Header Item Written Answers Nos. 593 - 613
   Header Item Child Care Costs
   Header Item Youth Work Projects Funding
   Header Item Departmental Funding
   Header Item Youth Services
   Header Item Children Services Committees
   Header Item Youth Services
   Header Item National Lottery Funding Disbursement
   Header Item Constitutional Amendment on Children
   Header Item Child Detention Centres
   Header Item Abortion Services
   Header Item Children in Care
   Header Item Children in Care
   Header Item Child Care Services Provision
   Header Item Departmental Reports
   Header Item Preschool Services
   Header Item Proposed Legislation
   Header Item Home Help Service Issues
   Header Item Accident and Emergency Services Provision
   Header Item Hospital Staff
   Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

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Written Answers Nos. 593 - 613

Child Care Costs

 593. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the varying levels of fees being charged by different creches to parents with children in the community childcare subvention programme; the steps she will take to ensure that charges are not a barrier to parents with low incomes availing of childcare under this programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25132/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme provides funding to community childcare not-for-profit services to enable them to charge reduced childcare rates to parents in receipt of social welfare payments or on low or modest incomes. The CCS programme, which is provided through more than 900 community services throughout the country, is a major support programme for parents. Approximately 19,500 families are availing of the CCS programme in the current school year at an estimated cost of €50 million.

Community childcare services qualify for grant aid on the basis of the level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. For the purpose of the CCS programme, eligibility is determined by reference to a range of means-tested allowances and payments including receipt of a social welfare payment, Family Income Supplement (FIS) and qualification for a medical or GP visit card. Eligibility for a GP visit card is based on net income and takes account of outgoings such as rent and mortgage repayments and other expenses including childcare costs and travelling expenses. As a result, low and middle income working parents may qualify for support.

In the case of full day care, parents qualifying for the higher rate of subvention under the CCS programme can have up to €95 per week deducted from the overall charge for childcare in the participating childcare facility. The overall charge is based on the total costs incurred by the facility in providing the service and can vary depending on what the level of overhead costs are. However, all services participating in the CCS programme must submit a fees policy to my Department before funding under the CCS programme is provided in order to ensure that the full value of the subvention provided by my Department is passed on to the parent(s). Any parent with concerns in relation to fees charged can raise the issue with the local County Childcare Committee or with the Childcare Directorate in my Department.

Youth Work Projects Funding

 594. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she has given consideration to maintaining financial support for the Big Brother, Big Sister programme run by the Foróige organisation, which seeks to ensure that vulnerable young people receive the help and support of a mentor which will help them overcome their own difficulties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25142/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.498m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 400,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country.

In 2013, my Department's Youth Affairs Unit will provide total funding to Foróige of €5.93 million.

Programme Amount in 2013
Youth Service Grant Scheme €2,651,154
Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund (1 & 2) €1,195,283
Special Project for Youth €2,083,572
Total €5,930,009
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This total does not include local youth clubs grants, funded by my Department, but allocated to local clubs by and at the discretion of local VECs.

This total does not include funding provided to Foróige with respect to Garda youth diversion projects or funding from other state agencies such as the HSE.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m which equated to almost a 10% reduction on 2012 funding available for the provision of youth services. In 2014 the savings required in the youth budget under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure amount to €2.976m which entails a 5% cut across most schemes and programmes and a 10% cut on the Youth Service Grant Scheme, under which Foróige receives funding as a national organisation.

Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure my Department has tried to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of any necessary reductions in funding.

My Department has tried to be as equitable as possible in achieving these savings. In considering how best to manage within the reduced budgets available, organisations are being asked to consider the scope for reducing administration costs and overheads, if this is at all possible, in order to maintain the front line youth services for young people. I have met, and continue to meet with, many youth organisations and groups to try and see how we can work together to minimise the impact of these necessary savings in order to ensure that the provision of quality youth services to young people is sustained in these challenging times.

In 2011, Foróige, following an internal review of the organisation’s wide range of provision for young people, reprioritised its areas of youth provision and programmes. This reprioritisation, which was proposed to my Department, enabled Foróige to strengthen their Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) Programme nationally. Foróige decided, with the permission of my Department, to reallocate the funding provided by my Department from their Youth Information services to the Big Brother Big Sister Programme. Additional funding was also provided by my Department to Foróige for the Big Brother Big Sister Programme in 2012 and 2013. While I fully appreciate the value of the Big Brother Big Sister Programme and the challenges facing it in the current fiscal climate, given the savings required within my Department's budget under the CRE, I do not envisage any further scope for the provision of any further increase on the funding already provided to Foróige.

A comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding has been commenced in my Department and it is anticipated that the findings of this report will inform the future development of youth programmes and services.

My Department is developing a new youth policy framework for publication later this year. The new youth policy framework will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and it will, inter alia, promote co-ordination between government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.

Departmental Funding

 595. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the funding her Department has allocated, and to which projects, in Tramore, County Waterford, in each of the past five years. [25209/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The information requested is being collated by my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as it is finalised.

Youth Services

 596. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the sections of the Youth Work Act 2001 that have been commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25270/13]

 597. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide details of the proposed Action 231 in the National Action Plan for Jobs and the proposal to develop a new Youth Policy Framework and the timeframe for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25271/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 596 and 597 together.

The Youth Work Act was introduced in 2001 and outlines a number of structural arrangements for the organisation and administration of youth work policy and provision. To date, Sections 2-7, 17, 18 and 24 of the Act have been commenced. In particular, Sections 17 and 18 provide for the establishment of a National Youth Work Advisory Committee (NYWAC). In this regard, I appointed a new Advisory Committee with effect from 28 January 2013 for a period of one year. Its work is currently focussing on the contribution of youth work to youth policy and youth employment.

Action 231 in the National Action Plan for Jobs identifies the requirement to develop a new Youth Policy Framework to review youth funding schemes to ensure that youth work and the non-formal education sector contribute effectively to youth employment, including skills development and experimental learning opportunities for individuals and groups of young people.

My Department is developing a new strategy for children and young people. In keeping with my Department’s responsibilities for children and young people, this new five-year Children and Young People’s Policy Framework is being developed in a holistic way which will comprehend the continuum of the life-course from infancy through to early and middle childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. It will be the overarching Framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State.

The overarching Framework will provide the basis for more detailed strategies including a new youth policy framework. This youth policy framework, for publication later this year, will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and in making them more responsive to meeting the needs of young people, including in addressing the challenge of youth employment. It is intended that the Youth Work Act, 2001 will be reviewed in the context of developing this specific Framework. I am consulting with the NYWAC in this regard and in particular in identifying in what ways the youth sector can contribute to shared policy objectives to address youth employment.

Children Services Committees

 598. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide details of those local authority areas in which children services committees have been established; if she will provide details of the coordinator for each children services committee; the contact details for same and the budget of each committee in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25272/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department is leading an initiative to develop and implement a planning model for local interagency working to improve outcomes for children. The purpose of this initiative is to work towards better developmental outcomes for children through more effective integration of policies and services, in particular through the Children’s Services Committees at local level. Children’s Services Committees (CSCs) bring together a diverse group of agencies in local county areas to engage in joint planning of services for children. These include representatives from the HSE, local authorities, An Garda Síochána, VECs, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Irish Primary Principals Network, NEWB, and other organisations who provide services to children and young people. There are 16 CSCs at various stages of development.

My Department is currently finalising the details of the local authority areas where CSCs have been established along with the coordinators names and contact details and I will provide these details directly to the Deputy over the coming days. These Committees are not fiscally independent of their constituent memberships and do not therefore operate within independent budgets. Where funds are made available to support their activities, these generally reside in a constituent organisation.

In 2013, €108,000 was allocated towards the establishment and development of CSCs. The initiative hopes to secure better developmental outcomes for children through more effective integration of policies and services. In addition, €100,000 has also been allocated by my Department in 2013 towards the recruitment of a National Coordinator for the CSC Initiative and part-time administrative support, who will be hosted by the Centre for Effective Services (CES). This National Coordinator will work with my Department, the new Child and Family Support Agency and will provide strategic leadership to the Children’s Services Committees (CSCs) Initiative. I understand that following a competitive process the post has been offered to a candidate who is due to take up the role next month.

Youth Services

 599. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the cost of implementation of the National Quality Standards Framework in Youth Work in 2011 and 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25273/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) is primarily a support and development tool that provides services and organisations with the opportunity to articulate through a common language their youth work practice. Ensuring quality service delivery is also an ongoing priority. The NQSF applies to all staff-led youth work organisations, services, projects and programmes funded by the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department.

Details of the cost of implementation of the NQSF/Standards Initiatives in 2011 and 2012 are outlined in the table.

2011
€230,226
2012
€208,431

National Lottery Funding Disbursement

 600. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the date on which the details of the 2013 National Lottery grant scheme of once off funding to community and voluntary organisations from her Department will be made known; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25274/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The operational arrangements including eligibility ctiteria for the administration and implementation of the National Lottery Funding Scheme in 2013 is being finalised by my Department at the present time and the related information will be available on the Department`s website (www.dcya.gov.ie) in the very near future. As in previous years, the overall allocation for the funding scheme this year amounts to €500,000.

Constitutional Amendment on Children

 601. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when the amendment to the Constitution in relation to children's rights will take effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25386/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012 is currently the subject of a legal challenge. Judgment in this matter was reserved by the High Court on 16 May last. The outcome of these legal proceedings will determine the time frame for the enactment of this legislation.

Child Detention Centres

 602. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald in view of the recent controversy in relation to a shortage of beds and staff, if she will outline the maximum number of beds available at Oberstown Girls Unit, the Boys Unit and Trinity Boys; the number of staff assigned to each unit; the current staff availability due to sick leave and so on; the staff available per shift; the available beds and staff per unit over the last six month period per day; the number of children in each unit over the last six month period;; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25441/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald There are currently three children detention schools (CDS) in the State: Trinity House School, Oberstown Boys School and Oberstown Girls School, all of which are located on the same campus at Oberstown, near Lusk, Co. Dublin.

1. Maximum number of beds available in Oberstown

The current certified detention capacity under the Children Act 2001 in each of the children detention schools is listed at Table 1 below, as well as the number of bedrooms currently available for use. At present, a detention unit comprising 8 bedrooms is currently not in use. However, my Department is currently working to resolve the issues involved.

Table 1: Oberstown detention capacity/capacity in use

Children Detention SchoolDetention Capacity – CertifiedDetention Capacity - Available
Trinity House School24 16
Oberstown Boys School2020
Oberstown Girls School88
Total:5244
<

Children Detention SchoolDetention Capacity – CertifiedDetention Capacity - Available
Trinity House School24 16
Oberstown Boys School2020
Oberstown Girls School88
Total:5244
<

Apart from the period from 25 February - 13 March 2013, the position as outlined above has applied since 31 August 2011 and is correct as of 28 May 2013. During the period 25 February - 13 March 2013, I am advised that it was planned to make an additional 8 bedroom places available in Trinity House School, bringing the total number of beds available in that facility to the maximum capacity of 24. However, it became apparent during this period that due to staffing issues, the maximum number of beds available to the courts had to be reinstated at 16 bed spaces and this has been the position since 13 March 2013.

2. The number of staff assigned to each unit

3. The current staff availability due to sick leave and so on

4. The staff available per shift

There are 2 grades of staff that are assigned to each Children Detention School for care purposes, which are designated as Residential Care Workers (RCWs) and Night Supervision Officers (NSOs). In relation to each of the issues raised at (2) - (4) above, I am arranging for the most accurate information possible to be collated and provided separately to the Deputy. I can however confirm that as of 30 April 2013, there are a total number of 95.9 RCW staff and 35.4 NSO staff (whole time equivalents) on the payroll of the Oberstown campus, assigned to each Children Detention School as outlined in Table 2:

Table 2: Oberstown Campus – Care staff allocations (30 April 2013)

Children Detention SchoolRCW staff (whole time equivalent)NSO staff
(whole time equivalent)
Trinity House School4013
Oberstown Boys School35.47
Oberstown Girls School20.515.4
Total:95.935.4
<

The totals listed above are subject to further clarification in terms of the total number available for actual service, excluding short term sick leave absences. The adjusted figures for each grade, accounting for short term sick leave, will be addressed in a separate response to be provided to the Deputy.

5. The available beds and staff per unit over the last six month period per day

The available beds in each Children Detention School is outlined at (1) above. In relation to staff available, the information is not immediately available in the format requested by the Deputy for all three Children Detention Schools. However, I am arranging for the information to be collated and provided directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

6. The number of children in each unit over the last 6 month period

This information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Abortion Services

 603. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the position with respect to the C Case; the number of girls in the care of the State that applied to the court for permission to travel for an abortion for each year from 1998 to date; the number taken to Britain or elsewhere for an abortion following a court decision, following testimony from a psychiatrist for the State that they were suicidal for each year from 1998 to date; the psychiatrist involved on each occasion; the number of girls in State care who were refused permission to travel for an abortion for each year from 1998 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25666/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have requested the information from the HSE and I will revert to the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Children in Care

 604. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the average cost to the State of keeping a teenager in St Andrews Centre in Northampton, Britain, per day and per annum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25804/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Under the Child Care Act, 1991, the Health Service Executive has a duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care or protection. The policy of the HSE is to place children in care settings, preferably in foster care, as close as possible to their home and community. A very small minority of young people under 18 years of age have highly specialised needs arising from severe behaviour difficulties, due to their childhood experiences or in some cases as a result of injury, accident or disability. The care needs of these young people are generally met by directly provided residential services or services commissioned by the HSE within Ireland.

For a small number of young people, the HSE is on occasion required to make arrangements for their placement in care and treatment facilities outside of the State, primarily in the UK, to allow for access to an individually tailored mix of care and therapeutic services and psychiatric treatment not currently available in this country. This is done on as infrequent a basis as possible and only where such placement is considered to be in the best interest of the child. These placements are made under the order and supervision of the High Court.

The HSE ensure that these placements are suitable and the child's social worker visits regularly and makes arrangements for family or carers of the child to also visit. The units in which the children are placed are inspected and regulated by their national authorities and the HSE is attentive to the standards of care delivered in these specialised units. The level of requirement for these services is closely monitored by the HSE's National Director for Children an Family Services. I have been advised by the HSE that the average cost to the State of a young person's placement in St. Andrews in Northampton is approximately £10,000 - £12,000 per week.

Children in Care

 605. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the average cost to the State of keeping a teenager in Ballydowd Special Care Unit, County Dublin, per day and per annum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25805/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Special Care involves the detention of a child for his or her own welfare and protection in a Special Care Unit with on site educational and therapeutic supports. A Special Care Unit provides secure residential service to children and young people who are in need of specialised targeted intervention. Children are detained in special care if their behaviour is deemed to pose a risk to themselves. The detention, by order of the High Court of a child in a Special Care Unit is considered as a last resort, for as short a time as possible, and when other forms of residential or community care are considered to be unsuitable. Special Care Units are inspected by HIQA under Section 69 of the Child Care Act, 1991 on an annual basis, and the inspection reports are published. I have been advised by the HSE that the average cost to the State of providing Special Care to a young person placed in Ballydowd Special Care Unit is approximately €10,000 per week (approximately €1424 per day).

Child Care Services Provision

 606. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the level of consultation undertaken to establish the budget of the after-school or CETs 2 scheme; her views on concerns expressed by certain organisations providing child care services that the proposed after-school grant and parental contribution will not be enough to maintain and run a quality after-school programme and that additional financial burden would be put on a sector which they say is already struggling to remain viable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25844/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As part of Budget 2013 I, together with my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, was pleased to announce a new After-school Childcare initiative which will be targeted at low-income parents availing of employment opportunities. Lack of access to affordable, quality childcare is a significant barrier to many low income and disadvantaged families seeking to avail of work opportunities. This initiative will provide an important support measure to enable parents to avail of job opportunities. This is in line with the Government's overall strategy to support parents of low income families to take up employment and demonstrates how Departments are working together to deliver the Government's agenda on promoting employment and supporting children's development.

The initiative is expected to receive full year funding of €14 million to provide over 6,000 after-school places for children attending primary school in order to support parents to take up employment. This funding has been made possible through savings from the Vote of the Department of Social Protection.

Eligibility for the new After-school Childcare programme is determined by the Department of Social Protection. Officials from the Department of Social Protection and my Department are continuing in close collaboration on the operation of the programme. The first pilot phase has commenced. Up to 500 childcare places are available with Department of Social Protection local offices in Tralee, Mullingar, Dundalk, Cork City, Finglas, Kings Inn and Limerick City participating. The second phase of the pilot will be rolled out in July, with the full roll-out of the programme in September 2013, to coincide with the new school year.

As you know the emphasis now in relation to all childcare support programmes is the delivery of easily accessible, affordable and quality childcare provision. The pilot programme will assist both Departments in determining the procedural, quality and practical issues that require attention prior to the finalisation of the programme. The programme will provide €35 per week per child enrolled in a participating service for after school services and this payment will rise to €100 per week during holiday periods when parents will be availing of full day care. A further €20 per week will be paid by the parent to the provider in both instances.

Service providers seeking to join the programme can apply to participate, with effect from September 2013, in the normal manner. There is, however, no obligation on childcare services to provide for places under the Programme.

Departmental Reports

 607. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when she intends to publish the Parenting Support Strategy. [25892/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The family continues to occupy a central and vitally important place in Irish Society, and the quality of family relationships, and factors within the home, impact hugely on children's development. We are lucky that in Ireland we have generally positive parental–child relationships. For example, the ‘State of Nation’s Children’ Report which I published earlier this year indicates that 82% of children aged 10-17 reported that they find it easy to talk to their mother when something is really bothering them.

A further report from last year by Dr. Elizabeth Nixon, based on Growing Up in Ireland data and focusing on ‘How Families Matter for Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being’, highlighted just how instrumental parents and families are for child well-being and this cannot be emphasised enough. It also highlighted how parenting can have just as great an impact on a child’s life chances as family structure, income or social class. Put simply, good parenting is crucial for children’s outcomes. That is why this Government and I have committed to supporting children, parents and families.

The HSE Child & Family Services, along with the existing Family Support Agency, fund a variety of programmes to support families and parenting. The National Educational Welfare Board, which comes under my Department’s remit, provides funding to the Teen Parents Support Programme. These various bodies will shortly be incorporated into the new Child and Family Agency. At the heart of the Agency will be an enhanced focus on early intervention and family support; and this will be greatly supported by the inclusion of the nationwide network of 106 Family Resource Centres. I believe that establishing this new Agency presents us with a very exciting opportunity to consolidate and develop effective, evidence-based parenting and family supports.

In addition, a range of parenting programmes, including home visitation services, have been introduced under the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme which has been funded by my Department and Atlantic Philanthropies. Evaluations to date of the three sites in Tallaght, Ballymun and Darndale have shown that parenting programmes can have a positive impact in tackling the early onset of behavioural and emotional problems among children as well as reducing parental stress and improving parental well-being. Building on the critical learning emerging from the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme I hope to see effective, evidence-based parenting supports being included in the new Area Based Approach to Child Poverty which is currently being established on foot of funding announced in Budget 2013,

The work of the new Child & Family Agency and the Area Based Approach to Child Poverty, as well as broader policy and programme delivery across Government, will be advised by ongoing work on the Government’s Children’s & Young People’s Policy Framework and Ireland’s first-ever National Early Years Strategy, work on both of which is at an advanced stage. The Early Years Strategy has been a specific priority for me and I see the Strategy as providing an innovative and dynamic blueprint for the future development of Ireland’s Early Years sector aimed at providing a coherent approach to seeking to improve the lives of children from birth to age six. Policy considerations relating to supports for families and parenting will be considered in the context of the ongoing preparation of these strategies.

In the case of the Early Years Strategy, I have established an Expert Advisory Group and this group has had specific and focused meetings on the issue of parental support including presentations by the Centre of Effective Services who have shared the learning from their evaluations of early intervention and prevention programmes and the work of the Special Interest Group on Parenting which they have established and facilitated.

Preschool Services

 608. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the inspection regime for the preschool sector; the number of such facilities per county; the number of same that have been inspected in each of the past three years per county; the result of these inspections; and her plans to ensure that all children attending such facilities can be assured of a quality service. [25894/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006, the inspection of pre-schools is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE), and I have referred the Deputy’s specific queries to the HSE for direct reply.

I understand that, in 2011, 2,789 childcare providers were subject to inspections by the HSE Pre-School Inspectorate. This is an inspection rate of over 61% in a single year. This compares very favourably with comparable jurisdictions such as England, where Ofsted operates a policy of inspecting childcare providers on a 3 – 4 year cycle. However, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, driving the early childhood care and education quality agenda is one of my key objectives. I believe we can achieve this objective by taking a number of steps in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, including the adaptation of the existing pre-school inspection system to provide a more comprehensive and broader-based inspection regime for pre-schools, moving to a greater focus on outcomes for children. In support of this, a Joint Pilot Inspection of Early Years Services was carried out by Inspectors from the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills between September 2011 and May 2012. This pilot will inform the proactive approach being taken by my Department.

Proposed Legislation

 609. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will ensure that the Private Member's Bill regarding the Statute of Limitations Amendment Act 2013 in relation to survivors of symphysoiotomy is expedited through the Committee at the earliest opportunity. [25055/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Private Members Bill in question has been referred to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for attention at a date that has yet to be scheduled. My officials will provide any necessary supports required from my Department to progress this legislation through Committee Stage.

Home Help Service Issues

 610. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a person providing homehelp care for a Government department will be permitted to work past their sixty fifth birthday; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25134/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Accident and Emergency Services Provision

 611. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to any increase in patients presenting to the accident and emergency at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, in relation to drug linked assaults. [25338/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Hospital Staff

 612. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will confirm that Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, has indicated that it is letting go contract staff as per Health Service Executive guidelines; if he will outline the areas of work that they cover; if there has been an analysis done in relation to the impact that these job losses will have on the hospital and its services. [25339/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 613. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the total capital expenditure each year at Wexford Hospital by his Department from 1997 to 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25348/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Prior to 2005, my Department funded the health boards for their expenditure on capital projects. Capital grants were not paid directly to individual health facilities. The South Eastern Health Board received capital grants in respect of facilities in its catchment area. Since 2005, the Health Service Executive has been responsible for expenditure on capital projects. Therefore your question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.


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