Written answers

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Family Resource Centres

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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516. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs how he will ensure the retention of the national aspect of the family resource centre programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46493/15]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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517. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs how he is ensuring that the operational funding for the national family resource centre programme is excluded from the commissioning process and that commissioning for community services will be reconsidered given the new EU directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46494/15]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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518. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs how he will ensure that all family resource centre projects have sufficient core funding to employ three full-time equivalent staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46495/15]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 516 to 518, inclusive, together.

There are currently 109 communities supported through the Family Resource Centre Programme which is funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The Family Resource Centre Programme is a national programme with its own dedicated budget. Tusla provides core funding to Family Resource Centres to cover the employment of two to three members of staff and some overhead costs. In 2015, Tusla provided €13.09m in funding for the Family Resource Centre Programme.

Family Resource Centres (FRCs) are front-line services rooted in the communities they serve. Acting as a focal point within their communities, Family Resource Centres provide a holistic service of child, family and community support and advocacy to all children and families in their communities. While Family Resource Centres operate an open-door policy and provide many services and development opportunities at a universal level, they also proactively target specific cohorts within their communities.

Tusla fully appreciates the role that Family Resource Centres play in offering early intervention support to families in difficulty. The Agency also recognises the benefits that additional staffing resources can bring to a Family Resource Centre and this is an item under review as Tusla’s budget allocations for 2016 are currently under consideration.

The concerns of some service providers in regard to Tusla’s plan to introduce commissioning, and the requirements of the new European Union Directive on Public Procurement (2014/24/EU) have recently been highlighted to me. Tusla has advised that it does not envisage that the new European Union Directive on Public Procurement (2014/24/EU) will have any impact on the operational funding available to the National Family Resource Centre Programme.

With regard to commissioning for Family Resource Services, the aim of Tusla’s Commissioning Strategy is to target services not currently available in Family Resource Centre areas and to procure these services by way of a separate budget established for this purpose.

Tusla is currently developing plans for the introduction of its commissioning approach. It will engage closely with stakeholders in this regard and will provide the necessary guidance and advice.

Tusla is committed to a partnership approach whereby it will engage with other statutory partners and respect the unique role of community and voluntary organisations, including small scale providers to ensure that there is full engagement with all stakeholders at each stage of the process..

As the Deputy will be aware, I announced a significant increase in the funding allocation to Tusla for this year. Tusla has available to it some €676 million in funding, representing an increase of €38 million over 2015. This increase in funding will allow Tusla to address critical shortcomings such as the number of children and families awaiting services.

The precise level of funding to be provided to Family Support Centres for this year has been considered by Tusla in developing its Business Plan for 2016, which has been submitted to me for consideration.

The Government, since its establishment, has attached particular priority to supporting vulnerable children and families and the significant increase in funding being made available to Tusla this year represents further evidence of our delivery on this ambition.

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