identified as a sector in which low pay and poor working conditions for staff are common, which impacts on the quality of provision through its effect on the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. The lack of consistency of care together with high staff turnover impact directly on quality, while low wages are a constraint on plans to upskill the workforce. My support for improved pay and conditions for early learning and care professionals has been explicit, as their role is critical to supporting children’s development.

Over the past 4 budgets the level of public investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare services has increased 117%, and the level of investment needs to continue rising if we are to secure services that are of high quality, affordable and accessible. However, increased investment by itself will not ensure that staff wages and conditions will improve.

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care settings, and I cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for these staff.

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 under way.

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 for service providers to offer staff 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, which contains a commitment to develop a Workforce Development Plan which will ensure appropriate levels of early learning and care and school-age childcare staff at all levels in the sector. The Workforce Development Plan will establish role profiles, career pathways, qualifications requirements, and associated policy mechanisms. It will set out plans to raise the profile of careers in the sector, establishing a career framework and leadership development opportunities, and it will work towards a more gender-balanced and diverse workforce. 

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

Ceisteanna (1685)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

1685. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to reform the funding model for early childhood education and care in order to reflect a more a service-led model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35514/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families (2019-2028), was published in November 2018. First 5 identifies over 150 actions across the domains that impact on young children’s lives including ambitious and far reaching actions related to the Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare sector.

First 5 commits to at least doubling investment in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare by 2028 and a key vehicle to ensure that such significant additional investment delivers for children, families and the State will be a new Funding Model.

The intention with the new Funding Model is to design mechanisms to deliver additional funding to Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare providers to ensure greater levels of affordability, quality and inclusion in their services. It is planned that the new Funding Model will operate in addition to the major funding streams for the universal pre-school Early Childhood Care and Education programme and the National Childcare Scheme when it comes into operation later this year.

In order to lead the development of the Funding Model, I am appointing an Expert Group with expertise in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare systems, funding, and quality, as well as those with skills in economics and policy development. This Group will be asked to agree principles to underpin the new Model in consultation with stakeholders, identify and consider options on how additional funding for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare can be structured to deliver on policy objectives, and design a new Model to recommend to Government.

A Research Partnership will support the Expert Group with evidence and analysis as well as engagement and consultation work. The Request for Tender for this project has recently been published. The Expert Group will hold its first meeting next month, beginning a complex project that is likely to take some time to bring to fruition. Further updates will be available as the work progresses in the coming months.

The new Funding Model will be a key vehicle to achieve the vision of Early Learning and Care services that are equipped to provide high-quality, graduate-led services for children, affordability to parents and sustainability for providers and that Early Learning and Care services that operate in the context of disadvantage will receive extra support to provide additional services to families.

I am committed to improving the quality of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services which is at the core of the development of a new Funding Model.