234. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children enrolled in the ECCE programme in each of the years 2015 to 2017. (Question 44516/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - Early Childhood Care and Education Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As the Deputy will be aware, ECCE runs on a programme year from Sept to August. I have provided the relevant information on that basis in the table.
 Programme Year: Number of Registrations: 2014/15 66,762 2015/16 73,964 2016/17 120,601 
 ...

235. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the communication procedures for the opening and closing of crèches, child care and Montessori facilities in extreme weather situations whereby schools were closed by Government announcement but no information was provided regarding child care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44532/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - Child Care Services Administration)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information and advice was provided to childcare providers both on Sunday 15th and Monday 16th October. On Sunday the 15th of October at 19.41, an announcement regarding the closure of childcare facilities was released on the PIP Portal. The PIP Portal is an IT system that enables communication with all 4500 services funded by DCYA. Operated by Pobal, DCYAs funding and administration intermediary, PIP is used for all important c...

189. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the way in which the €1.5 million in additional funding for youth work services announced in budget 2018 will be allocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44150/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Youth Work Projects Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country. 
As the Deputy is aware, Budget 2018 has provided an addition...

190. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 1455 of 26 July 2017, if this report has been published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44151/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Departmental Reports)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I announced the Youth Employability Initiative in 2016. 28 youth projects have received grants under this Initiative to support programmes that target disadvantaged young people who are most at risk of unemployment and who are not in education, employment or training. The programmes, which are funded under the Dormant Accounts scheme, assisted over 1,000 young people aged 15 to 24 years build skills that will enhance their emp...

191. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the LGBTI+ youth strategy; when she expects to receive the final report on the strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44152/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Youth Strategy)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Programme for Government (2016) gives a commitment to develop a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Youth Strategy. 
I established an Oversight Committee with an Independent Chair, Ms Una Mullally, to oversee the development of the Strategy on 19 December 2016. The group includes cross-sectoral representation from relevant organisations, bodies and Government Departments/Agencies. A Youth Advisory Group also supports t...

192. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 621 and 625 of 10 October 2017, when a decision will be made in respect of the funding of a programme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44199/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Youth Services Funding)

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 administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to youn...

29. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether the subsidy levels under the single affordable childcare scheme are sufficient to account for the absence of increases to these levels in budget 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44019/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Care Costs)

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: My question is to ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether the subsidy levels under the single affordable childcare scheme are sufficient to account for the absence of increases to these levels in budget 2018, and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 ...

30. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extra efforts being taken to tackle youth poverty and child homelessness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43809/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Poverty)

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Question No. 30 is in the name of Deputy Denise Mitchell. Unfortunately, Deputy Mitchell cannot be here. Deputy Ó Laoghaire is taking the question. I am sure the House is okay with that.
 ...

31. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding that will be ring-fenced for the roll-out of mandatory reporting in 2018; her views on whether this will be sufficient; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44020/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: I ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding that will be ring-fenced for the roll-out of mandatory reporting in 2018, her views on whether this will be sufficient and to make a statement on the matter.
 ...

32. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the measures or initiatives being undertaken to ensure the retention of highly skilled social workers within the Child and Family Agency; and the extra resources which will be allocated to recruit more social workers. (Question 43810/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child and Family Agency Staff)

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: This follows neatly on from Deputy Anne Rabbitte’s last question. It relates to Tusla and the initiatives being undertaken to ensure, in particular, the retention of social workers, as well as the resources required to recruit more social workers. This is obviously a very important issue. I welcome the additional moneys for Tusla which was one of the priorities identified in Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission. I am glad that the Minister has secured additional fu...

33. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the way in which the additional financial resources apportioned to Tusla announced in budget 2018 will be deployed. (Question 43904/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child and Family Agency Funding)

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: As storm Ophelia was, unfortunately, quite hard on east Cork, Deputy Sean Sherlock is not able to be here. The question is very much related to the previous ones. It concerns the general way in which the additional financial resources apportioned to Tusla will be deployed.
 ...

34. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to set out the measures being taken to ensure child care services have the capacity to cope with the expansion of the free preschool year scheme as announced in budget 2018. (Question 43694/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Early Childhood Care and Education Funding)

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: Perhaps the Minister can comment on how she has dealt with some of the anomalies and gaps that exist in the free preschool year scheme.
 ...

35. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the 572 adult retrospective reports of abuse that were unallocated by Tusla in June 2017; and if the number of unallocated cases in this category has increased or decreased in the period since June 2017. (Question 43745/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Protection)

Deputy Clare Daly: The Minister told me in September that at the end of June, 572 retrospective abuse cases were awaiting allocation. Actions had been taken in respect of just 4% of those cases at that time. At that stage, 70% of cases had been live for at least two months. Does Tusla have any plans for a system-wide approach to change that? What is the status of it now? Are any efforts being made to clear the backlog?
 ...

36. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the resources in place to deal with allegations of child abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43440/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Abuse)

Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin: I am conscious that there is some overlap between my question and some previous questions. Many deal with Tusla, which underlines its important role and how important it is that we provide it with the necessary resources. I want to acknowledge that the Minister secured extra funding in the budget.
I wish to ask the Minister about the resources which are in place to deal with allegations of abuse of children and make a statement on the matter, in particular in light of ...

37. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether an increase in capitation payments for early childhood care and education, ECCE, providers of 7% will be sufficient in view of the chronic issues regarding pay and the viability of the sector. (Question 43771/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Care Services Staff)

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: I am asking the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for her views on whether a 7% increase in capitation payments for the early childhood care and education, ECCE, scheme providers will be sufficient in view of the chronic matters regarding pay and the viability of the sector. I ask against the backdrop of child care providers being expected to complete an ever-increasing amount of paperwork in a continually changing sector. The 7% increase in the budget is welcome, b...

38. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on dramatically reducing the cost of child care to parents while also increasing wages of workers in the child care sector; the steps she will take to achieve this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43757/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Care Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The cost of childcare continues to be a major issue facing parents in Ireland. We remain the most expensive in the OECD. To alleviate some of this financial burden, I introduced a range of supports in September to make childcare more affordable for families, including a new universal subsidy for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years of age, or until they are eligible for ECCE. This amounts to as much as €80 a month o...

39. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of referrals made to Tusla across all abuse categories in each of the years 2011 to 2016; the procedures that are followed following a referral to Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43445/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child and Family Agency Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In 2016 there was a total of 47,630 referrals made to Tusla. Following Tusla’s initial review of each referral, just over 19,000 were deemed to be a concern about abuse. These referrals relate to physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect, and multiple referrals can relate to the same child. 
 Last year, thirty-six per cent of referrals were for emotional abuse, sixteen per cent for sexual abuse, twenty-three per cent for ...

40. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of her proposal to provide sectoral payscales for those working in community childcare settings. (Question 43465/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Early Years Sector)

Deputy Katherine Zappone: I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 51 together.
Child care workers play a critical role in delivering high quality child care services and they deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this. My Department acknowledges that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector and can lead to difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. 
My Department is somewhat constrained in what it can do in this regard as it is not an employer of child care worker...

41. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the response to children at risk in the home or in care, having particular regard to the need to ensure early intervention and follow up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43735/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Protection)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. 
Tusla provides a continuum of prevention and early intervention care supports to children and their families who are experiencing difficulties. Approximately 60% of all referrals to Tusla require this type of support. 
Tusla has made real progress in dealing with cases where children, ...

42. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she is satisfied that the funding increase afforded to Tusla in budget 2018 will improve the current functioning within Tusla with regard to its child protection policy and with regard to operations of family resource centres throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43743/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child and Family Agency Funding)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The Minister for Finance announced €40.6 million extra for Tusla in the budget. Presumably the vast majority of this increased funding will be swallowed up by the effects of the introduction of mandatory reporting of child abuse concerns from January onwards. How much additional funding in reality will be made available to improve the fulfilment of Tusla’s child protection policy? In particular, does the Minister, Deputy Zappone, believe that Tusla is adequately funded to...

43. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she will take to address the shortage in foster carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43789/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Foster Care Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): We need a regular supply of foster carers to provide a quality service for children. A small number of areas have problems in recruiting enough local foster carers. Other areas have good availability, but not all foster carers will have the skills needed for children with more complex needs. 
Foster carers are acknowledged as the backbone of our child care services, looking after 92% of children in care. This compares with 74...

44. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the specific programmes her Department and Tusla have in place to assist parents and children within the emergency accommodation system while they await being housed in view of the increase in the numbers of children in emergency accommodation. (Question 43712/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Homeless Persons Supports)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 65 together.
I am committed to helping children and families as part of a whole-of-Government response to the problem of homelessness. While statutory responsibility for the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities, and responsibility for the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding rests wit...

45. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to assist stay at home parents; and her views on whether these parents were not affected positively in the recent budget. (Question 43711/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Family Support Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am committed to the provision of childcare options for families that respect parental choice and reflect international evidence on how to attain the best outcomes for children. 
The Government has provided additional support for parents who choose to care for their children at home by increasing the Home Carer Tax Credit to €1,200 per year in Budget 2018. Previous provisions for maternity benefit, parental leave and the recen...

46. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans her to protect descendants of illegally adopted persons who remain unaware of their adoption status; and if she plans to widen the search for illegal adoptees in order to inform them that their medical records may be inaccurate. (Question 43744/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Adoption Records Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The term ‘illegal adoption’ is used to cover a wide range of situations and actions including the incorrect registration of a birth. Such persons can currently seek information and assistance from the Adoption Authority of Ireland, Tusla and a number of accredited bodies. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 will for the first time, provide a statutory basis for the provision of information related to both past and...

47. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the closure of a centre (details supplied); her views on whether the closure of such a facility would impact on the programme for Government commitment to tackle child poverty by increasing community based early intervention programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43752/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Youth Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 72 together.
I was advised two weeks ago that a decision had been taken by the board of the management company operating Brookfield Youth and Community Centre to cease operations with immediate effect. I was not provided with advance notice of the closure but I believe that the Centre’s closure was not as a result of funding issues. 
I am anxious to ensure that the services being operated...