Wednesday, 10 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
274. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has received a report from the Mid-Western Health Board which states that the amount of reported child abuse has almost doubled in the Mid-Western Health Board area over the past decade; and the resources he will make available to the health board to deal with the problem. [12343/00]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Ms Hanafin): I assume that the report that the Deputy is referring to is the Mid-Western Health Board's 1998 Annual Review of the Child Care and Family Support Services. The Deputy should note that according to the report, while the number of reported cases has increased from 407 to 803 between 1990 and 1998, the number of confirmed cases has dropped by 12% over the same period.
The rise in the number of reported cases is part of a national trend which has arisen due to a number of factors. These include greater public awareness arising from high profile reports of child abuse cases such as the Kilkenny incest investigation and the Madonna House inquiry. It is anticipated that the implementation of the Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998, may lead to a further increase in the number of reported cases of child abuse.
As the Deputy will be aware Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children have been issued and additional funding has been made available to all the health boards to facilitate their implementation. Since 1997 approximately £2.3 million in additional funding has been allocated to the Mid-Western  Health Board to strengthen and further develop child care and family support services.
Resourcing decisions are made against the background of regular contacts between officials of my Department and officials of the health board. As a result of this the allocation for 2000 includes funding given specifically for the implementation of the Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. It will be used for staff training, the further development of child protection services, establishment of a child protection notification system and the strengthening of the child protection investigation procedures.
In addition, extra capital resources are being allocated in the national development plan for investment in child care and family support services. Indicative figures for capital funding to be provided under the national development plan have issued to health boards and the details are being worked out between the health boards and my Department.
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