Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (272)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

272. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the sports capital programme 2020 or 2021 will allow professional football clubs to apply for regional level funding for the development of new stands at football stadiums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42721/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) provides grants to assist in the development or refurbishment of sports facilities and the provision of sports equipment. The programme is open to applications from sports clubs, voluntary and community groups, national governing bodies of sport, and local authorities.  It should be noted that viewing stands are not usually covered under the SCP. The full terms and conditions of the Programme are available on the Department's website.  

The National Sports Policy which was published last year provided for the establishment of a new Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF).  The aim of the fund is to provide support for larger sports facilities (including sports stadia) where the Exchequer investment is greater than the maximum amount available under the SCP. The Government has provided a capital allocation of at least €100m for the period to 2027 for the LSSIF. The new scheme closed for applications on the 17th April with applications initially confined to local authorities and National Governing Bodies of sport. By the closing date, 72 applications were received. Details of all applications received have been published on the Department's website along with the evaluation procedures and guidelines.  Assessment work is underway and the first allocation are expected by the end of the year.  After allocations are made under the current round, a decision will be taken on the timing of the next call for applications.

Sports Funding

Question No. 274 answered with Question No. 268.

Ceisteanna (273)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

273. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be granted to a local authority (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42729/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April.

72 applications were received in total including one application from Cavan County Council. Details of all applications received have been published on the Department's website along with the evaluation procedures and guidelines. 

Assessment work is continuing in the Department but in view of the detailed information contained in each application, it will take a number of months to have all of this work complete.  Accordingly, I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before any allocations are announced.

Question No. 274 answered with Question No. 268.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (275, 276)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

275. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the tendering process for the Macroom bypass project; and the date by which this contract will be awarded. [42739/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

276. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the type of tendering process that is being used to select a bidder for the Macroom bypass project; and the stages involved in this type of tendering process. [42740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 275 and 276 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design, procurement and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Ceisteanna (277)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

277. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the NDLS can reissue a driver licence to a person in a situation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Ireland has a driving licence exchange agreement in place with British Columbia, Canada since August 2017. This Agreement allows for the exchange of a valid driver's licence between the two jurisdictions. A valid licence means at the time of exchanging, the driver’s licence being exchanged:

- is not revoked, suspended, withdrawn, disqualified or cancelled by the Jurisdiction or the authority acting on behalf of the Jurisdiction that issued the driver’s licence;

- the licence is not subject to any kind of restriction or prohibition which results in the driver’s licence being unable to be used for the purpose for which it was intended by the holder thereof; and,

- is not, in the case of an Ireland licence, expired for more than 3 years at the time of exchange, or in the case of a British Columbia licence, expired for more than 12 months at the time of exchange.

As Minister I cannot intervene in individual cases, nor do I have access to the relevant information relating to specific situations.

Airport Policy

Ceisteanna (278, 279, 280)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

278. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met with the management of Shannon Airport recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

279. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met with the DAA recently; if so, if passenger numbers in Shannon and Cork airports were discussed; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42841/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

280. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the latest passenger figures for Shannon Airport; his views on same; his plans to increase passenger numbers to and from Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 to 280, inclusive, together.

I would like to thank the Deputy for his questions in relation to meetings with daa and Shannon Airport Authority and passenger numbers at Shannon and Cork Airports.

I can confirm to the Deputy that during the course of the year I have met with the management of Shannon Group, a commerical State company which, as you will be aware, has statutory responsibility for Shannon Airport.  I have also met with the Shannon Group Chairman, Ms. Rose Hynes and also in recent months with the Chairman of the daa.  These meetings are in addition to the many meetings that happen on a regular basis between my officials and management at daa and Shannon Group.

The Deputy will also be aware that daa and Shannon Group have statutory responsibility for the operation, management and development of our three State Airports and as such passenger numbers at Shannon and Cork Airports are operational matters for Shannon Group and daa respectively.

In relation to passenger numbers at Cork Airport, I am aware that the position is positive with some 2.4 million passengers using the Airport in 2018.  This represented a 4% increase in passengers on 2017, making it the third consecutive year of growth at the Airport.  I understand the outlook for this year is also very positive with passenger numbers continuing to grow.  This growth is attributable to a number of factors including, the expansion of capacity on existing routes and the addition of new routes to the airport’s existing route network with over 50 routes now on offer along with multiple long-haul options through key international hubs across Europe.  Unfortunately, with the unexpected grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, transatlantic services are currently not available from Cork Airport.

The position in relation to Shannon Airport is that between 2013 and 2018 it grew passenger numbers by some 34%. As part of that growth, 13 new services were successfully secured with Norwegian Air International and Air Canada, both of which used Boeing 737 MAX jet aircraft. Unfortunately, the grounding earlier this year of the Boeing 737 MAX jet aircraft has disproportionally affected Shannon Airport. Separately, and without warning, Kuwait Airlines announced in January last the immediate cessation of its daily trans-atlantic service via Shannon Airport.

I understand that these developments, which are totally outside the control of Shannon Group, will result in a fall in passenger numbers for Shannon Airport for the first time in six years.  However, I am aware that Airport management are very focussed on addressing these challenges and are in constant discussion with numerous airlines with a view to providing additional flights from Shannon Airport.  The decision to operate a specific air route is however an operational matter for airlines themselves, in consultation with airport authorities. 

Finally, in 2019, additional funding was made available to Tourism Ireland for its Regional Cooperative Marketing Fund, bringing the total allocation to €1.25 million. This fund seeks to encourage new access and maximise the potential of existing services to the Regions.  It is supported by contributions from regional tourism stakeholders (airports and ports) and matched by air and sea carriers.  This resulted in total cooperative marketing expenditure overseas of €2.5m in 2017 and €2.65m in 2018.  As recently announced following Budget 2020, funding for this Scheme is being increased further to €2.5m in 2020.  I would encourage all regional airports, including Shannon Airport and Cork Airport to continue to avail of this funding to optimise air services and increase connectivity to the regions for passengers.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (281)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

281. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42875/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. 

I also have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. 

 Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days from the National Transport Authority (NTA) or Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (282)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

282. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42891/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Project Ireland 2040 Capital Tracker published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform provides details of infrastructure projects, indicative allocations, current status, project commencement dates and proposed completion dates. It is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6db7c4-investment-projects-and-programmes-tracker/  

The individual projects and programmes are subject to compliance with the Public Spending Code, including its requirements in relation to appraisal and Sanctioning Authority approval points.

Childcare Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (283, 284, 285)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

283. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the considerable inconvenience that has been caused to parents by the closure of a facility (details supplied). [42664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

284. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if additional supports are being offered to parents affected by the closure of a facility (details supplied). [42665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

285. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason for the closure of a facility (details supplied). [42666/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 283 to 285, inclusive, together.

Tusla is the independent statutory regulator of early learning and care and school age childcare services in Ireland. In performing its regulatory function, its actions include responding to breaches of regulations while respecting fair procedures and natural justice.

Tusla conducted an inspection of the service in question - which catered for both pre-school and school-age children - in line with the requirements of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 in June 2019. During this inspection it was observed that the service, which was approved for a set number of children, was operating outside its registration status, with a substantial number of additional children observed in attendance. Tusla advised the service to revert immediately to its approved registration status, and to take immediate remedial action to address the risk posed to children on the premises due to inadequate insurance. Tusla also referred the service to the local Chief Fire Officer and to the Planning and Enforcement Section of the local Council.

Tusla carried out a follow-up inspection of the service in September 2019, and found that more children  were attending the service than were approved. Tusla again instructed the service to revert to its approved registration status.

Tusla also received an application from the registered provider for registration of a school-age service which highlighted that the service has been operating in contravention of its planning permission, which states that the number of children to be accommodated at the facility must not exceed a certain amount.  This has resulted in the regrettable situation described.

While I appreciate the considerable inconvenience that you reference,  the safety and welfare of children is my foremost priority.  Services must abide by the legislation that is in place to protect our children.

Tusla continues to engage with the registered provider to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible.

30 City and Childcare Committees across the country are available to support parents and providers with issues relating to early learning and care and school age childcare. In this instance, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Childcare Committee is available to support parents who need assistance with sourcing alternative service provision and they have been working with local providers to ascertain availability of places, and with new services in the area who intend to create additional places.  

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (286)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

286. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been brought to plans to sell a site (details supplied) in County Cork; the services currently provided at the centre funded by her Department or an agency under her aegis such as Tusla; the amount of annual funding; if her Department has been notified of the planned closure of any of the services at the centre; if so, the alternative plans she will put in place to ensure services continue and that the staff continue to be employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I have received representations from public representatives and members of the public, outlining concerns in relation to the proposed sale of the site to which the Deputy refers.

I understand the centre located on the site to which the Deputy refers is in receipt of funding from a number of public bodies. Tusla provides funding to family and community services provided by the centre located on site. Separately, Tusla leases temporary accommodation for Tusla Cork-based child and family services staff. 

In 2018, the centre in question received funding of €201,000 from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to run a range of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) programmes.

The Centre currently runs the following ELC and SAC programmes:

- the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme,

- the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM),

- the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) programme,

- the Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes.

Cork City Childcare Committee and Pobal are currently engaging with the service in question in relation to the proposed sale of the site. Cork City Childcare Committee and Pobal are available to provide support to the service as and when required.

In 2018, the centre in question also received funding of €1.5 million from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to provide a range of child and family services.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to operational matters regarding any plans to close child and family services on this site, and alternative arrangements, which may need to be put in place for services and staff should the services close.

I also understand that the Health Service Executive provides Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) on the site.

National Childcare Scheme

Ceisteanna (287)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

287. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date by which the information and communications system needed to operate the national childcare scheme will become operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42692/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The National Childcare Scheme is a key pathway to quality, accessible, affordable childcare in Ireland. It represents a landmark for parents, underpinned by an innovative IT system, and offering the option of paperless, automated assessment.  We know parents have a lot on their plate, so we are designing an application process that will be as safe, speedy and stress-free as possible.  This means that we have to develop 30,000 different applicant circumstances and choices through the system, to cater for all possible variations.

The IT system is built and is being piloted at present.  The objective of any pilot is to identify potential issues or “snags”, and to support readiness for full launch. The pilot has been highly valuable in this regard, allowing us to identify and address a number of issues.  Last week I signalled that a minor snag had been identified which blocked a small number of applications from proceeding through the system.  This has required additional time to address the issue and retest the system.  This means that the Scheme should now open for applications in November.  Subsidy payments, as previously advised, should still flow from November.

In the meantime, the pilot will continue and we will also enable providers to complete programme readiness activities in advance of the full launch.  

With regard to a specific date for full launch, the Project Board overseeing the Scheme will meet this week and hopes to recommend a new date at that time.

Allowing these extra few weeks before launching the National Childcare Scheme is the right thing to do.  Parents and providers deserve a robust system and a positive user experience.  It is too important for families for us not to deliver the best possible Scheme and system.

Childcare Education and Training Scheme

Ceisteanna (288)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

288. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a person who would have been eligible for old childcare subvention schemes such as the CETS scheme but did not enrol in advance of 2019 will still be able to enrol for the CETS scheme and level of funding; and if this parent is only eligible for the national childcare scheme rate of subsidy. [42693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Childcare Education and Training Support programme (CETS)  which is a part of the overarching Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programme will remain open for new registrations until February 2020 to facilitate certain modular education and training courses' registration requirements. The exact date will be communicated to all childcare providers closer to the time.

The Childcare Support Act 2018 provides for a transition period during which  parents can choose to continue to receive (subject to certain conditions) the same hours and level of financial support they would have received under the previous legacy schemes.  To this end, the legacy schemes will continue for the 19/20 programme year and extend fully  into the  20/21 programme year, running in parallel with the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). Therefore, all those registered and in receipt of a subsidy under the TEC scheme prior to February 2020, will be entitled to retain that subsidy.  

While most of those benefiting from legacy schemes will see their level of subsidy rise under the NCS, persons registered on TEC before February 2020, have the option to either move to the NCS or remain on the TEC scheme for the duration of their eligibility. Information re what subsidy a parent may be eligible to receive under the NCS is available from the NCS Parent Information Line at 01 9068530.

Child Abuse

Ceisteanna (289, 290)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

289. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of unsolicited complaints of child abuse made to an organisation (details supplied) between January 2018 and to date in 2019; if such complaints related to historical cases or present day; if Tusla was informed of each complaint; the way in which such complaints were managed; if this process was within the bounds of child safeguarding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

290. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of unsolicited complaints of child abuse an organisation (details supplied) passed on to Tusla between January 2018 and to date in 2019; if the relevant officials in Tusla have investigated such complaints to decide if they are deemed founded or unfounded; the number of complaints passed on to An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42718/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 289 and 290 together.

My Department is expecting a progress report from Scouting Ireland on 30 October 2019 and are planning to have a meeting with officials from Scouting Ireland in November 2019 to discuss same (date to be confirmed).  The report will include an update on all aspects of governance and safeguarding, including relevant figures and reporting practice as per the Deputy's questions.

As per previous practice (https://www.scouts.ie//News/2019/Scouting-Ireland-Report-to-DCYA-March-2019.pdf) this report will be made publicly available by Scouting Ireland once it has been considered by my Department.

Child Abuse

Ceisteanna (291)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

291. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if an allegation of historical child sex abuse has been deemed founded by Tusla, if it is then referred to An Garda Síochána and the DPP for further investigation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

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

National Childcare Scheme

Ceisteanna (292)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

292. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 690 of 9 July 2019, the status of her plans to publish the details of these agreements in view of the significant delays that have been encountered and the serious negative impact the lack of clarity is having on those who will be administering the schemes; the timeline for the completion of the sponsorship agreements in advance of the roll-out of the national childcare scheme; the status of the training for front-line staff who will be involved in the administration of the sponsorship schemes; if detailed qualifying criteria have been agreed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42736/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Childcare Support Act 2018 makes provision for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to enter into formal agreements with specific statutory bodies ("sponsor bodies") for the purposes of referring vulnerable children and families to the National Childcare Scheme.  Engagement is progressing well 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.  The terms of each agreement will include such matters as the qualifying criteria under which children will be referred.

Engagement is very advanced and it is anticipated that signed agreements will be in place with each of the bodies before the launch of the National Childcare Scheme in the coming weeks.  Each body has its own internal mechanisms through which the agreement must be progressed before it can be signed by the relevant authorised person within each body. The criteria for referral and other relevant information specific to each agreement will be published once the agreements are signed in due course.    

Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the families will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy any income test. 

Training will be provided for frontline staff who will be involved in the referral of vulnerable children to the National Childcare Scheme under the sponsor agreements. Preparation is underway for detailed and comprehensive training sessions, tailored specifically for staff in the various sponsor bodies.  The training programme will commence in the coming weeks and builds on the training approach used in separate phases of the project to date which has been received very positively by its target group. 

Finally, it may be noted that sponsor agreements under the National Childcare Scheme are not intended to come into effect until after the Scheme launches in November.  In the interim, the existing arrangements under the current targeted childcare subsidy schemes remain in place.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (293)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

293. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide all correspondence to or from her Department with Pobal to date in 2019. [42785/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Pobal administers a significant number of schemes and programmes for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and there is almost daily interaction between the two bodies, involving correspondence to and from several officials of my Department.  The correspondence would arise, for example, in relation to the development of the new National Childcare Scheme, the operation of the existing childcare schemes such as ECCE, AIM, CCS, TEC, the operation of the Better Start Quality Development Service, and a range of other operational matters connected with Pobal's work for my Department. These include a significant compliance regime, the administration of annual Programme Support Payments, a continuous professional development scheme, a learner fund for up-skilling the workforce and annual capital schemes. Correspondence would also relate to the governance of Pobal, agreements relating to the annual programmes of work, individual service offers and funding.

Taking account of the volume of correspondence involved, it would not be possible for my Department to provide the information requested within the timescale available, and the correspondence would be voluminous.  However, I am anxious to assist the Deputy in his query to the greatest extent feasible.  If the Deputy could narrow his request for correspondence into specific areas, topics, or dates, my officials would then endeavour to assist him as much as possible.  I would note, of course, that the timescale for responding in full to his request will depend on the volume of correspondence that he is seeking.

Childcare Services Funding

Ceisteanna (294)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

294. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when a community childcare centre (details supplied) will receive its AIM payment due for two staff members; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In order for a service to receive funding for AIM Level 7 support, an application must be received and approved on the Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP). Payments are then issued to Services at set intervals during the year. The first payment for the 2019-20 ECCE programme year was 13th September with a subsequent payment due on 18th October. To have received payment on 13 September, settings must have had all active and approved childcare registrations on the PIP system by close of business on 4th September 2019.  This requirement was published on PIP on the 28th August 2019.

For the service in question, it has been confirmed that all four children are now active and approved for AIM Level 7 support in this setting, but their registration dates on the system were between the 13th and 18th September 2019, i.e. after the 4th September initial deadline. Therefore, this service will be paid 37.5% of their total funding awarded on 18th October.  Going forward all remaining payments will align with the published AIM Level 7 payment schedule.

School Attendance Data

Ceisteanna (295)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

295. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her responsibilities with regard to the mandatory school age. [42824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 defines a child as a person resident in the state who has reached the age of 6 years and who has not reached the age of 16 years or who has not yet completed 3 years of post-primary education. This Act also established the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) and tasked it with implementing the provisions of this Act.

Responsibility for the 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, it took on the functions of the former NEWB: chiefly the Educational 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 statutory Education Welfare Service encompasses all recognised schools in the State. The abovementioned legislation mandates that children should be in school from ages 6 to 16 unless they are on the Section 14 register as being home educated or attending an independent school. Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) work with children and young people who are experiencing difficulties with school attendance. EWOs aim to ensure that concerns and problems around attendance are addressed before issues escalate. In doing so, EWOs seek to find solutions within a collaborative intervention framework involving children, their families, schools and other relevant agencies.

The Act also allows the EWS to prosecute a family in relation to school attendance issues should the family of a child not engage after being referred to Tusla after 20 days non attendance at school. Every effort is made to ensure the child is in receipt of his or her constitutional right to an education prior to legal proceedings being initiated.

The School Attendance Notice is a final legal notice stating that legal proceedings may be initiated if the family is not in compliance with the notice and the child does not attend school on each school day that the notice is in force. Should the child attend school on each school day that the notice is in force, legal proceedings will not be initiated.

Child and Family Agency Funding

Ceisteanna (296)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

296. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the breakdown of the increased allocation of funding provided to Tusla for 2020; if this increase will be reflected in funding dispersed to community and voluntary organisations funded under section 56 of the Child and Family Agency Act 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42836/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Following Budget 2020, I am pleased to announce that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency's funding allocation will be €814m next year, an increase 4% on 2019. This underlines my commitment to supporting Tusla, as Ireland's first dedicated State agency for the protection and welfare of children.

This funding will:

- meet increasing demand for existing services and continue to improve overall service performance,

- continue the progress made to reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker, and

- address significant cost pressures being experienced in residential care.  

Arising from Budget 2020, I will shortly be issuing Tusla with its Performance Statement for 2020 in line with the provisions of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013. Tusla will, in response to the Performance Statement, prepare a Business Plan for 2020 which will be submitted to me for consideration.

The precise level of funding to be allocated to community and voluntary organisations will be considered by Tusla, in preparing its Business Plan, having regard to the overall level of funding available in 2020, which will exceed €800m.