Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee of Health and Children, Jerry Buttimer, has said the establishment of the new Child and Family Support Agency next year will result in far-reaching reform of child protection and family support services.
Deputy Buttimer was speaking following the recent approval by Cabinet of the drafting of legislation to establish the new Agency, as well as the publication by the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, of the Final Report of the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency.
“For the first time in the history of the State, a Ministry dedicated solely to the welfare of our children has been put in place. This signals the importance this Government places on protecting our children and ensuring that the needs of all of our young people are met.
“The Child and Family Support Agency, to be set up in 2013, will revolutionise the way in which child and family supports are delivered in the State. A more streamlined approach to service provision is being adopted which will bring all providers together for the first time, ensuring that the child remains the focus throughout.
“Since coming to office, this Government has put a raft of measures in place to improve the lives of children. These range from asking our young people to make themselves heard by contributing to future policy initiatives, to ensuring that they are protected from harm by making it a criminal offence to withhold information from the Gardaí about the abuse, including sexual, or mistreatment of a child or vulnerable person.
“Minister Fitzgerald has restructured budgets for this year to allow for the recruitment of an additional 60 social workers so that the pressure on current staff can be alleviated. She is also cognisant of the fact that an effective service can only be delivered when mental health interventions, domestic and violent supports, public health nursing and a range of other services work together in a cooperative and cohesive way.
“By establishing direct lines of accountability, which will be the case with local services operating under one local manager, and by cutting back on bureaucracy, we will be better able to determine where resources are most needed, and allocate them accordingly.
“Too many governments have failed to respond to the needs of our children in the past. This Government is committed to putting systems in place that will radically reform the way we care for our children. The establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency is instrumental to this.”