Minister Lenihan Launches Special Residential Services Board Annual Report
Minister for Children at the Department of Health and Children, Mr. Brian Lenihan, TD, today (18th October 2005) launched the Annual Report of the Special Residential Services Board (SRSB).
The Minister said that the Board and its Chief Executive and Staff were to be commended for the commitment and dedication that they had displayed in their work, particularly since the Board’s establishment on a statutory basis in November 2003 under Part 11 of the Children Act 2001.
The Minister said that the Report raised the issue of the need for alternative and preventative services. He said “In the health sector the expansion of the community based Youth Advocacy Programmes (YAP) targeted at young people and their families by the Health Service Executive this year was important. YAP had been piloted in Dublin North and Galway from 2002 and was being expanded to other areas of Dublin as well as Cork and Limerick. In addition the Meath project was being expanded to neighbouring counties.”
The Minister added that the importance of early intervention and prevention should be recognised in this context. He reported that 5 additional Springboard projects were being put in place by the Health Service Executive this year, bringing the overall national total to 27.
The Minister said that he was pleased that the service provided to the courts by the SRSB, including a 24 hour 7 day a week on-call service, in relation to placements was seen as being of particular value.
The Minister said the statistics compiled by the Board for the period of the report were significant:
55 young people accommodated in special care for non offenders (run by the Health Service Executive)
211 young people were provided with education and accommodation in children detention schools (run under the aegis of the Department of Education and Science).
“There is a common recognition”, Minister Lenihan said, “that the Children Act 2001 provides a progressive way of responding to the issue of troubled and troublesome children”. However, the Minister emphasised that legislation is but one element in the necessary response.
He went on to point out that implementing the law and delivery of services falls to three Government Departments and their agencies. This had led to practical difficulties in achieving effective delivery. “Although we have a sound statutory framework” the Minister continued “Minister Michael McDowell and myself agree that the structures for delivery are too fragmented and lacking cohesion”.
The Minister also said that he was considering the establishment of a Youth Justice Service which would be responsible for delivering a cross-departmental youth justice strategy. “Leadership and a common approach” the Minister stated “are needed”. Such a Service, he said, could have responsibility for overseeing responses to youth crime, including detention, and would join up the thinking and the operation.
Minister Lenihan said he hoped to bring proposals to Government in the near future to deal with this issue.