Minister Brian Lenihan Announces New Office of the Minister for Children – Historic Development Which Places Children at the Heart of Government
Minister Brian Lenihan, TD today welcomed the Government’s decision to establish the Office of the Minister for Children, thereby bringing together the relevant staff working on the range of functions in the Departments of Health and Children; Justice Equality and Law Reform; and Education and Science.
The Minister said “This is a historic policy development which places children at the heart of Government. The National Children’s Strategy is, I believe, the strongest possible demonstration of this Government’s commitment to Ireland’s children. The decision to bring together these functions in my Office builds on the successes already achieved in the context of the National Children’s Strategy.”
The Minister explained that his responsibilities in the new Office within the Department of Health and Children will comprise the following functions
- The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (currently in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform);
- The programmes and activities of the National Children’s Office;
- Policy work on Child Protection (Department of Health and Children).
The Youth Justice Service of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Early Years Education functions of the Department of Education and Science will be co-located at the new Office.
The Minister emphasised that the purpose in bringing the various responsibilities together under one roof is to maximise the co-ordination of policies for children and young persons and to provide a strong focus at the highest level.
“I am delighted with the Government decision which will give children and young persons a stronger voice at the Cabinet table. I will now attend meetings of the Government regularly as part of my expanded responsibilities.”
The Minister remarked on the impressive levels of investment across a range of Government programmes relating to child protection, childcare and youth justice in recent years.
Remarking on the subsuming of the National Children’s Office in the Office of the Minister for Children the Minister said “One of the key strengths of the NCO to date has been its cross-cutting function which allowed it to work with Government Departments and other agencies in an innovative way. This work will be continued with a renewed focus in the context of a more comprehensive strategic framework and simpler administrative arrangements.”
The Minister also confirmed that the Government has approved the appointment of Ms. Sylda Langford as Director General of the Office of the Minister for Children. Ms. Langford, who is currently Assistant Secretary with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will transfer to the Department of Health and Children.