Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Child Care Services
Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
Question 87: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the way she interacts with other Government Departments in order to ensure the evaluation of legislation which affects children from a child-focused perspective; if she will outline her role in the development and implementation of the child poverty strategy across the relevant organs of the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8008/12]
Frances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
My Department is charged with leading the development of harmonised policy and quality integrated service delivery to secure better outcomes for children and young people. The Department, as part of the deliberative process of Government, routinely contributes observations on proposals for legislation and any possible impacts on children and young people that are identified through the impact assessment and poverty proofing processes, undertaken in line with Cabinet Handbook.
The many dimensions to the well-being of children and young people require my Department to work across Government and with a wide range of stakeholders to promote the physical, emotional and economic well being of children and young people. Building strong collaborative relationships with Government departments to achieve these aims is a key objective in the Department’s Strategy Statement 2011-2014.
Tackling child poverty is a priority for Government and a goal of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007- 2016, coordinated by the Department of Social Protection. Children are more likely to be poor if they are living in lone parent households with low labour market participation and dependant on income support. The departments of Social Protection, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Education and Skills, are working to deliver a range of measures aimed at getting people back to work.
My Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection in a ‘whole of Government approach’ to tackling poverty in the population. The Department is represented on the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare established by the Minister for Social Protection to examine issues to do with the interactions of the tax and welfare systems so that they provide good incentives for parents to take up and remain in work and thereby contribute to the reduction of poverty and child poverty, in particular. As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, improving children’s outcomes is my primary objective. The development of the Children and Young People’s Policy Framework, 2012 -2017, as the overarching framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State, is an important initiative for cross departmental collaboration to secure this objective. Early childhood care and education programmes, in particular those that are aimed at low income families, are priorities to enhance children’s opportunities for social and educational development and to support parents undertaking training and participating in employment. The network of 107 family resource centres that are funded by the Family Support Agency, under the remit of my Department have an important role in this regard. These programmes and the results of pilot projects to enhance children’s development in Tallaght, Northside and Ballymun, which are jointly funded by my Department with a philanthropic organisation, will inform the Government’s plans to develop a new area based approach to child poverty.
My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of the new Child and Family Support Agency.