Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions

Child and Family Agency

4:20 pm

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

For the Minister's information, at this morning's meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, I urged that we take the opportunity to engage with Norah Gibbons on the earliest date possible and we hope to do that over the next couple of weeks although we are heavily involved in addressing upcoming legislation with hearings on the heads of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill at the end of next week and the following week.

The board of the Family Support Agency will oversee transition to the new agency. The Minister indicates that 12 members are provided for but that a smaller number is anticipated for the child and family agency. I hope that it will not be much smaller. It would be appropriate to accommodate the experience gained by those who will serve for whatever period the board of the Family Support Agency remains in situ. I note the deadline for expressions of interest and hope that those who have been involved heretofore will be considered. I am particularly concerned about the family resource centres and their network and representation at national level, and again commend their particular interests to the Minister.

There are three parts to the child and family agency, the HSE child services, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board which has already come under the aegis of the Minister's Department. I am particularly concerned about the school completion programme. Cuts of 6.5% have been announced in the current and upcoming years, 2013 to 2016 I think. I note that Pobal was to undertake an analysis of the existing operational staffing arrangements with a view to providing advisory support to local managements in such matters and that it was intended that this work would commence shortly after Easter. Some time has passed since Easter and I wonder has that process got under way. Staff are employed in various roles in the school completion programme which is to help young people to remain in school and complete second level. Can the Minister indicate whether the process to be undertaken by Pobal has got under way and can she give any hope or confirmation to the employees in the school completion programme that they will still be employed in September?


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