Thursday, January 30th 2014
- Launch of the single dedicated Child and Family Agency represents a significant reform ensuring a more cohesive delivery of services.
Establishing a single Child and Family Agency, which will be responsible for child protection services, family support services and educational welfare services, is a significant reform. We are moving from a situation where these services were spread across the HSE and other bodies, to one where they are under the remit of a single body. This will ensure a more cohesive delivery of services in the best interests of children and families.
Launching a new Child and Family Agency has been one of the largest and most ambitious reforms undertaken by this Government. Over 4,000 staff and a budget of over €600 million from three existing bodies have been brought under the umbrella of this new single agency. This will eliminate duplication and fragmentation and achieve consistency in the delivery of services.
For too many years we have heard of shortcomings in child protection procedures, with 29 major reports detailing these failings. At-risk and vulnerable children were not given access to coordinated and effective interventions; instead they were left to fall through gaps which were caused because multiple agencies were involved in service delivery. Having one single agency in place will help to ensure that the delivery of services to those children will be coordinated and effective.
The Child and Family Agency will also have responsibility for pre-school inspection services. This will be a welcome comfort for many parents who rely on pre-schools. It will help to deliver a consistency of service and ensure that pre-schools are meeting the required standards. Having a single statutory agency in place to inspect pre-school services is also in the interests of the vast majority of pre-school operators and their staff, as it will allow them to show that they are delivering a service that parents can trust and rely upon.
I would like to commend Fitzgerald and her Department for establishing the new Child and Family Agency. This was a very large undertaking and it has achieved a reconfiguration of services that will operate in the interests of both children and families. As Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children I have had direct dealings with the Chief Executive of the Child and Family Agency, Gordon Jeyes. I am confident that he and his team will demand and deliver for children the best service our country can give.