To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of dedicated child support workers appointed on a local authority by local authority basis to assist homeless families; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My Department and Tusla are working to provide supports for families in emergency accommodation in order to mitigate the challenges faced by parents and children in this situation.
As the State agency established to promote the welfare of children, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is committed to supporting children, parents and communities in dealing with the impact of homelessness on their lives. The short and long term effects of homelessness on children are well documented. While Tusla does not have a direct role in the provision of housing or accommodation for homeless families a range of services, from prevention and early intervention through to child welfare and protection, are provided.
Tusla works in partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and is a key partner on several interagency groups. Bilateral meetings between the DRHE and Tusla take place monthly. Tusla supports ‘one-stop-shop’ assessment centres being led by the DRHE. Tusla staff participate as required on issues involving child protection and welfare, educational welfare and Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV) services. The Tusla Homelessness Liaison Officer plays a key role in coordinating this multi-agency response.
While homelessness is not a reason for a referral to child protection services, there may be child protection or welfare concerns for some children. Tusla undertakes visits to Family Hubs and emergency accommodation providers to ensure that they are aware of their requirements under Children First and to clarify referral queries. Tusla has progressed plans for the linkage of Child and Family Support Networks (CFSNs) with family hubs and other homeless accommodation.
Tusla also works in partnership with a number of Family Resource Centres (FRCs) to provide dedicated services for families experiencing homelessness. Tusla has also supported the evening service at the Focus Ireland Coffee Shop, a service which includes a range of supports to homeless families, high quality food, and rooms for children to do homework supported by an educational tutor. Tusla also funds the work of two child support workers in Focus Ireland.
However, it is important to note that the needs of homeless families require a response from across Government and beyond. I have asked that Tusla provide further detail in regard to family support workers directly to the Deputy.
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