Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
194. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains confident regarding the adequacy of resources available to her Department to meet in full the cost of services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7178/14]
The Revised Estimates for Public Services 2014 allocated gross funding to my Department of some €997 million which includes over €955 million in current funding and €42 million in capital funding. When Appropriations-in-Aid receipts of just over €22.8 million are taken into account, the net current funding allocated to my Department in 2014 is some €974.3 million. This level of funding (€997m) represents an increase of over €558 million on the 2013 Estimate of €439 million and the significant investment demonstrates that, while operating within difficult Budgetary constraints, this Government is strongly committed to delivering important reforms and service developments to support children and families.
I consider that the estimate provision for my Department will facilitate the delivery of a significant level of public services as well as a number of new policy measures that include the following. The establishment of the new Child and Family Agency took effect on 1 January 2014. This was a historic development and a significant milestone in the programme of this Government to fundamentally reform the delivery of services to vulnerable children and families. The level of funding allocated to the Agency is over €602m in current funding and €6.8m in capital spending. This resource allocation is for the continuing provision of services previously administered by the Health Service Executive, the National Educational Welfare Board and the Family Support Agency. The overall level of funding available, which is significant by any measurement, will help the agency to respond to demand and to the needs of clients. It will help to improve the level and quality of services and assist in responding to the historic legacy of failings highlighted in the various inquiry reports published in recent years. An additional €4 million was provided to support implementation of the Preschool Quality Agenda which seeks to support high standards through supporting the efforts of providers and their staff in delivering improved and more reliable quality; and to respond to concerns raised by parents. An increase of €1.5 million in funding was provided to address child poverty through the new Area Based Childhood (ABC) programme. This will bring to €4 million the State funding to be invested in this initiative in 2014. The total budget allocation for the programme over the period 2013 – 2016 is almost €30 million. €31m in capital funding is being made available to facilitate the continuation of construction work on the new Children Detention School facilities in Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin. The timeline for the project will see the first three residential units available in the third quarter of 2014 and will be prioritised for the transfer of 17 year old boys from adult prison facilities, currently in St Patrick`s Institution.
Other important areas being supported in 2014 are the free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which has a funding provision of €175 million. Some 4,300 preschool services are participating in the programme and approximately 68,000 children are currently benefiting from it. In addition, in excess of €50 million is also being made available to support the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services by the voluntary youth sector for all young people including those in disadvantaged communities.