Press Release

Extra €46 million for 2002 underlines Government´s on-going commitment to child protection and welfare services

Minister for Children Mary Hanafin T.D. has today (Friday 4 January 2002) stated that the €46m additional investment in 2002 further underlines the Government´s commitment to the strengthening and developing of services for vulnerable children and children at risk and their families in line with the National Children´s Strategy. “Since this Government came into office that an additional €171.45m (£135m) in revenue has been allocated for these services”. Minister Hanafin said.

Foster Care €16.3m (£12.8m)

“Foster care is a vital part of alternative care service for children who cannot be looked after in their own homes. It provides nearly 3,500 children, in care, the opportunity to experience a normal family life. To improve the service the Government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Foster Care Foster Care – A Child Centred Partnership ” the Minister said.

In line with that commitment, the Minister introduced a new foster care payment scheme which ensures that each foster family receives €270.50 (£213.05) per week for a foster child under twelve and €296.50 (£233.51) for a child of twelve and over.

Residential and Special Care €6.4m (£5m)

€4.0m is being allocated for the provision of an additional 46 High Support and Special Care places. “The additional funding will enable a further 46 places to be provided so that children in need of high support or special residential care will receive the specialised support and therapy they need” the Minister stated.

An additional €1.3m has been allocated for existing mainstream residential care services to improve the staffing levels at a number of children´s residential centres and €1.1m towards special care arrangements for a small number of children in need of intensive care.

Springboard €6m (£4.7m)

Minister Hanafin stated that one of the most innovative initiatives in the area of family support services in recent times is the Springboard pilot projects. “The projects provide intensive locally based, accessible services to children and families most at risk, within identified communities throughout the country. The funding is being allocated to establish the current projects on a permanent basis and expand the initiative with a further four projects.” the Minister said.

Youth Homelessness €4.6m (£3.6m)

The Minister announced that a further €4.6m is being allocated for Youth Homelessness services, in addition to the €6.3m allocated in 2000. This is to enable the health boards to implement their Youth Homelessness Implementation Plans which they are obliged to draw up under the Government´s Youth Homelessness Strategy.

The Minister said that “In the last twelve months the Government has provided extra emergency and long-term accommodation and specialist provision for young homeless people in Dublin, Cork and Limerick”. She added that the “Government Strategy places particular emphasis on preventing young people becoming homeless in the first place and ensuring that young people who become homeless have the support and services to enable them to reintegrate into their families and community”.

Children Act 2001 €3.5m (£2.8m)

Minister Hanafin stated that one of the most significant pieces of legislation made in relation to children in recent years is the Children Act 2001 which was passed in 2001. Under the Act the health boards have statutory obligations in relation to children whose behaviour is such that it poses a real substantial risk to their health, safety, development or welfare An additional €3.5m is being allocated to health boards to strengthen and further develop the family welfare conferences, required under the Act, and intermediate and alternative care services for children who may be in need of special care and protection. “These services will be critically important” the Minister said “if we are to succeed in ensuring that special residential care is to be used only as a last resort for a child and even then for as short a period as possible”.

Family Support Services €3.1m (£2.4m)

In line with the policy outlined in the recently published National Health Strategy and to enable the health boards to further develop early intervention and family support services, in order to meet their statutory obligations, €3.1m has been allocated for family support services. The Minister said that the health boards are being asked to develop specific proposals to address the needs of the most vulnerable children who are at risk and their families, in the community.

National Children´s Strategy €1.8m (£1.4m)

An additional €1.8m has also been allocated to the National Children´s Office to enable it to become fully operational in 2002 and to undertake a number of major initiatives, in order to achieve further progress in the implementation of the National Children´s Strategy.

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors €1.6m (£1.3m)

Under the Refugee Act 1996 which came into operation in November 2000 the health boards have statutory obligations to provide child welfare services to unaccompanied asylum seekers, who are under the age of eighteen. A sum of €1.1m is being allocated to meet the costs of these services.

Children First €1.4m (£1.1m)

Additional funding is being provided to continue the implementation of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. These guidelines aim to encourage and help people to report child abuse concerns and to ensure a high quality response to all reports by the statutory authorities.

Adoption €0.76m (£0.6m)

An additional €0.380m is being provided in the area of inter-country adoption. This funding will further boost staffing to meet the continuing increases in demand for assessment services. The Minister was confident that the funding would consolidate recent improvements in waiting times for this services. Funding is also being provided for the reorganisation of the Adoption Board in line with the recommendations of a recent consultancy review.

Other Services €0.5m (£0.4m)

€0.5m is being allocated to the health boards to enable them to improve their child care management information systems.

Conclusion

“I would like to re-iterate that this additional funding demonstrates this Government´s determination to tackle the problems of social exclusion and provide the necessary services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children in our society and enable us to give all children a better quality of life”.