215. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will re-examine regulations recently introduced by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency which will compel child minders to complete Fetac level 5; if she is aware that this change in regulations may compel many persons who are providing child minding services in their own homes to discontinue this practice; if she is further aware that this will be a serious inconvenience to parents who prefer this arrangement rather than sending their children to a crèche; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18574/16 asked on 29 Jun 2016 - Preschool Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): When the Early Years Quality Agenda was introduced in 2013 to further improve quality in early years services, one of the items to be progressed was the introduction of a requirement that all staff working with children in pre-school services must hold a qualification in early childhood care and education at a minimum of Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or equivalent. Under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Y...

452. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he has received representations from the Family Resource Centre National Forum seeking to discuss recent changes by Tusla-Child and Family Agency to structures and funding; if he will grant these requests, given the invaluable service these groups provide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34304/15 asked on 06 Oct 2015 - Child and Family Agency Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): I can confirm that I have received representations from the Family Resource Centre National Forum (FRCNF). I have also received representations in relation to funding from a number of Family Resource Centres (FRCs) around the country. 
The Family Resource Centre National Forum highlighted its wish to discuss a number of issues including recent changes by Tusla to structures and funding amongst other matters. The issues raised were ...

286. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of the cost of childcare in this country, if he will alleviate some of the burden on commercial rates on the childcare sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46880/14 asked on 09 Dec 2014 - Child Care Costs)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): I am aware of the high cost of early childhood care and education services in this country. The Government did announce in Budget 2015 an increase of €5 per month in child benefit for each eligible child. This measure brings the monthly payment per child to €135 and will benefit more than 600,000 families. 
My Department provides annual funding in the region of €260 million to the childcare sector to support a number of childcare pr...

112. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the ministerial transport costs for the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, for each Minister and Minister of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44885/14 asked on 19 Nov 2014 - Ministerial Transport)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): My Department was established in 2011. The expenditure relating to Ministerial transport, encompassing overseas and domestic travel transport costs is set out below.
 Year Ministerial Transport Costs 2011 €19,599 2012 €14,600 2013 €20,832 
 ...

483. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will consider preschool support in respect of a child (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 28985/13 asked on 18 Jun 2013 - Preschool Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The ECCE programme provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children. Approximately 68,000 children are availing of the ECCE programme in the current school year. 
Children are eligible to avail of the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September in the relevant year. Children born between 2 February 2009 and 30 June 2010 will qualify for the free pre-...

860. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will confirm receipt of correspondence from a person (details supplied) in County Limerick regarding early childhood care and education; if she has reviewed the comments; the actions she is likely to take subsequently; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 27595/13 asked on 11 Jun 2013 - Early Child Care Education Issues)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme provides for one free pre-school year for all eligible children before commencing primary school.
The programme includes a number of additional provisions to take account of children with special needs. These include an exemption from the upper age limit for qualification under the programme where a child is developmentally delayed and would benefit from starting primary ...

245. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will confirm the availability of a second year of free preschool education in respect of a child (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 23272/13 asked on 15 May 2013 - Early Childhood Education)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 and provides for one free pre-school year for all eligible children before commencing primary school.
The programme includes a number of additional provisions to take account of children with special needs. These include an exemption from the upper age limit for qualification under the programme where a child is developmentally delayed and w...

14. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will introduce higher standards of qualification in early care and education services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 21842/13 asked on 09 May 2013 - Early Childhood Education)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Nearly all pre-school services in the State are now participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 and which provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children before they commence primary school. 
The minimum qualification requirements have, in fact, been increased for those delivering the ECCE programme. During the 2010-2012 period, there was an interim qua...

140. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of measures her Department has been tasked with in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 (Question 17359/13 asked on 16 Apr 2013 - Action Plan for Jobs)

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: I proposed to take Questions Nos. 114 and 140 together.
Action Plan for Jobs 2013 contains actions relating to my Department in two specific areas: child care and youth work. With regard to the action relating to child care, including action 235 in the current 2013 plan, I can confirm that in budget 2013, I announced, together with the Minister for Social Protection, a new €14 million investment in an after-school child care programme. This programme will deliver 6,0...

9. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has any plans to introduce a ban on parents slapping their children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7338/13 asked on 13 Feb 2013 - Corporal Punishment)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Section 246 of the Children Act 2001 provides very clear legal deterrents to the use of excessive physical discipline within the home setting or otherwise, as follows:
 Section 246.—(1 ) ‘It shall be an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abando...

756. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of former public servants recruited before 6 April 1995 who are currently receiving a public sector pension including both pensions funded by the Exchequer and through the Local Government Fund, and those pension schemes for which she has responsibility; the age profile of those public servants; if she will provide in tabular form the numbers of public sector pensioners in the following parameters between €1,000 intervals up to €20,000 and those on more than €20,000. (Question 5886/13 asked on 05 Feb 2013 - Public Sector Pensions Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been advised that there are 133 retired public servants of agencies under the remit of my Department who were recruited prior to 6 April 1995 and are currently in receipt of a public service pension. Fifty six (42%) of these are under age 65 years and seventy seven (58%) are over 65 years old. The information requested by the Deputy in respect specific pension bands is as follows:
 RANGE FROM RANGE TO NO. OF PEN...

73. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if adequate resources to employ social workers for children are in place for 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56708/12 asked on 18 Dec 2012 - Child and Family Support Agency Establishment)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government has given approval to the drafting of a Bill to establish the Child and Family Support Agency. Work on the preparation of the legislation is proceeding as a priority and the intention is that the Agency will be established in early 2013. This will involve the transfer of over 4,000 staff. 
I welcome the allocation of €546 million in the HSE vote for 2013 in respect of children and family services. This consists...

84. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the discussions she has had with the Health Service Executive regarding complementary funding supports to county childcare committees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56713/12 asked on 18 Dec 2012 - Child Care Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 101 together.
The City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) are funded by my Department to assist it in implementing its early years programmes, including supporting service providers and advising parents, at local level. In 2012, the total amount allocated by my Department to the CCCs was €11.3 million.
Childminding advisory officers have been funded in the past by the Health Service ...

23. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on the recent annual report of the Ombudsman for Children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46705/12 asked on 25 Oct 2012 - Ombudsman for Children Reports)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Ombudsman for Children operates under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. Responsibility for certain Ministerial functions under this Act came under the remit of my Department with effect from 3 June 2011 by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2011 (S.I. 218 of 2011). However, the Ombudsman for Children is independent in the pe...

29. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in the context of the pending children’s first legislation and the vetting legislation and the need for child protection for all children, if she will give a commitment that she will introduce regulation for all child minders regardless of the number of children being cared for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46732/12 asked on 25 Oct 2012 - Child Protection Guidelines)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and responding appropriately to child abuse and neglect. It also sets out what organisations that care for or work with children should do to ensure they are safe whilst in the care of the organisation. The Government has committed, as a priori...

27. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will ensure that child minders are included in the final draft of the Children First legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 40687/12 asked on 26 Sep 2012 - Child Protection Issues)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, which I published in 2011, provides clarity and guidance for individuals and organisations in identifying and responding appropriately to child abuse and neglect. It also sets out what organisations that care for or work with children should do to ensure they are safe whilst in the care of the organisation. The Government has committed, as a prior...