THE NEW child and family agency will provide a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to radically overhaul welfare services for children, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Mr Kenny and Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday formally launched the new body, which is made up of 4,000 staff and has a budget of over €600m.
The agency will provide key services to some of the country's most vulnerable children who are dealing with addiction, family and sexual issues.
The move represents the first time that child protection and welfare services will be together under one dedicated agency.
Mr Kenny said that setting up the agency "joins dots and brings a new conviction about what it is we must do here. . . the protection of children."
"Our society must be one which cherishes, which nourishes and which protects its children, and that's one of the main reasons for the setting up of this agency," he said.
"How many times have we heard in the last 20 years, if somebody had listened something might have been different," he added.
The agency will be led by Gordon Jeyes, who has served as the HSE National Director of Child and Family services.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the agency would make a big difference to "children in crisis and families in need of support".
"This is critical. What's been examined in previous reports, the failings of the State – has been about a lack of coordination of services. This is bringing the services under one roof – critical services of children," she added.