€26m extra allocated to Child and Family Agency
The new Child and Family Agency, Tusla, which is responsible for the most vulnerable children in the State, is to get a budget of €625m next year, a rise of €26m.
Despite the rise, the agency remains under pressure in areas such as the allocation of social workers to many of the 20,000 children it is providing some social care to.
Minister for Children James Reilly, whose department received just over €1bn in total funding for services for next year, said that, since Tusla took over from the HSE, it has embarked on a programme of reform to improve the quality of service. The agency is getting €12.39m in its capital budget - an increase of €5.6m over the 2014 allocation to help meet the cost of its information technology upgrades.
"A key commitment of this Government was to end the use of the adult prison system for any young person under 18, and we are close to honouring that commitment with the completion of new state-of-the-art facilities at the children's detention centre in Oberstown. In 2015, I have secured a further €19m for this project, as well as an additional €1.8m to cover the costs of additional staff and costs associated with the new, larger facility," he added.
Other elements of the budget include the Early Childhood Care & Education Programme (ECCE), which provides a free year of pre-school care and education for 68,000 children and funding for youth services for around 380,000 young people to participate in a range of services and programmes.
"There is no doubt this will be another demanding year for my department...I intend to build on the hard work and effort invested by all those involved in working with children, both statutory and non-statutory organisations, in order to deliver on this Government's commitment to fundamentally reform the delivery of child and family services, " he added.