Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Family Support Services.
Joe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
This matter relates to the Hill Street family resource centre and the threat to its existence. Today, five staff in the centre were put on protective notice. There is a need for a commitment of €250,000 annually to keep the centre running.
The centre provides services to 125 families with children aged up to five years of age in the north-east inner city. A public meeting is planned for 9 June as a last ditch attempt to garner public support for action to preserve the centre. Time is running out because the funding has run out.
The centre was established on the basis of what was called the integrated services process. The idea was that a resource in an area, particularly a disadvantaged area, would be taken up by multi-agency groups and used for the benefit of the local people. In this case, it was largely the local authority, the health board, which is now the Health Service Executive, and the Department of Education and Science. The Garda and the probation and welfare service were also involved. It provided a marvellous resource for young children and their parents in terms of support and intervention services and information. It was exactly what was needed in the area.
The funding was provided on an ad hoc basis from the beginning. The problem arose when RAPID was initiated in 2001. It promised a great deal but it also meant the existing sources of funding were eroded. Nothing transpired from the promises from RAPID in 2002 and 2003. A crisis was reached in 2004. There is no mainstream source of funding and no means of sustaining existing services.
Urgent action and commitment are required from the Government. This is a physical resource that includes buildings, a playground and other facilities that have been taken on by the community and the multi-agency services. The HSE is now prepared to be the lead agency if the funding is forthcoming. However, without a commitment to long-term funding it is certain that this centre will close. It would be a terrible shame if a necessary facility such as this should cease to exist. The families will be disadvantaged by it, not to mention the staff who will lose their jobs. This centre represents the type of integrated initiative that has major benefits for a disadvantaged area.
I urge the Minister to offer us succour by stating that he is prepared to provide long-term funding, that the funding will be mainstreamed and that the crisis threatening the closure of the Hill Street family resource centre will be averted.