Family Support Agency
The Family Support Agency was established by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs in 2003. It transferred to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2010 and to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2011 on this Department’s establishment.
The functions of the Family Support Agency (FSA) are set out in the Family Support Agency Act, 2001. The main services provided are:
- the Family Resource Centre Programme (FRC Programme).
- the Scheme of Grants to Voluntary Organisations providing Marriage, Child and Bereavement Counselling Services.
The Family Support Agency Board
The Family Support Agency Act (2001) states that that the Board of the Family Support Agency should consist of a maximum of twelve members, including the Chairperson. The Board currently has a full complement of 12 members. Members have experience and expertise in fields such as family mediation, the Family Resource Centre (FRC) Programme, counselling, research, and family law.
Family and Community Services Resource Centre (FRC) Programme
Funding of over €23.5 million has been provided to the Family Support Agency for 2013. This includes a dedicated provision of over €14 million for the Family Resource Centre Programme in 2013.
The aim of the Family Resource Centre Programme is to combat disadvantage and improve the functioning of the family unit. The Programme emphasises involving local communities in tackling the problems they face, and creating successful partnerships between voluntary and statutory agencies at community level. FRCs involve people from marginalised groups and areas of disadvantage at all levels of the organisation, including on their voluntary management committees. There are 106 FRCs throughout the country, providing key services such as:
- Information, advice and support for groups and families at local level.
- Assistance to community groups (such as training and the shared use of facilities).
- Education courses and training opportunities.
- Childcare facilities for those attending courses provided by the FRC.
- After-school clubs
FRCs have a broad range of involvement with children and young people and work closely with many local schools. The range of interventions include early childhood care and education, initiatives to retain children and young people in school, breakfast clubs, homework clubs, youth cafés, community based youth work, facilities and services for young people, work with particular target groups of vulnerable young people and work on issues of particular concern/risk to young people e.g. alcohol and drugs prevention etc.
Scheme of Grants to voluntary organisations providing marriage, child and bereavement counselling services
The Agency provides funding to voluntary and community organisations providing marriage, relationship, child and bereavement counselling services. These services aim to support people deal with difficulties they are experiencing in their relationships, to help children whose lives have been affected by parental separation and to support families who have experienced the death of a family member.
Some 600 organisations are funded by the Family Support Agency each year, including 28 major organisations that have been identified for multi-annual funding. The Family Support Agency is providing funding totalling over €8 million in 2013 for this initiative.
Future of the Family Support Agency
In line with the programme for Government, the Family Support Agency together with the programmes that it administers will be merged with the new Child and Family Support Agency on its establishment.
The Government has given approval to the drafting of a Bill to establish the Agency and it has agreed to the priority drafting of this Bill. The necessary legislative and organisational preparations are being prioritised so that the Agency can be established as soon as possible.
The new Agency will build on the excellent work undertaken by the Family Support Agency over the last decade, and a community based approach will form an integral part of its work.
Find out more at www.fsa.ie