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February 2013 New Child and Family Support Agency Must Be More Than A Logo Switch
New Child and Family Support Agency Must Be More Than A Logo Switch
A symposium entitled ‘Embedding a Children’s Rights Approach into the new Child and Family Support Agency’ is being held today (27 February 2013) in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. The establishment of a Child and Family Support Agency is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionise the delivery of child protection, family support and other children’s services. This is a radical and important change, involving far more than simply switching logos at the top of payslips and headed paper. The design of the new agency will have a profound impact on services delivered to children and families for decades to come and will be one of the biggest tasks of the current government.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said:“Today is about kick-starting discussion on the new agency. There is no doubt that the agency has the potential to be a powerful vehicle for reform. There must be a transparent approach from the outset to ensure future accountability and buy-in from all stakeholders, including children and families themselves. Key to this is a commitment from Government to consult comprehensively on the draft legislation establishing the new agency. We have just passed a referendum on children but it will be an empty referendum if the new agency is not properly resourced to protect children and support families. A child-centred approach must be the starting point for the agency. This means treating all children equally, making decisions in their best interests and taking account of their views when making decisions about them.”
“The potential for the Child and Family Support Agency’s success is indisputable, helping to draw a line under past failings such as those so tragically outlined in the 2012 Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group. It is also vital that the agency starts life without the burden of the existing HSE budgetary deficit, and that it is given adequate resources to fulfil its statutory duties to children.”
Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “The failings of the child protection and welfare system in the past have consistently focused on a lack of collaboration between professionals in the interests of children and children’s voices not being heard. People are tired of hearing about the failings of the system. In the future we should be hearing about its success. A system whereby workers at the frontline commit to upholding children’s rights, through the introduction of a children’s rights charter to be adhered to in practice, coupled with all children’s services coming under the umbrella of one transparent and accountable agency, will be the true test of positive change.”
Noel Kelly, Chair of the Prevention and Early Intervention Network, said: “The Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN) welcomes the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency. This is an agency for all the children of Ireland and universalism must be its hallmark. Ensuring a prevention and early intervention approach within the design of the new agency will generate benefits for all children and families as well as reducing the numbers of families requiring intensive or specialist interventions. The new Prevention and Early Intervention Network website www.preventioninpractice.ie is also being launched today. It showcases the network's research, service and advocacy work, as well as being a valuable source of information about prevention and early intervention in Ireland.”
This symposium, which has been heavily over-subscribed, is the first opportunity to publicly discuss the new agency. It is jointly organised by the Children’s Rights Alliance, the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway and the Prevention and Early Intervention Network. Speakers and Chairs include:
- Paul Gilligan, Chair of the Children’s Rights Alliance
- Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD
- Gordon Jeyes, CEO Designate, Child and Family Support Agency
- Young People from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ Voice of Children in Care Implementation Group
- Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Child Law Expert
- Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway
- Jim Breslin, Secretary General, Department of Children and Youth Affairs
- Jennifer Gargan, Director, Empowering People in Care (EPIC)
- Catherine Ghent, Gallagher Shatter Solicitors
- Toby Wolfe, Start Strong and Prevention and Early Intervention Network
Today’s event aims to explore how children’s rights, including a prevention and early intervention approach, must be translated into the structures, governance, design and service delivery of the agency.