Katherine Zappone calls on Taoiseach to maintain Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Katherine Zappone calls on Taoiseach to maintain Department of Children and Youth Affairs
The caretaker minister said she was aware of reports that the Department may be dissolved but says “It is the sixth-largest spending department. A lot goes on there."

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to maintain the Department.

Ms Zappone, who is a caretaker Minister as she lost her seat in the general election, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that if the Department were dissolved it would “dilute the focus on the rights of children.”

Ms Zappone had been commenting on plans for the introduction of childcare for health care workers. Under the proposals childcare workers would look after the children of health care workers in their own homes at a cost of €90 per family, per week.

Anyone who wants to take part of the scheme, which will be introduced on May 18, should contact their Human Resources manager, said Ms Zappone.

The scheme includes hospital staff such as cleaners, canteen staff and private nursing home staff. A full list of staff covered under the scheme is being finalised today, she said.

The delay in introducing the scheme was because the government had been awaiting the advice from Dr Tony Holohan on the public health risk of allowing child care workers into the homes of health care workers.

Full details of the scheme are available on the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and letters will be going out to human resource managers to appraise them of the details, she said.

Other frontline workers, such as gardaí, will be included in Phase 2 when the scheme is broadened. Ms Zappone said that the scheme will commence on the 18th May for four weeks, with a review after two weeks.

“It is a temporary measure, something like this has never been done before. It will be a logistical challenge, but the scheme is there to support health care workers.”

When asked about suggestions that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will be dissolved, Ms Zappone said she had read the reports, but hoped that was not the case. Asked if she had mentioned that to the Taoiseach, Ms Zappone said she had and she hoped he was listening to the interview.

“It is the sixth largest spending department. A lot goes on there. It would dilute focus on the rights of children if it were dissolved.”

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