“This Bill represents an essential response to recent reports on child protection failings, including inconsistency and fragmentation in service provision. Child and family services will now be the sole focus of a single dedicated agency, with its own dedicated management team and Board, reporting to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. This represents one of the biggest public sector reforms being undertaken by Government,” said Fitzgerald.
The Agency will bring together key services which play a role in the welfare of children and families including;
· children and family services currently operated by the HSE,
· the Family Support Agency,
· the National Educational Welfare Board.
The establishment of the Agency is one of the largest and most ambitious public sector reforms being undertaken by this Government. It will involve the bringing together of over 4,000 staff and a budget of over €500 million from three existing bodies.
Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that significant work has already been undertaken at an operational and logistical level to prepare for the establishment of the Agency, including the recruitment of a senior management team and the disaggregation of budgets.
“The legislation is comprehensive and provides for the subsuming of functions from three separate agencies. The Bill reassigns, under law, the sensitive and complex legal responsibilities which arise in relation to the care and protection of children and the promotion of their welfare,” explained Fitzgerald.
“This is about delivering caring, effective and efficient services for children in a consistent manner with clear standards and accountability. The Agency will seek to work with families and communities right across the country as well as here locally in Clondalkin and Lucan so as to identify early where additional support is required to improve outcomes for children. We have a decades-long legacy of failure in child protection and the development of the Agency represents a key element in changing that legacy in the interests of children,” concluded Fitzgerald.
The Agency will operate within a strong framework of public accountability and create direct lines of accountability from area manager to CEO. The CEO Designate of the Child and Family Agency is Gordon Jeyes and children rights advocate Nora Gibbons has agreed to Chair its Board.