Written answers

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Child and Family Agency

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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550. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if his Department will reconsider the decision by Tusla not to apply the 4% increase which is being applied to all other Tusla grantees which is not being extended to area-based childhood programmes due to a legacy issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24544/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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The Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme is an area-based prevention and early intervention initiative which is delivered in 12 areas of significant socioeconomic disadvantage across the country through Tusla’s Prevention Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) services.

The ABC Programme works in partnership with families, practitioners, communities and national stakeholders to deliver better outcomes for children and families living in areas where poverty is deeply entrenched.

The ABC Programme was previously funded jointly by Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs from 2013 to 2018. My Department tasked Pobal and the Centre for Effective Services to manage the programme, with Pobal being responsible for governance and financial accountability.

Between 2013 and 2018, ABC organisations operated on three-year contracts with multi-annual budgets. During this time, Pobal gave approval for individual ABC organisations to carry over a certain amount of unspent funds, resulting in an increased yearly spend. In 2018, the ABC Programme transitioned to Tusla and since October of that year, it has operated as part of the wider Tusla PPFS programme.

Since transitioning to Tusla, the practice of the retention of unspent funds has been changed in line with public financial guidance. However, this long standing practice amongst some ABCs has resulted in a shortfall between annual spending and funding received from Tusla. This is due to timing issues and established practices that had existed in ABCs prior to the transition.

To address this shortfall, Tusla adjusted its PPFS budgets in 2021 to avoid the need for a reduction in funding. As a result, the 4% budget increase for community organisations in 2022, will not be extended to ABCs directly. Instead, this funding will go towards the overall ABC Programme budget to ensure the future viability of the programme going forward.

As an independent state agency, Tusla is responsible for the management and oversight of exchequer funding allocated to it, including funding provided to the ABC Programme. Tusla's annual accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General independently of my Department’s annual Appropriation Account. Accordingly, my Department does not direct Tusla on its day-to-day adherence to public financial procedures, nor would it be appropriate for it to do so. My officials regularly engage with Tusla regarding overall financial matters.

I greatly appreciate the value that the ABC Programme provides for children and families. I look forward to continued engagement with Tusla on prevention and early intervention issues in our local communities, including the 12 ABC areas.


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