Update: Support for Children at Risk, 4th August 2015

4th August 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD


DÁIL QUESTION  addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for ORAL ANSWER  on 08/07/2015    

 To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which ready access and vital back up support remains available to children at risk with particular reference to children at risk of child poverty or in situations where the extent of vulnerability may lead to depression and/or self-harm; if he is in a position to assist voluntary bodies or agencies providing counselling or other support services for children or teenagers in these categories; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

                                                                                         Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

The Child and Family Agency, Tusla, provides funding to voluntary and community organisations providing relationship, child and bereavement counselling services. These services aim to support people to deal with difficulties they are experiencing in their lives. Tusla is spending €5.8m in 2015, on these services.

Tusla has also developed  Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service  (ACTS) which is a national specialised clinical service providing multidisciplinary consultation, assessment and focused interventions to young people who have high risk behaviours associated with complex clinical needs.

Tusla works closely with other care providers including the HSE, in respect of access to primary care services, child and adolescent mental health services, disability and other services.  Tusla and the HSE have in place, both, a Memorandum of Understanding and a Joint Protocol for inter-agency collaboration which underpins the provision of these services for children.  

 Responsibility for policy in relation to the treatment and support for young people with mental health problems and those requiring medical care as a result of self-harm rests with the Department of Health.  

 As part of the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020 (BOBF), the Department of Social Protection has identified child poverty as a cross-sectoral priority action for 2015. The target is to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level.  

There are a number of other areas of focus that support this response to child poverty.  Funding of more than a quarter of a billion euro is invested annually by my Department on early childhood care and education and after-school childcare programmes.  A number of these programmes are targeted at those on the lowest incomes.  This funding supports more than 100,000 children each year. In addition, in early 2015, I established an Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment in Early Years and After-School Care and Education.  This Inter-Departmental Group, which is tasked with setting out a range of options for future investment in early years and after-school childcare is currently finalising its report, which will be submitted to Government shortly.

My Department is also leading the implementation of the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme (2013-2016).  The ABC Programme is co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and will have a total funding allocation of up to €29.7 million.  The ABC Programme draws on best international practice to break the cycle of child poverty where it is most deeply entrenched, and improve the outcomes for children and young people and existing services.

My Department also provides targeted support for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people and this support is provided through a range of schemes totalling €49.93m of funding.  

Finally, the National Youth Strategy 2015 – 2020 which is nearing completion will have its basis in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futuresand in particular its youth-specific commitments. It will be a universal strategy for all young people and will include a particular focus on the needs of  young people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing the  poorest outcomes.

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