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State agency for children to be debated by Oireachtas

Three separate agencies are set to be taken into the Child and Family Agency.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE RECENTLY PUBLISHED Child and Family Agency Bill will be debated by an Oireachtas Committee later today a month after the designate board met for the first time.

The new agency will be one of the largest public bodies in the State with more than 4,000 employees and a budget of €570 million.

Three separate agencies are set to be taken into the Child and Family Agency which will assume responsibility for the sensitive and complex legal responsibilities involved with childcare and welfare.

Chairperson of the new agency Norah Gibbons recently met members of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Children and Youth Affairs to discuss the immediate future of the agency.

The progress on the establishment of the board has been welcomed by advocacy group Early Childhood Ireland who say however that legislative proposals must be backed up by investment.

They say that Ireland’s investment in early childhood is way below international standards at 0.4 per cent of GDP, far below the EU average of 1 per cent:

At this stage, it’s just not good enough to plead ‘No Budget’ when it comes to investing in our children, our most important natural resource and an investment for the future certainly worth making and something that will pay dividends for the whole of Irish society.

Amendments to the bill are set to be proposed and discussed at 5.15 pm by the committee with Children’s Minister Francis Fitzgerald due to be in attendance.

Read: Concern Ireland is ‘not far behind the US’ for obesity >

Read: Silent protest outside Dáil today over childrens’ cochlear implants funding >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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