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The ISPCC welcomes the increased investment in Tusla in Budget 2018 which will enhance the protection and welfare of children across Ireland

10
Oct, 2017
 
The ISPCC welcomes the provision of an additional €40 million allocated to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, as part of Budget 2018. This brings the operating budget to €754 million.
 
It has been reported that the additional funding will be used to
 
• Recruit an additional 300 staff to the agency
• Address gaps in the out-of-hours service
• Support the introduction of mandatory reporting of child abuse (Children First Act implementation)
 
Interim CEO Caroline O’Sullivan said “Investing in child protection should be a national priority, and the investment of an additional €40 million today in Tusla is a really welcome step. Child protection and welfare benefits hugely from prevention work, and so we welcome these additional monies to help protect children.
 
“The ISPCC gives a cautious welcome to the news that gaps in out-of-hours services will be addressed. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has said that this is a movement towards 24-hour access to social work services, to include 24-hour telephone support,  additional social workers to work with the gardai and as previously announced, access for foster carers to out-of-hours support. While this is a step in the right direction, it is not a directly-accessible 24-hour social work service. The ISPCC is clear – and there is much evidence to support this, including the Special Rapporteur’s recent report on Section 12 powers – that a comprehensive out-of-hours social work service that is directly accessible to children and to families is essential to a robust child protection system. We look forward to working in partnership with the DCYA and Tusla to ensure the additional funds are used to address the gaps in the emergency supports available, as well as to enhance the preventative services, and to build directly-accessible responsive supports to enhance child protection on a 24-hour basis. 
 
“The ISPCC has campaigned on mandatory reporting for over a decade and, we are pleased that this has been prioritised in Budget 2018 so that Tusla can meet the demands associated with implementing this legislation.”
 
Other measures welcomed by the ISPCC in Budget 2018 include:
 
• the increased investment to address the housing and homelessness crisis with the extension of HAP scheme, additional social housing and an additional 18m for homeless services. It is essential that these schemes prioritise the needs of the over 3,000 children who are homeless in Ireland.
• The extension of the free pre-school year to ensure a full two-year allocation, and increase in the capitation rate payable to ECCE providers.
• The investment in over 1,000 SMA posts to support children with special educational needs.
• The measures announced to reduce the tax burden of VAT on charities. As members of the Charities Institute of Ireland, the ISPCC has been campaigning for this for a number of years. For organisations like the ISPCC which receive a small proportion of funding from government, this is extremely important news. It is an entirely bizarre situation that charities currently pay more than any other organisation for goods and services which are vatable, leaving them less money to spend on their charitable work. The cost to charities in Ireland has been estimated at approximately €40m per annum. This is an important step in compensating charities and we look forward to hearing the detail of this and how it will work to support charities.
 
The ISPCC congratulates Minister Zappone and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on ensuring that the protection and welfare of children and their families were prioritised in Budget 2018.