Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth | To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the extent to which he and his Department continue to offer assistance to children and families fleeing from the war in Ukraine
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the extent to which he and his Department continue to offer assistance to children and families fleeing from the war in Ukraine; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine on 24 February, and the invoking of the temporary protection Directive by the European Union shortly afterwards, my Department has worked intensively as part of the cross-governmental response to the Ukraine crisis.
My Department is focused on providing short term accommodation to people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. In excess of 23,000 people have been referred to my Department for accommodation.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a significant role as part of the State’s overall response, to support children and families displaced from Ukraine, as a result of the war and coming into Ireland. Tusla is committed to balancing the needs of families in a humanitarian crisis, with its child protection responsibilities, and requirement to support families and promote the welfare of children.
Tusla has always been available to come to a port to assist immigration authorities where a separated child seeking international protection arrives in the State. Tusla has been advised that 88% of all Ukrainians are arriving in Ireland through Dublin Airport and has a Social Worker present at Dublin Airport providing a duty service from 10am until 2am the following day. The social worker will ensure all State authorities at the airport are aware of the referral process for child protection concerns and to assist with screening for indicators of potential child trafficking.
Separated children seeking international protection who arrive at ports of entry to Ireland are referred to Tusla for a child protection needs assessment. Guidance regarding safeguarding and the immediate needs of children who have encountered trauma will be provided by the Tusla dedicated SCSIP Team and the broader Tusla child protection and foster care services.
Furthermore, on the issue of childcare, Ukrainian children are entitled to access the early childhood care and education, ECCE Programme, which provides two years of free preschool. The Early Years Division in my Department has taken responsibility for a number of actions supporting Ukrainian parents and children, allowing them to access preschool and ensuring children’s well-being. These actions have included:
- The development and translation of introductory information on the Irish early learning and care sector.
- A capacity analysis across the country identified vacant preschool places and work is ongoing to match children to the vacant places and to create additional early childhood care and education, ECCE places, where possible, in high areas of demand.
- Information on the access and inclusion model for children with disabilities accessing preschool has been translated into Ukrainian and Russian.
In areas where there is pressure on ECCE services, my Department work with city and country childcare committees to identify what supply is available.
With regard to supports for children, Tusla has compiled a list of 116 community contact centres across the country. These are local family support services which are either provided directly by Tusla or Tusla-funded services. That support for Ukrainian families in particular areas is available.
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