Written answers

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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164. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he has been contacted by any NGO, agency, organisation or charity expressing a concern about an increase or the potential for an increase in domestic violence, child suicide rates or alcoholism among youths during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown; and the details of such communication and correspondence. [35456/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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I can advise the Deputy that my Department has received contact from Alcohol Action Ireland in relation to their “Alcohol Action Ireland Operation Encompass” and a meeting has been arranged in the coming week to discuss this proposal and how it relates to supporting children who witness domestic violence during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

In addition, my Department was contacted by Barnardos in relation to a ‘snapshot’ review conducted to assess their intensive family support and early years services. The review identified high numbers of referrals to their services for issues related to domestic violence, mental health or addiction.

In relation to the issue of domestic violence in particular, the below table sets out the relevant correspondence received from NGOs during my tenure.

Name of organisation Date of correspondence Topic
Rape Crisis Network Ireland 28/07/2020 Impact Report on COVID-19 on rape crisis services
Barnardos 25/08/2020 Pre-Budget submission
Rape Crisis Network Ireland 22/09/2020 Pre-Budget submission
The Family Resource Centre, Inchicore (Domestic Violence Outreach) 24/09/2020 Service newsletter, including update about the Domestic Violence Outreach service during COVID-19
Safe Ireland 07/10/2020 Infrastructure for domestic violence services
Barnardos 09/10/2020 Domestic violence, mental health and addiction issues in family support services
Parentline 19/10/2020 Child to parent domestic violence

I would like to assure the Deputy that, as a critical service provider of essential frontline services for children and families, Tusla has been focused on ensuring continuity of supports and services during the current crisis. This requires a balance between the needs and best interests of the child with public health advice to keep children, families and frontline staff as safe as possible during the pandemic. As the current public health crisis evolves, Tusla continues to provide a vital social work and child welfare and protection services. My officials, and Tusla, will continue to work in collaboration with stakeholder organisations, service providers and relevant charities to identify, understand and mitigate the impact of the current public health crisis on vulnerable people.

I am also acutely conscious of the impact that the pandemic has had on young people and on the need to support them through the challenges they are currently facing. My Department has worked closely with youth sector representatives on the development of Covid-related guidance for the sector and will continue this engagement. It also continues to fund universal and targeted youth services to foster the wellbeing and resilience of young people and I have secured an additional €5 million for youth services for 2021.

In recent months, my Department has commissioned a consultation with young people undertaken by Spunout.ie to hear the experiences of young people on the impact of the pandemic and public health restrictions. My Department will also shortly partner with the ESRI to conduct COVID-specific surveys of participants in the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study to specifically capture the recent and unprecedented experiences of children and young people as a result of the pandemic. The findings of these consultations will be valuable as we look at ways to minimise the negative impact of the restrictions and provide the best supports to young people.

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