Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Family Support Services
Brendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
Question 67: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views that the child and family support agency will not be independent from the new Health Service Executive directorate; if she remains committed to establishing the agency independent from the main health service organisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8118/12]
Frances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
I established the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency in September 2011 in response to the Programme for Government commitment to “fundamentally reform the delivery of child protection services by removing child welfare and protection from the HSE and creating a dedicated Child Welfare and Protection Agency, reforming the model of service delivery and improving accountability to the Dáil”. The Task Force is chaired by Ms Maureen Lynott.
Child welfare and protection services are operating within the HSE during 2012 on a transitional basis pending the establishment of a dedicated, stand alone agency next year. Such a separate and dedicated agency remains a key part of the Government’s reform of children’s services and I intend to bring forward legislation to establish this Agency during the current year. The Task Force, which I have established, will advise my Department in regard to the necessary transition programme to establish a Child and Family Support Agency, and will base its work on best practice in child welfare, family support and public administration; consistent with the Government’s public sector reform agenda.
In relation to the Agency it has been asked to:
· Propose a vision and the principles to guide operations;
· Advise on the appropriate service responsibilities, and the delivery of same;
· Review existing financial, staffing and corporate resources; and propose a methodology for resource allocation;
· Propose an organisational design and operating child welfare and protection service model;
· Prepare a detailed implementation plan;
· Identify the main priorities and core relationships required;
· Oversee the implementation and monitor progress, pending establishment of the Agency.
The Task Force held its eleventh meeting earlier this month. Work is also being advanced through two sub-groups. I look forward to receiving the report of their work, which will inform preparations for the new Agency, including the drafting of legislation.
The Task Force has been asked to advise as to the appropriate service responsibilities of the new Agency. The Government has already decided that child welfare and protection services will transfer along with the Family Support Agency. The full remit of the Agency remains to be seen and the recommendations of the Task Force are awaited in this regard. Whatever the final make-up, there will of course be important linkages with the HSE regarding service provision of health services for children and young people, as necessary. However, the Agency will operate independently from the HSE, with its own management team and a reporting relationship to my Department as part of new and more accountable governance arrangements.
I am anxious to advance the full establishment of the Agency at as early a date as possible, subject to the work of the Task Force and necessary legislative provision. I would envisage tabling legislation before the House later this year to provide for the Agency’s setting up in 2013.