Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 12 October, 2000

Written Answers. - Child Care.

118. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Finance when the Civil Service crèche will re-open in view of the fact that many civil servants have been left with no child minding facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21849/00]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): The Mount Street crèche is run by the Civil Service Crèche Co-operative Limited.

As child care is an important part of our employment and labour market policies, the Government provides the premises free of charge and meets electricity and heating costs.

Up to recently, the crèche had been operated under licence by a manager appointed by the co-operative.

However, in September the co-operative decided to allow the licence to expire and to appoint a new manager. The co-operative is now having discussions with a private crèche management company with a view to engaging it to run the Mount Street crèche.

My Department has been working very closely with the co-operative in the matter.

Following the closure of the crèche, an inspection of the premises by the Eastern Health Board revealed a number of problems with the premises which must be tackled before the crèche can reopen. I understand that the Office of Public Works is about to place a contract for the refurbishment work which will allow the crèche to open no later than early November.

I am very much aware of the difficulties that the present closure causes parents. I know how important good child care is for both children and working parents.

I can assure the Deputy that I am determined that the Mount Street crèche will open as soon as possible once the mandatory health board standards have been complied with.

[178] 119. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has received the reports which he requested from the Garda and the Eastern Regional Health Authority in respect of the recent tragic death of a 15 year old person (details supplied) who was in the care of the East Coast Area Health Board; the conclusions reached on foot of theses reports; the protocol which he will put in place in respect of the reporting of missing minors in these and all circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21771/00]

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Ms Hanafin): Two reports were received from the South Western area Health Board, the first on 25 August 2000 in response to an oral request made by a departmental official the previous day and the second on 1 September in response to a further request made on 28 August 2000.

Information was also sought from the Garda via the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on 28 August and this was received on 4 October 2000.

Following consideration of all reports and having discussed the matter with the parents of the child in question, I asked the Eastern Regional Health Authority to initiate a complete case review. I believe that lessons can be learned from the handling of this case which will lead to improved services for other troubled children in the future.

Accordingly, I met the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority on 9 October last to discuss the format of the review. We agreed that the review will be conducted by an independent person who will report by the end of the year. The review will examine in particular whether the services provided were adequate and appropriate and will make recommendations.

In addition, the social services inspectorate is conducting an inspection of the residential centre in question and I am not in a position to draw any definitive conclusions until the outcome of both the case management review and the report of the inspectorate are to hand.

In regard to a protocol for the reporting of missing minors, I should clarify that, in this case, the management of the centre in question reported the matter to the Garda without delay. However, I will consider this issue and my officials will liaise with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the matter.

This is a tragic case and I sympathise with the parents and family of the child in question.