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Minister O’Gorman announces €121 million budget package

• €878m (an increase of €61m) for Tusla the Child & Family Agency 

o Address significant demand led cost pressures in residential care
o Support the community and voluntary sector funded by Tusla
o Reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker
o Provide care and protection through quality services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence
o Meet Government commitments to aiding unaccompanied minors

• €225m (an increase of €45m) for Direct Provision
o The €225m includes an increase of €100m from Exchequer funds allocated recently for 2020.
o Meet the increasing cost of providing accommodation for those seeking international protection.
o Support the process of bringing the accommodation provided to asylum seekers into compliance with the standards agreed with key stakeholders.
o Start planning the end to our current Direct Provision system as promised in the Programme for Government.

• €70m (an increase of €5m) for Youth Services
o Implement the new targeted youth funding scheme, UBU Your Place, Your Space and the universal Youth Services Grant Scheme.
o Support youth information centres, local youth clubs and other local, national and international initiatives.

• €638m (maintaining 2020 funding levels) for Childcare
o Meet the full year costs of additional hours of subsidised income-based childcare, which were introduced in September of this year.
o Utilise savings on ECCE to improve service delivery of programmes including the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) for children with a disability.
o Continue to support all childcare providers through access to the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme until at least end of March 2021 at an estimated cost of €60m.

• €5m (an increase of €1m) for Traveller and Roma Initiatives

• €6m (an increase of €2m) for Decision Support Services (DSS)

Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth has announced extra funding of some €121 million for Tusla, International Protection Seekers Accommodation, and Youth services, bringing the total investment by his Department to over €1.9 billion for 2021.

The significant additional funding will be targeted at improving outcomes for children, young people and their families as well as the promotion of equality and human rights. The funding also provides for the inclusion and integration of persons seeking international protection.

The allocation to Tusla will increase to a total of €878m in 2021, an increase of €61m over 2020 (€817m).

The extra funding will meet increasing demand for existing services including residential care, supporting the community and voluntary sector, services for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence, and unaccompanied minors. Detailed allocations will be be announced in due course taking account of greatest need and what is achievable within resources available.

The Minister said:

Since taking office, I have prioritised resourcing Tusla appropriately to fulfil its important work in protecting some of the most vulnerable children and families in our increasingly complex and diverse society. I am delighted to have secured the largest annual budget increase for Tusla since its establishment. I look forward to working with the Agency over the coming year as it continues to improve and develop the many services it provides to improve outcomes for its broad and diverse group of service users.

On expediting the transfer of unaccompanied children in Greece to Ireland, the Minister said:

I know that Irish people want to see us playing our part in helping the children affected by the shocking scenes of the fire that destroyed large sections of the Moria migrant camp in Lesbos. In September, I committed to working with Tusla and colleagues across Government, in the context of Budget 2021, to secure additional resources to transfer more children to Ireland. I am delighted to have secured funding to further fulfil our overall commitment in this regard.

Additional €45m (this is in addition to an increase of €100m from Exchequer funds for 2020) for International Protection Seekers Accommodation - Will enable commencement of the process of implementing the Programme for Government commitment to end the Direct Provision system and to plan for the transition to an alternative model of provision.

The allocation for accommodation for asylum seekers under the Direct Provision system has been increased to some €225m for 2021. This will enable the Department to begin the process of implementing the Programme for Government commitment to end the Direct Provision system and to plan for the transition to an alternative model of provision. The process of moving to a new system will take time and is very complex. The change process will be set out in the White Paper on Direct Provision that the Government will publish by the end of this year.

The increased allocation provided for 2021 will enable the Department to continue the programme of improvements to the current system, including the progressive implementation of national standards to ensure greater consistency in the quality of accommodation and services provided to persons in the Direct Provision system. The short-term focus will be on reducing the proportion of people, particularly families, who are accommodated in emergency accommodation and on increasing the proportion of own-door or self-catering options available, particularly to families.

The increased budget also allows for direct measures to address the risks of Covid 19 on those asylum seekers availing of State-provided accommodation.

Additional €5 million funding for Youth Services – bringing the overall 2021 allocation for youth services to almost €70 million

An additional €5 million for youth services brings the total 2021 allocation to some €70m. This investment will support implementation of the new targeted youth funding scheme, UBU Your Place, Your Space, and the universal Youth Services Grant Scheme. It will also support Youth Information Centres, local youth clubs and other local, national and international initiatives.

There is a continued commitment to implementation of the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy which has been extended into 2021. The funding will also enable continuation of the Youth Climate Justice Fund which was launched on a pilot basis earlier this year.

Capital funding of €3m will support crucial ICT investment to enable youth services to deliver a new blended model of youth work, which prioritises invaluable face-to-face youth work and recognises the potential of innovative online approaches developed in response to Covid-19.

Regarding the increase in funding youth services, the Minister said:

Youth organisations have been unsung heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic, adapting quickly to continue their vital support for young people. We know from research that where young people were engaged with youth organisations, they fared better during the pandemic. The €5m increase in funding for youth organisations is recognition of that great work, and the role they play in the lives of so many young people.

Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare
2020 was a very challenging year in the childcare sector. The pandemic brought the closure of facilities from March, and the Department worked hard to put in place supports to sustain the sector and retain capacity to the greatest extent possible. This work facilitated the successful reopening of services from the end of June, but the pandemic interrupted the normal operation of schemes for many months. The childcare budget for 2021 has been maintained at 2020 levels, taking account of demographic changes and projected demand during the year.

Additional €1m for Traveller and Roma Initiatives
The increased funding will support additional initiatives, particularly for members of the Roma community and Traveller organisations, who have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional €2m for the Decision Support Service
The service, once operational, will enable those with capacity difficulties to avail of the range of legal options set out under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. This funding will ensure that the DSS can open in 2022 and that the process of ending the wardship system can begin thereafter.

Additional €0.6m for Refugee and Migrant Integration
This increase of almost 10% in funding will support initiatives aimed at meeting the needs of refugees and migrants. It will also allow the Irish Refugee Protection Programme to continue its work to resettle refugees from areas of international conflict, particularly Syria.

Additional €0.8m for Youth Participation Services
Ireland is a recognised world leader in children and young people’s participation. In 2021, an increase of €791,000 will be provided bringing the full-year allocation to €2.22m. In line with our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, this investment respects the right of the child to have a voice, and helps enhancing citizen engagement in the democratic process, locally and nationally.