Thursday, 5 December 2019

Ceisteanna (346)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

346. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of persons employed on an agency basis in her Department and in each agency under her aegis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has not hired or engaged agency staff in the past five years to date.

As the Deputy is aware, there are four agencies within my remit and I wish to advise as follows:

- The Office of the Ombudsman for Children is independent in its function and reports to the Oireachtas on matters within its remit, as required by the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. I have forwarded the question to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and asked that they might correspond with you directly in this matter.

- Tusla has confirmed to me that 650 agency staff were employed as at 31 October, 2019;

- Oberstown Children Detention Campus has informed me that 7 agency staff were employed as at 31 October, 2019;

- The Adoption Authority of Ireland does not engage agency staff.

Given the nature of the services provided by Tusla- Child and Family Agency and Oberstown Children Detention Campus, it is accepted that agency staff will always be required to ensure both agencies can continue to provide their services to vulnerable children and their families.

It is proposed that a once off extensive agency conversion be carried out. The grades that will be considered include social work, social care, family support and admin staff supporting frontline and operational teams.

The benefits of this initiative to Tusla are:

1. Continuity of care through workforce stabilisation with greater possibility of standardisation of approach and consistency in service delivery particularly in relation to maintaining long term relationships with children and families.

2. Cost saving – reduction in the overall agency cost incurred.

Converting to a Tusla employee will provide the agency worker with the security of position for the duration of the contract. Agency staff will be offered the same terms & conditions as Tusla staff as is their current status with the external agency in terms of salary, annual leave and standard weekly hours. However, as a Tusla employee and a public servant they would have the added benefit of public service entitlements in terms of employee schemes, flexible working arrangements as well as having access to the public service sick leave scheme, and maternity benefit the terms of which are not available to current agency status.

As at the 31/10/2019 the details of Agency staff are as follows:

Grade Group

Agency

Social Work

220

Social Care

214

Psychologists & Counsellors

2

Other Support Staff inc Catering

2

Other Health Professionals

1

Management VIII+

3

Family Support

20

Admin Grades

188

Grand Total

650

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A