Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 15 November 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters

Rights-Based Care for People with Disabilities: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Bernard O'Regan:

I think the same as set out by Ms Murphy. It is really important that communication is at the closest point to the child and family. In many respects, when it is escalated through a system either to a chief officer or to Mr. Walsh or me, in a way, it is because people have reached intractable issues with which they need help. Our role primarily is to find some solution. There are very strong efforts to make sure that those working relationships at local level do continue and are at the forefront and the starting point.

The funding issues that were mentioned are challenging for both organisations. This year to date, the HSE has spent €37 million in supporting children in residential services - partly fully funding services and partly co-funding with Tusla. Between the two agencies, the State is committing very substantial moneys. Both agencies are challenged by a situation where they are very reliant on the private sector. We certainly share some ambition to see how we can maximise value for the State in the relationship, be it with the private sector or other sectors.

In terms of support for foster carers and flexibility around the use of moneys, we are very conscious of developing other services like home sharing services as part of the array of services on offer. I think I referred to this earlier. We do not want a situation to arise where it is all or nothing. There are lots of things in between. Tusla has a very good model underpinned by legislation around foster care. We are looking to enhance our home share services and build those kinds of models and shared care in order that there it is not a case of from home to residential but there are things in between that might serve children and families really well.