New child and family agency will employ up to 4,000 staff
Legislation approved by Government, but no agreement over moving key staff to agency
Legislation to set up the Child and Family Agency, a cornerstone of the Government’s plans to improve services for children, was first promised last year.
The Government has approved legislation for a new agency which will take over responsibility for child protection services from the Health Service Executive over the coming months.
Up to 4,000 staff will be transferred to the new Child and Family Agency, which is being established following long-standing criticism over the HSE’s handling of child protection and social services.
However, some commentators have expressed concern that key professionals – such as child psychologists and public health nurses – may not end up transferring to the agency. Government sources last night said discussions were ongoing with some of these groupings.
Legislation for the agency is due to be published by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald shortly.
Legislation to set up the Child and Family Agency, a cornerstone of the Government’s plans to improve services for children, was first promised last year, but has yet to materialise, in part because of disagreements over staff transfers.
Documents obtained by The Irish Times show there has been serious internal opposition within the health service to the proposed changes as they apply to clinical psychologists. Critics say a failure to bring key professionals under the umbrella of the agency could lead to the same kind of weaknesses that characterised the HSE’s handling of child protection. Government officials were unable to say last night when the agency will be up and running, except to say at some stage over the “coming months”.
CHILD AND FAMILY AGENCY
l Child protection services currently operated by the HSE, including family support and alternative care services.
l Child and family-related services, including preschool inspections
l Taking on functions of the Family Support Agency, which funds programmes supporting parents and their children
and the National Educational Welfare Board , which promotes school attendance