Tough times ahead - Fitzgerald

Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 01:00

“Very tough decisions” would have to be made in December’s budget and no department would be immune, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said today.

However, Ms Fitzgerald wanted to ensure the “very best budgetary decisions in terms of children and families” and would be “fighting their corner”.

She was speaking at the ten year anniversary of the the Family Support Agency which will fall under the remit of the new Child and Family Support Agency in 2013.

Asked about potential cuts to programmes funded by the agency, she said: “I accept that agencies and organisations need quality funding …but its about doing thing differently and about a reform agenda”.

She acknowledged that all the organisations under the agency were facing “tough times in delivery of services” while it was also a “challenging time for families and communities.”

There were “even tougher times” and “hard decisions”ahead, she said.

The Family Support Agency would play a “central role” in the new agency, she said.

The programmes funded by the  agency “offer effective, community-based family support structures that are well placed to complement the other services and structures that will fall under the remit of the new Child and Family Support Agency in 2013”, family support agency chief executive Billy O’Dea said.

Over the past decade the agency had pioneered the delivery of locally based family support services through the funding of the 106 Family Resource Centre Programmes and accredited counselling, he said.

“Some of the early intervention approaches offered through our programmes help families to cope with pressures. This can stop the spiral of multiple, complex family problems,” said Mr O’Dea.

The gathering was also addressed by President Michael D Higgins who described unemployment as “the great scandal” in Europe.

Mr Higgins said if children were valued they “should make sure they are not instruments of poverty”.

The focus on children marked an “important step in our collective national effort” as State and church have let children down in the past, he said.

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