Thursday, 22 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
59. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will detail her involvement in a roll-out of programmes for children in disadvantaged areas; the level of investment that will be made in this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15115/12]
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, improving children’s outcomes is my primary objective. Early childhood care and education programmes, in particular those that are aimed at low income families, are priorities to enhance children’s opportunities for social and educational development, to support parents and to help to break the inter-generational cycle of disadvantage. The network of 107 family resource centres that are funded by the Family Support Agency, under the remit of my Department have an important role in this regard.
This year some 66,000 children throughout the country will benefit from the free preschool year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, while some 26,000 children, in low income households, will benefit under the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which provides places in a range of childcare settings in local communities. Under the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, a further 2,800 places are available for children of parents in training programmes. In 2012, some €230 million in all will be provided by my Department for these schemes designed to support young children’s social and educational development.
My Department also supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services, including programmes for young people living in disadvantaged communities. In 2012, funding of €56.6 million will be invested in provision for youth. The programmes are delivered by the voluntary youth work sector. They include ‘out of school’ projects in non formal education settings and projects which aim to divert ‘at risk’ young people in disadvantaged areas from the dangers of substance misuse, as well as the provision of community centres, youth facilities and sports clubs which are used by some 535,000 young people throughout the country.
The National Educational Welfare Board, under the remit of my Department, as part of its responsibilities is charged with developing the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Liaison Scheme to address the needs of children who may experience difficulties in fully participating in education. These programmes and the results of pilot projects to enhance children’s development in Tallaght, Northside and Ballymun, which are jointly funded by my Department with a philanthropic organisation, will inform the Government’s plans to develop a new area based approach to child poverty. My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of the new Child and Family Support Agency.
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