Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 05 April, 2000

Written Answers. - Domiciliary Care Allowance Scheme.

96. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will lift the six month qualification rule with regard to the payment of domiciliary care allowance in view of the fact its application is a cause of difficulty for many parents under pressure in caring for a child with serious disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7665/00]

[899] 203. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will lift the six month qualification rule with regard to the payment of domiciliary care allowance in view of the fact its application is a cause of difficulty for many parents under pressure in caring for a child with serious disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10197/00]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 203 together.

I would like to refer the Deputies to my response to Questions Nos. 3715/00, 3716/00, 3717/00, 5004/00 and 8338/00 on this issue.

You will be aware that my predecessor, Deputy Cowen, announced on budget day last year that additional funding would be made available from 1 January 2000 to support the application of the domiciliary care allowance scheme, introduced by way of Circular No. 24/73 dated 23 September 1973 to eligible children under two years of age.

This modification to the scheme was confined to the age eligibility criterion only. Other criteria, as outlined in Circular No. 24/73, have not been altered. It should be noted that the circular points out, inter alia, that:

The fact that a severe handicap is present does not automatically justify the payment of an allowance … It is not intended that the Scheme should apply to short-term illnesses or disabilities – the handicap must be present at the time of application, have been present for at least six months prior to that date, and be likely to continue to last for at least a year. It is not visualised that any particular condition should be debarred from consideration – each case can be considered on its merits.

I fully appreciate the demanding role facing parents and guardians of children of all ages with a disability. Officials of my Department are in consultation with the health board chief executive officers and their senior area medical officers about the issues raised by the Deputies. The process has not yet reached a conclusion.