29. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that despite recognition of Traveller ethnicity in March 2017, infant mortality rates in this group are 3.6 times higher than the rest of the population; her plans to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9020/18 asked on 22 Feb 2018 - Traveller Community)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I must inform the Deputy that my Department has no responsibility with regard to this issue. If the Deputy has any particular questions regarding health issues, including infant mortality, he should address these to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD.
As a lifelong campaigner for equality, social justice and fairness, I regard the recognition of Traveller ethnicity in 2017 as a hugely significant development. 
I am concer...

56. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on the impact a club (details supplied) has had on local young persons interested in animal and equine care; if she will work with her colleagues in other Departments to introduce similar programmes in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43528/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Youth Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 64 together.
The Clondalkin/Ballyowen Equine facility is an initiative which was financed by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with South Dublin County Council. The facility provides a base for young people from the area who can’t afford a private stable to care for their animals. It also provides an opportunity for young people to develop good animal welfare practice and eq...

64. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will visit a club (details supplied) to examine the positive results of young persons coming together to identify their own areas of interest with community development workers; her plans to use this model in working with young persons interested in animal and equine care in other disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43529/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Youth Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 64 together.
The Clondalkin/Ballyowen Equine facility is an initiative which was financed by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with South Dublin County Council. The facility provides a base for young people from the area who can’t afford a private stable to care for their animals. It also provides an opportunity for young people to develop good animal welfare practice and eq...

548. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the need for youth facilities and programmes in the Newcastle, County Dublin area; her plans to put funding and resources in place to address these growing needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 31019/17 asked on 04 Jul 2017 - Youth Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In 2017 I was delighted to approve funding of €800,000 for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new challenges arising from population increases. This additional investment is being provided in regions of the country where there is a pressing need for services to meet the needs of young people. 
Each of the sixteen Education and Training Boards, in...

39. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she will take to address the youth needs in Balgaddy, which is an area of disadvantage and exclusion in Dublin mid-west; if facilities will be put in place to accommodate the needs of young persons in the area and specifically, in the Tor an Rí area of Balgaddy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15206/17 asked on 28 Mar 2017 - Youth Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In 2017, funding of €57.4m has been provided to my Department for various youth schemes, an increase of €5.5m over 2016. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services. My Department has now notified projects and services of their 2017 allocations. 
The funding schemes support national...

80. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will establish an urgent interdepartmental task force to address the escalating national crisis of child poverty in view of the fact that, according to the most recent SILC report 2015, a child is now more than four times more likely to live in poverty based on their family status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7026/17 asked on 14 Feb 2017 - Child Poverty)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The reduction of children’s poverty is a key political priority for me as a Minister. I have devoted all of my professional life in Ireland to the development of community based approaches to tackle children’s poverty and designing and delivering effective prevention and early intervention strategies to do same.
In recognition of the higher risks and life-long consequences of child poverty, the Government set a child-specific p...

46. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason children in care at a residential centre run by Tusla in County Tipperary were exposed to behaviours and situations that were higher risk than the situations they were removed from, according to HIQA; the safeguards for their care that have been put in place to ensure their current safety and security; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39934/16 asked on 14 Dec 2016 - Child Protection Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As the Deputy is aware the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) carried out an unannounced inspection of this residential centre, which is operated by Tusla, in August 2016. The report in respect of monitoring against national standards was published in November 2016. 
The inspection report identified a worrying level of high risk behaviours by some young people, which staff were not able to manage, and which impact...

47. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason senior child protection sources who spoke to RTÉ said apparent discrimination by Tusla, reported by the HSE, which may have excluded children from child protection services was ongoing, but Tusla have issued a statement saying this was an issue only in the past; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39933/16 asked on 14 Dec 2016 - Child Protection)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I think it is vital to emphasise that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has never found, in all of the inspections that it has conducted, an instance where child protection services – when required – were not immediately available. Tusla has reiterated its position that all child protection concerns it receives are screened and assessed in line with Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welf...

34. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the new child care scheme is to assist the most disadvantaged in society; the way it is justified that those on TEC schemes will be worse off with the child care subvention scheme, considering that those parents are the poorest in society; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 33544/16 asked on 08 Nov 2016 - Child Care Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am pleased to assure the Deputy that no recipients will be made worse off as a result of the improvements I am introducing. Under the current programmes, including the TEC programme to which the Deputy refers, there are many families with low income-levels who are not currently able to access subsidised childcare because of the requirement to be in receipt of certain state benefits or attending certain training programmes. 
T...

35. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether €12 million is substantial enough to support persons on the lowest threshold or income; if the support to be provided is realistic enough to the needs of low income workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 33543/16 asked on 08 Nov 2016 - Child Care Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am satisfied that the new scheme is properly funded to support people on the lowest incomes. Budget 2017 provided an additional €19m to enable the introduction of a new single Affordable Childcare Scheme from September 2017. This is in addition to the existing funding which supports the current targeted schemes and which equates to €87m annually. The full year cost of the scheme will be approximately €150m. 
From September ...

957. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the arrangements in place for ensuring that in accessing the free preschool education years, there is no discrimination based on date of birth in relation to a child’s eligibility for funding at the start of the school year. (Question 26917/16 asked on 27 Sep 2016 - Early Childhood Care and Education)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department does its best to ensure, in so far as is possible, the equitable treatment of all children and families who apply for childcare funding under the ECCE Programme. In order to ensure objectivity and fairness it is essential that clear rules exist for the scheme and that they are applied in a fair manner. The rules for all the Department’s childcare schemes are clearly published to ensure transparency and consistent...

325. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason for the exclusion of former residents of county homes, other than from a minority of four selected county homes, from giving evidence to the mother and baby homes commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20230/16 asked on 07 Jul 2016 - Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was formally established by Government Order on the 17th February 2015.
In accordance with its comprehensive Terms of Reference, the Commission was tasked with thoroughly examining the experience of mothers and children resident in 14 named Mother and Baby Homes and a representative sample of County Homes to be selected by the Commission. 
The...