30 October 2012

Fitzgerald & President Higgins Pay Tribute to Work of Clondalkin’s Family Support Services

Minister says Children’s Referendum will re-affirm and underpin the continuing development of early-intervention and family support services
France Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs joined President Michael D. Higgins to celebrate 10 years of the Family Support Agency at an event in Croke Park in Dublin. The Minister addressed the event on the importance of the upcoming Children’s Referendum to the future development of child protection and family support in Ireland and paid special tribute to the ongoing work carried out in Clondalkin by counselling services, including Accord and The Beacon of Light, and by the Quarryvale Family Support Agency.

The Minister stated: “Protecting children and supporting families are simply two sides of the same coin. If you want to improve the protection and well-being of children, you start with the family.
The Minister commended the work of the Family Support Agency over the past 10 years including supporting the local organisations providing counselling services in Clondalkin and around the country and supporting the nationwide network of 106 Family Resource Centres including the Quarry Family Resource Centre.
She referred to the Family Resource Centre network as “unique model built on the involvement of local people in tackling local problems and challenges. In my own area in Clondalkin I see the huge impact that the counselling services from Newlands to Nielstown have in helping to support families through difficult times. The Quarryvale Family Resource Centre provides huge help and assistance to families and I will continue to support these organisations where I can.”

Commenting on the upcoming Children’s Referendum, the Minister said: “the proposed wording recognises that parents are the most important carers in their children’s lives and does not propose any change to Article 41 and the current constitutional recognition of the Family as the natural and fundamental unit of Society. 
“However we know that for a small number of children, what happens in their families can be a serious threat to the child's safety and welfare. This Referendum will seek to enhance the protection available to these children.
The Minister outlined that by providing constitutional provision for ‘proportionate responses’, this Referendum will re-affirm and underpin the continuing development of early-intervention and family support services in Ireland, which she said: “play a vital role in responding to child welfare concerns, with the objective of protecting children in the home and preventing children being taken into care at a later stage.
The Minister said that Family Resource Centres will continue to play an important role in the new Child and Family Support Agency and the development of integrated, community-based models for early intervention and family support, as envisaged in the Children’s Referendum.