PQ: Children in Care (Role of HSE)

Tue, November 12, 2013

410. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which the Health Service Executive reports to her Department in cases where children are deemed to be at risk and in need of placement in care; the extent of the resources available to her in such circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

 Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of vulnerable children in Ireland is vested in the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Social Workers are persons employed and designated by the HSE to implement its powers in this regard. The principles underlying this responsibility are outlined in Child Care Act, 1991, as amended. My Department’s role is oversight of effective use of resources vis-a-vis statutory responsibilities.

The HSE publishes a range of reports on performance indicators on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Among these indicators is information relating to referral and assessment processes. The HSE also provides an annual Review of Adequacy Report under Section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991. The Annual Service planning process also provides an opportunity to set out service priorities in the context of available resources. In addition, information is provided to me by the HSE on specific issues as required or to inform me of policy or legislative issues arising in the services.

The commitment to establish a new Child and Family Support Agency is at the heart of the Government’s reform of child and family services. The new Agency will assume responsibility for Children and Family Services, currently provided by the HSE, and the Family Support Agency. It will have a workforce of approximately 4,000 staff, and a combined existing budget of over €590 million. The Agency will be headed by Gordon Jeyes, as the Chief Executive designate, who will be supported by a senior management team. The Child and Family Agency Bill sets out detailed processes to support planning and reporting by the new Agency.