Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children, Robert Troy TD, has expressed his disappointment that the Minister for Children has failed to give a detailed timescale for the implementation of two keys pieces of legislation in the Department of Children; the Child and Family Support Agency and Children’s First Legislation.
Deputy Troy commented: “I am deeply concerned about the ability of the Department of Children to advance these key pieces of legislation given the length of time it has taken to bring forward the Childcare Amendment Bill 2013, which is a short, uncomplicated technical amending piece of legislation.
“The Department was first notified by the HSE almost 12 months ago of the need to make these amendments and Fianna Fáil has supported the bill. It has the potential to reduce needless bureaucracy and administration by eliminating the requirement to go to court every eight days to renew interim care orders.
“However, the failure to introduce this legislation in the past number of months has resulted in an unnecessary drain on scare resources.”
Deputy Troy cited the recent HIQA report which revealed that 35% of children in foster care were without a social worker, he also asserted that children in foster care can remain in housing that had not been approved by the foster care committee.
“Serious issues are going undetected because of the lack of social workers. This is incomprehensible and needs to change.
“The delay in bringing forward this legislation has also resulted in increased legal fees. Only 2 weeks ago it was reported that in region of €30 million of scare resources was spent on legal fees last year. This leads to the perception that the system is more about keeping lawyers in jobs than protecting children.
“What savings would have been made if the Childcare Amendment Bill had been passed earlier? I have asked Minister Fitzgerald to disclose what percentage of the 2012 legal fees was used in bringing lawyers back to court every 8 days to secure interim care orders?
“I hope Minister Fitzgerald learns the lesson from the delay in implementing the Childcare Amendment Bill and prioritises the legislation for the Child and Family Support Agency and Children’s First Bill.