Written answers

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Department of Health

Family Support Services

9:00 pm

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 101: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the establishment of the child and family support agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8071/12]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I established the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency in September 2011 under the chairmanship of Ms Maureen Lynott.

The Task Force 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. A dedicated new budget sub-head was established for the first time in the HSE Vote, in preparation for the planned establishment of the Agency in 2013. A process is currently underway in conjunction with the HSE to further review and refine the detailed components of this sub-head.

I am firmly committed to the transformation of Ireland’s child protection and welfare services. Central to this is delivering transparent and accountable management and budgeting. The establishment for the first time of a dedicated budget sub-head within the HSE Vote for children and families is an important part of the ongoing ‘change agenda’, which is aimed at strengthening organisation capacity, business processes and systems, and will pave the way for the transition to the new Child and Family Support Agency in 2013. Management of these services will be led by the National Director (Mr Gordon Jeyes) who already has a very close working relationship with me and my Department. These developments are an integral part of preparations for the new stand alone Agency.

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 legislature provision. I would envisage tabling legislation before the House later this year to provide for the Agency’s setting up in 2013.

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