Press Release

Hanafin announces Major Review of Family Supports

Mary Hanafin T.D. Minister for Children today (27th Feb) announced a major review of family support services by the Department of Health and Children. Her announcement was made while addressing a national conference on ´Investing in Parenting´. Various family projects exist which are hugely successful, e.g. Community Mothers, Family Support Workers, Homestart, Lifestart, Teenage Parents, Springboard Project etc. The review will include consideration of aspects of family support services such as:

  • age groups targeted,
  • geographical spread,
  • co-ordination of services,
  • links with voluntary organisations,
  • gaps in the service.

The purpose of the review of family support services is to identify what works well and why, and will point the way to making these services more effective for families and their children. The review will build on the positive lessons learnt from the evaluation of the Springboard Family Support pilot projects, published in December last year, shows that family support works.

The Minister reiterated the Government´s commitment to children referring to the investment of €161m in child welfare and protection since they took office, of which €45m has been allocated this year alone.

Addressing the conference, the Minister reflected on the significant strategic developments in services for children and young people over the past eighteen months including:

  • The publication of the National Children´s Strategy and establishment of the National Children´s Office.
  • the publication of the Youth Homelessness Strategy.
  • The Children Act, 2001 and
  • the establishment of the Special residential Services Board to advise and improve co-ordination in relation to special residential care for children.

On referring to the importance of the Children Act, which deals with non-offending children with severe behavioural problems and children in trouble with the law, the Minister said “this legislation places a strong emphasis on early intervention and on keeping children with their families in their own communities. I am pressing the health, education and juvenile justice services to prioritise the development of community services for these children as alternatives to residential care.”

The Minister continued “Ensuring the right balance between family support, child protection and alternate care is essential as this style marries a preventative approach with a minimal need for intervention. This approach will support a better quality of life and more enjoyable childhood for all children living in Ireland.”

The Minister said the formal review of policy will underline the importance of an evidence-based approach to inform the development of supports and services for families and their children. This approach supports the National Goal in the National Children´s Strategy that “Children lives will be better understood; their lives will benefit from evaluation, research and information on their needs, rights and the effectiveness of services”. The Minister noted that the Best Health for Children report ´Investing in Parenthood – to achieve best health for children´ being launched at today´s conference also adopted this approach.