273. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of implementing public liability insurance cover for foster carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20634/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Public Liability Insurance)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As I stated to Deputy Mitchell recently, my Department is fully supportive of extending the State Indemnity Scheme under the State Claims Agency to foster parents.
Unfortunately this is taking longer than expected due to technical issues associated with the approvals and statutory process involved. Work is ongoing to address these matters. While we remain confident that these issues will be addressed, I can also confirm that t...

274. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will publish an interim report on her Department’s sustainability and cost review of the early years sector. (Question 20646/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Early Years Sector)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Independent Review of the Cost of Providing Quality Childcare is a critical input to the on-going reform of childcare in Ireland and is commitment in the Programme for Government. 
This Review seeks to:
- Analyse the current costs of providing childcare in Ireland and factors that impact on those costs;
- Develop a model of the unit cost/costs of providing childcare that allows analysis of policy changes and variation in cos...

275. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affair’s Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults; the action her Department is taking to implement the recommendations of this report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20654/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Internet Safety)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I welcome the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affair’s Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults. Keeping children and young people safe online is a challenging issue that requires a whole of government approach and this is reflected in the Committee’s report. 
The Department of the Taoiseach is currently developing an Action Plan on online safety involving all relevant Departments, including my Dep...

276. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the school completion programme; the action her Department is taking to continue to support this programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20655/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am very conscious that the School Completion Programme delivers a valuable service for some of our most vulnerable young people. 
With this in mind, the Board of Tusla convened an expert panel to identify and examine a potential revised model of good practice and governance of the School Completion Programme. 
The panel comprised an external legal expert, representation of Tusla Educational Welfare Service, Finance, HR and Leg...

252. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the contracts awarded by her Department or an agency under her remit to a company (details supplied) since March 2011, by year in tabular form; the cost per contract; the basis for each contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20311/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Contracts Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department has utilised internal audit services provided by this company during a period when this Department was unable to recruit a Head of Internal Audit and then supported the service subsequently. A contract was signed for their services on 20 October 2014 for a 12 month period with the option of an extension of a further 12 months, which was availed of. Payments were made into 2017 as audits by the company were comple...

253. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the possibility of increasing wages paid to child care practitioners to reflect the qualifications they must possess to work within the industry will be investigated; the position regarding the reduction of childcare fees for working parents; her views on whether the significant expenses associated with childcare are effectively a deterrent to first time parents that genuinely want to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20340/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Child Care Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I wish to acknowledge the critical role played by staff working in the childcare sector in delivering high quality childcare services. They deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this.  My Department does, however, acknowledge that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. My Department is engaging with the early years sector to explore how this can be addressed.
In relation to pay and conditions for t...

254. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to allocate additional resources to Cork city and county, specifically LGBT youth supports. (Question 20419/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Youth Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am pleased to confirm that an extra €1.5m has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services in 2018. This will bring the total current youth funding available to my Department to €58.9m.  The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people.  Funding to staff-led youth services has generally been targeted at areas of disadvantage and not in proportion to the...

255. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the capital allocation across her Department in each of the years 2018 to 2022. (Question 20444/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 to 257, inclusive, together.
The National Development Plan sets out the Government`s capital investment priorities that will underpin the new National Planning Framework. My Department has been allocated €156 million in capital expenditure over the period 2018-2022 under the Plan as set out in the following table:
   2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Capital Allocations (€ million) 2...

256. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her Department’s capital allocation for projects underway and projects already tendered or committed to spending contractually. (Question 20461/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 to 257, inclusive, together.
The National Development Plan sets out the Government`s capital investment priorities that will underpin the new National Planning Framework. My Department has been allocated €156 million in capital expenditure over the period 2018-2022 under the Plan as set out in the following table:
   2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Capital Allocations (€ million) 2...

257. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her Department’s capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022 disaggregated according to capital allocated to projects underway, projects contractually committed to and projects yet to be initiated. (Question 20478/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 to 257, inclusive, together.
The National Development Plan sets out the Government`s capital investment priorities that will underpin the new National Planning Framework. My Department has been allocated €156 million in capital expenditure over the period 2018-2022 under the Plan as set out in the following table:
   2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Capital Allocations (€ million) 2...

427. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of cases of alleged sexual abuse of children in foster care by a person or persons in the home that have been reported to the HSE in each year in the past decade; the policy of the HSE for dealing with such reports; if An Garda Síochána was informed in each case; if the policy is for the children to be removed from the home on foot of an allegation being made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20117/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Sexual Offences Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As this is of an operational nature, I have asked Tusla to request figures from the local areas that may be of assistance and to reply to the Deputy directly. I would note that Tusla was set up in January 2014, and prior to this the services were provided by the Health Service Executive.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has a clear protocol for managing concerns or allegations about foster carers which is procedure which is t...

428. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she is taking to ensure the progress of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20179/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Adoption Legislation)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 provides for the first time a statutory entitlement to identity information for adopted persons. 
The legislation provides for structured and regulated access to information and tracing services for those affected by adoption. It sets out the information that can be provided, which includes early life information and medical information, and the circumstances in which it can be pr...

228. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated full year cost of restoring the visiting teacher service for Travellers to primary and post-primary schools. (Question 19417/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Visiting Teacher Service)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As the Deputy may be aware, the Visiting Teachers Service for Travellers was discontinued with effect from September 2011, in line with Department of Education and Skills policy on the phasing out of segregated Traveller provision. The Department of Education and Skills have advised that the funding costs for the programme in the final full year of the programme in 2010 were €2,716,737.
 ...

229. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the total Irish contribution to the European Solidarity Corps; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19560/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - European Solidarity Corps)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The European Solidarity Corps aims at enhancing the engagement of young people and organisations in solidarity activities which are of high quality and accessible to all young people, as a means to contribute to strengthening cohesion and solidarity in Europe, supporting communities and responding to unmet societal needs. A regulation for implementation of the European Solidarity Corps is currently under discussion at EU level,...

230. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the percentage of children enrolled in the ECCE programme that will be eligible to avail of the next programme year (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19376/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Early Childhood Care and Education Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): There are currently 67,052 children enrolled in ECCE for this programme year, 2017/18, who will be eligible for the next programme year, 2018/19. This represents 57% of the 117,152 children currently registered on the ECCE scheme for 2017-18.
From September 2018, all children meeting the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months will be eligible for a full two programme years on the ECCE scheme (or free preschool as it has...

231. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of households that use child minders for part or all of their childcare needs. (Question 19377/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Child Care Services Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As the vast majority of childminders are currently unregistered, I can provide estimates of the number of individuals involved in childminding, but not concrete figures. According to CSO estimates, 10% of children in Ireland from infancy to 12 years of age receive childcare services from childminders, au pairs or nannies, often in combination with other forms of parental and non-parental childcare. This equates to approximatel...

232. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the percentage of children who availed of ECCE hours in two programme years (details supplied). (Question 19378/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Early Childhood Care and Education Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I understand, following clarification received, that the Deputy’s question relates to the number of children who have availed of ECCE in more than one programme year.
When ECCE was introduced in 2010 it was only for one programme year or 38 weeks. ECCE was extended in 2016 when, on average, children benefitted from 61 weeks. The number of children that have availed of more than one programme year since the extension in 2016 ar...

233. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of households availing of each subsidy level (details supplied) of the childcare subsidy scheme in tabular form. (Question 19379/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Child Care Services Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In September 2017 as part of the Government policy to make childcare more affordable, I introduced a universal childcare subvention payment of up to €20 per week for families using eligible childcare providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme (ECCE). The Universal scheme is administered through the current Community Childcare Subven...

234. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated full year cost of one child’s place in the ECCE programme. (Question 19380/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Early Childhood Care and Education Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The ECCE programme operates over a 38 week programme year. Currently service providers receive €64.50 per child per week. If a service has been approved for higher capitation the weekly payment increases to €75 per child. Pre-school settings employing an Inclusion Co-ordinator under the LINC programme will receive an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable.
Higher Capitation is paid for individu...

235. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount spent on facilitating departmental members’ attendance at social media training conferences or other external events. (Question 19391/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Departmental Staff Training)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In relation to my Department I can confirm that the costs for the provision of social media training for each year from 2011 - 2018 are set out in the following table:

 Year Costs incurred by Department Social Media Training Delivered Number of Staff Attended Social Media training conferences or other external events 2011 Nil Nil Nil Nil 2012 Nil Nil Nil Nil 2013 Nil Nil Nil Nil 2014 Nil Nil Nil Nil 2015...

236. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the long waiting times that still exist for Tusla to furnish section 20 reports requested by the District Courts in County Donegal despite assurances (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19469/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Child and Family Agency Reports)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As this is an operational matter, I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and requested that they contact the Deputy directly. 
As I noted previously, under section 20 of the Child Care Act 1991, a Court, may of its own volition or on the application of any person, adjourn proceedings and direct the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, to report on the safety, care, health or welfare of a child involved in the proceedin...

152. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children seeking asylum awaiting the allocation of a social care worker; the average wait time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19143/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Asylum Support Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Separated children seeking asylum, who are in care, are allocated a social worker. While they may receive services from social care workers, their dedicated point of contact remains their allocated social worker.
Children who are with their parents or families, and applying for asylum, remain in the care of their parents. They may receive supports from social workers or social care workers, as required. Tusla does not collate in...

153. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children seeking asylum here awaiting an aftercare plan. (Question 19144/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Asylum Support Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and will provide the information to which the Deputy refers once I have received it.
 ...

154. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the maximum age for a person to commence fostering children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19170/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Foster Care)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Following extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, approved revised Policy, Procedures and Best Practice Guidance for Foster Care Committees in February of last year. 
I can confirm that one of the issues that arose during consultation, and which has been addressed in the revised document, concerns the previous guidance in relation to the age of applicants. The guidance in relation t...

155. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in foster care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19171/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Foster Care Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, most recent figures indicate that there were 6,161 children in care at the end of February 2018. Of the children in care, 92% were in foster care nationally; there were 4,037 (65%) children in general foster care, 1,646 (27%) in relative care and 357 (6%) children were in a residential care placement, with the remaining children in other care placements appropriate to their assessed needs.
Fo...