22/07/2002

Children's services to benefit from funding boost

Families and children in all four HSS Board areas will benefit from a recent announcement on children’s services, Health, Social Services and Public Safety Minister, Bairbre de Brún said today.

The Minister said: "Services for families and children are and will continue to be one of my main priorities. To underline this, over the next year or so, a range of innovative schemes will get under way to support vulnerable children and young people. I have secured the £9.6 million that these schemes will cost, from the Children’s Fund, one of the five Executive Programme Funds set up by the Executive.

"This money will allow 11 much-needed projects to proceed in the four Board areas."

Among these will be:
  • a project, costing £375,000 over two years, in the Eastern HSS Board to prevent primary school children with behavioural or attendance problems, being excluded from school
  • a family centre for Causeway HSS Trust, to facilitate early intervention for children and families facing problems and a pilot project on family group conferencing
  • three projects in the Southern HSS Board to provide support to young people with significant emotional difficulties and improve the health needs of 'looked-after' children and support young carers
  • a project in the Western HSS Board to support young people who are involved in or at risk of involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour
In the residential sector, £6 million will also be provided to replace the current secure accommodation at Lakewood with a new secure unit with accommodation for up to 16 young people.

The Minister added: "This is a welcome boost to social services funding. Expenditure on social services for children and families is lower per head of population here than in England. This additional funding will help improve existing services and develop and test new and innovative ways of doing things."

Welcoming the fact that £9 million of the Children’s Fund is being made available directly to the voluntary and community sectors, Ms de Brún concluded: "There are many aspects of children’s services where the voluntary and community sectors can make a very positive contribution to the lives of children and their families."

(MB)

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