Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reasons for not including public health nurses in phase one of the new Child and Family Agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer T.D.
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 27/11/2012
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Ms. Fitzgerald):
The Government has formally decided to proceed with the drafting of a Bill to establish the Child and Family Support Agency. From its establishment the Child and Family Support Agency will have service responsibility for:
– Child welfare and protection services currently operated by the HSE including family support and alternative care services.
– Child and family related services for which the HSE currently has responsibility including pre-school inspections and domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services.
– Community-based psychology services (this does not encompass psychologists operating within acute, disability, mental health or other specialist settings). The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Health will work jointly on an impact analysis of proposed future arrangements for this service as they relate to children and family services covered by the Child and Family Support Agency and to services provided by the HSE.
– The Family Support Agency which currently operates as a separate body under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be merged into the new Agency.
– The National Educational Welfare Board which also currently operates as a separate body under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be merged into the new Agency.
The above decisions are in line with the recommendations made in the report of the Task Force on the Establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency which I published in July on this year. The Task Force also recommended that certain other services, including the children and family aspects of public health nursing, should transfer to the new Agency. I believe further work is required on the additional services to be considered for transition to the new agency. I am committed to working with the Minister for Health on the Task Force’s proposals in this regard. I share with the view of the Task Force that in order to achieve genuine improvements for children and families, the Agency must have a broader focus than child protection. The inclusion of both the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board functions will broaden the base of the organisation and bring on board a range of additional expertise and service infrastructure which highly is relevant to the children and their families at both universal and targeted level. My priority is to get these services well established and integrated as quickly as possible and to continue to examine in parallel, opportunities for further expansion of the Agency’s functions once it is up and running.