643. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when Ireland will ratify the second optional protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the legal reason Ireland has not done so. (Question 53518/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department is working with the Department of Justice and Equality to ensure that all necessary arrangements are in place to fully comply with the provisions of the Second Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography so that Ireland can ratify the Optional Protocol as soon as possible.
The recent enactment of the Sexual Offence Act (2017) constituted a key step on the pathway to ratificat...

644. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that each educational welfare officer is assigned to an average of 50 schools; her plans to tackle this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51918/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Education Welfare Service Staff)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department has requested a reply from the Educational Welfare Service of Tusla to your question, we will forward the answer directly to you as soon as it becomes available.
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645. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to ratify the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53549/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department is working with the Department of Justice and Equality to ensure that all necessary arrangements are in place to fully comply with the provisions of the Second Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography so that Ireland can ratify the Optional Protocol as soon as possible.
The recent enactment of the Sexual Offence Act (2017) constituted a key step on the pathway to ratificat...

646. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within her area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53562/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Commencement of Legislation)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department has responsibility for the following Acts, or parts of Acts, which have yet to be fully commenced, Youth Work Act 2001, the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011, the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015, the Children (Amendment) Act 2015 and the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017.
Youth Work Act 2001
The sections of the Youth Work Act 2001 yet to be commenced are sections 8 to 16, 19 to 23 and 25 to 37. 
Since the enactment of th...

647. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her long-term plans with regard to the ECCE scheme; if a decision on the over age exemption from the early childhood care and education scheme will be reversed and not just paused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53625/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Early Childhood Care and Education)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 and 661 together.
I have committed to consulting further with parents of children with disabilities before a decision is made on the future of the over-age exemption for the ECCE scheme. 
My officials are working closely with the Department of Education and Skills in designing the consultation and also taking advice from the Cross Sectoral Implementation Group (CSIG) of the Access and Inclusi...

648. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to improve services and provide additional facilities in counties Cavan and Monaghan for victims of domestic abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53897/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Domestic Violence)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the provision of care and protection to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. I have requested information from Tusla in relation to this matter. I will revert to the Deputy once I have been furnished with a response by Tusla.
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649. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of discussions between her Department and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government regarding the disparity of treatment in respect of the application of commercial rates to private early services that provide full day services or after-school services and have to pay full commercial rates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54013/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Child Care Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Firstly, I would note that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has no function in determining which properties are rateable. This is the responsibility of the Commissioner of Valuation. The Valuation Office falls under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. 
The Valuation Act, 2001 as amended by the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015 provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose, including co...

650. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding provided to the school completion programme in 2017; and the amount budgeted for 2018. (Question 54064/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 650 and 655 together.
The Educational Welfare Service of Tusla has advised that the School Completion Programme received €24.7m in funding in 2017. It has also advised that confirmation of the allocation for 2018 will be confirmed following the completion of the 2018 business planning process in Tusla.
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651. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of schools that have availed of the school completion programme each year since 2011. (Question 54065/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): A total of 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools have been included in the School Completion Programme per year from 2011 to the current year. The number of schools has been the same each year.
The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following table.
 Year Total No. Primary Schools in SCP Total No. Post-primary Schools in SCP 2011 224 470 2012 224 470 2013 224 470 2014 224 470 2015 224 ...

652. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding provided to the family resource centre network in 2017; and the amount budgeted for 2018. (Question 54066/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Family Resource Centres)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 652 and 653 together.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is responsible for the administration of the Family Resource Centre Programme. In 2017, Tusla allocated €13.51m to the programme. In addition, supplementary once off funding of €2.120m has been allocated recently to centres for minor works, including the purchase of equipment. In 2018, I am pleased to advise the Deputy that an additional...

653. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding provided to the family resource centres in 2017; and the total amount budgeted for 2018. (Question 54067/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Family Resource Centres)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 652 and 653 together.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is responsible for the administration of the Family Resource Centre Programme. In 2017, Tusla allocated €13.51m to the programme. In addition, supplementary once off funding of €2.120m has been allocated recently to centres for minor works, including the purchase of equipment. In 2018, I am pleased to advise the Deputy that an additional...

654. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her expansion plans for the family resource centre network; and the counties in which she plans to establish new family resource centres. (Question 54068/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Family Resource Centres)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am placing a strong emphasis on family support services next year, and the development of capacity within the Family Resource Centre Programme. 
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency currently allocates funding to 109 Family Resource Centres. This funding provides a contribution towards the running costs of centres. 
In 2018, I am providing Tusla with additional funding of almost €3.0m for the Family Resource Centre Programme. ...

655. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding provided to the school completion programme in 2017; and the amount budgeted for 2018. (Question 54069/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 650 and 655 together.
The Educational Welfare Service of Tusla has advised that the School Completion Programme received €24.7m in funding in 2017. It has also advised that confirmation of the allocation for 2018 will be confirmed following the completion of the 2018 business planning process in Tusla.
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656. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the cost of hiring an additional social care worker. (Question 54070/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Social Workers Recruitment)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Tusla has advised me of the cost of hiring a social care worker and this is set out in the following table:
 Basic Pay PRSI Total Pay Non Pay Total Cost €38,663 €4,156 €42,819 €9,666 €52,485 

Please note that the basic pay is at the midpoint of the scale.
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657. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the details of the 300 additional Tusla staff who are being recruited to handle mandatory reporting, by job title and pay grade. (Question 54071/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Child and Family Agency Staff)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My allocation of an additional €40.6 million in 2018 will allow Tusla to increase its staffing levels significantly to respond to expected increases in referrals following the introduction of mandatory reporting on 11 December 2017. 
The breakdown of the additional staff, and the precise number of additional social workers to be recruited, is now being finalised by Tusla in the context of its 2018 Business Plan and the Performa...

658. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the use of external public relations firms employed per annum by her Department since coming into office, in tabular form; the external public relations firm used; the internal departmental policy with regard to employing external groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54072/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I came into office in May 2016 and there was no spend by my Department on the matters referred to in that year. The spend to date in 2017 is set out in the following table: 
 Company: Amount: Ms. Mandy Johnson €4,750 Persuasion Republic €102,256 Total €107,006 

In general such services are engaged only as needs arise and where it is felt professional expertise can be of assistance to my Department. 
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659. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the photography costs per annum for her Department since coming to office, inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance, in tabular form; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54073/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Details of the costs incurred on photography by my Department since my appointment as Minister in May 2016 are set out in the following table: 
 Date Photographer Nature of Employment Cost 2016 Maxwell Photography Ltd. Comhairle na nÓg Showcase €528.90 2017 to date Maxwell Photography Ltd. Launch of Affordable Childcare Scheme €430.50 Maxwell Photography Ltd. Photo Call: Childcare Billboard Launch 01/8/17 €361...

660. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the average time that children in each county are waiting to be allocated a social worker in cases, including high-priority cases of child protection and children in care. (Question 54074/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Child and Family Agency Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I can inform the Deputy that there were 26,201 open cases nationally at the end of September, which includes children in care. An open case is one which is assessed as needing a dedicated (allocated) social work service. There were 5,284 unallocated cases, of which 966 were high priority cases, 3,309 were medium priority, and 1,009 were low priority. Cases awaiting allocation include new referrals, cases already in progress,...

661. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the opening date of the consultation on the over age exemption in the ECCE programme; the closing date; and the date by which her Department will make a decision on the future of the over age exemption. (Question 54075/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Early Childhood Care and Education)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 and 661 together.
I have committed to consulting further with parents of children with disabilities before a decision is made on the future of the over-age exemption for the ECCE scheme. 
My officials are working closely with the Department of Education and Skills in designing the consultation and also taking advice from the Cross Sectoral Implementation Group (CSIG) of the Access and Inclusi...

662. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount her Department has spent on guardian ad litem services, by provider. (Question 54076/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Guardians Ad Litem)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As stated in my previous response to you on 25 July 2017, and to Deputy Niamh Smith on 11 September 2017, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has informed me that the total amount paid to Guardians ad litem was €8,189,175 in 2015 and €6,569,115 in 2016. Supplementary information has now been received from Tusla, confirming the total amount paid to Guardians ad litem for 2017, as of the end of October, to be €6,152,517. The fol...

663. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of increasing the number of weeks provided under ECCE by 1 to 8 weeks, respectively. (Question 54077/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Early Childhood Care and Education Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The estimated cost of extending the ECCE programme, as specified by the Deputy, is contained in the table. These figures are based on current rates for the ECCE 2017/2018 programme year. It should be noted that this question only addresses the financial aspect of such increases. Any such changes would require revision of rules around eligibility and enrolment dates and would need to look at issues of capacity with regard to ph...

664. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the use her Department has made of the Government jet since coming into office, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54190/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Ministerial Travel)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Since coming into office in May 2016, my Department’s only use of the Government jet was when I travelled with the Taoiseach to the British Irish Council meeting in Cardiff on 25th November 2016. 
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665. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the use her Department has made of the Government jet in each of the years March 2011 to February 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54206/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Ministerial Travel)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): From the establishment of my Department in June 2011 to February 2016, my Department has used the Government jet twice. The jet was used on one occasion by Minister Fitzgerald in 2013 and once by Minister Reilly in 2015.
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666. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the photography costs for her Department in each year since March 2011 inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the list of occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used, in tabular form; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54222/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Details of the costs incurred on photography by my Department since March 2011 is set out in the table. Included in this table are 8 instances where the name of the photographer was not readily identifiable from the information contained in my Departments financial management system. Officials are going through the records to ascertain the names involved and I will revert to the Deputy in due course.
 Date Photograp...

667. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the use of external public relations firms employed by her Department in each year since March 2011; the list of uses of the external public relations firm; the internal department policy with regard to employing external groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54238/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The information requested is currently being collated. The information sought will be forwarded directly to the Deputy when available.
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