The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is firmly committed to the transformation of Ireland’s children and family services. At the heart of this reform programme is the creation of a new Child and Family Agency.
The establishment of the Agency will bring a dedicated focus to child protection, family support and other key children’s services for the first time in the history of the State. The Agency will be as broadly based as possible and will include services that (i) may prevent problems arising for a family in the first instance (ii) identify problems and provide supports at an early stage and (iii) assist children and families in managing serious problems requiring specialised interventions beyond their own resources.
When established, the Agency will constitute one of the largest public agencies in the State with staff of over 4,000 employees and a budget of over €550 million. It represents one of the largest and most ambitious areas of public sector reform currently underway.
Appointments to the Board of the Family Support Agency
In accordance with the Governments decision to widen the opportunity for board membership of State Bodies, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD, has invited expressions of interest from those interested in being appointed to the Board of the Family Support Agency. The Family Support Agency is one of the agencies which will be merged into the new Child and Family Agency. The new Family Support Agency Board will be expected to provide oversight and guidance in relation to the organisational preparations for the establishment of the Child and Family Agency.
Minister Fitzgerald established the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency in September 2011 in response to the Programme for Government commitment to “fundamentally reform the delivery of child protection services by removing child welfare and protection from the HSE and creating a dedicated Child Welfare and Protection Agency, reforming the model of service delivery and improving accountability to the Dáil”. The Task Force has concluded its work and its Report was published in July 2012.
Further information may be accessed by clicking on the links below:
Minister’s Fitzgerald’s speech at the publication of the Report of the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency
Press Release on the publication of the Report of the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency
Following a review of the recommendations of the Task Force, the Government has decided that from its establishment the Child and Family 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.
- 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.
- 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 are working jointly on an impact analysis of proposed future arrangements for the Community Psychology service as it relates to children and family services covered by the Child and Family Agency and to services provided by the HSE.
Minister Fitzgerald announced on 17th July 2012 that she had received Government approval for the drafting of Heads and a General Scheme of a Bill to establish the Child and Family Agency.
In November 2012 the Government approved the General Scheme and Heads of the Child and Family Agency Bill. Drafting of the legislation necessary to establish the Agency in line with the General Scheme is at an advanced stage. This will be a very comprehensive piece of legislation, as it needs to provide for the subsuming of the functions from three separate agencies and it will also assign responsibilities in relation to the care and protection of children and the promotion of their welfare. Subject to finalisation and approval by Government, it is intended to present the legislation to the Oireachtas during the current term.
A precise date for the establishment of the Agency will be set when consideration of the legislation by the Oireachtas has advanced. While the legislative process is under way, all necessary organisational preparations are continuing in parallel.
The preparations are being delivered by a Project Team led by the Programme Director, Gordon Jeyes and with participation from this Department, the NEWB, the FSA and HSE Children and Family services. The work is overseen by a high level group chaired by the Secretary General of this Department and including representatives of the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE and the incoming management team of the new Agency.
Minister Announces the Chair of the Child and Family Agency
As part of the preparatory work being done in advance of the formal establishment of the new Agency, the Government has approved, on Minister Fitzgerald’s recommendation, the appointment of Ms. Norah Gibbons as first Chairperson of the board of the Agency. The Government has also confirmed the name of the new body will be the 'Child & Family Agency'.
Read press release on the appointment
Minister Fitzgerald speaking in Dáil Éireann in response to Parliamentary Questions regarding the establishment of the Agency (13th February 2013)
Minister Fitzgerald’s remarks at the recent COFACE conference on Vulnerable Families (4th February 2013)