186. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if sufficient funding will be provided to a service (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the reduction or change in the provision of funding will have a serious impact on the persons to whom the service is provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14529/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy may be aware, my Department is obliged to carry out a Call for Proposals process during 2018 in relation to the provision of Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) services, to fully comply with requirements related to the co-funding of projects by the European Social Fund Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.
To ensure State-wide coverage of GYDP services for young people, (which does not exist at present), the intention is that, in general, service provision will be aligned with Garda Divisions or other appropriate local areas with a distinct community identity as may be agreed during a wide ranging consultation process which is currently ongoing. Issues of community identify and numbers of potential participants on GYDPs in the area will be key considerations here.
I can assure the Deputy that there are no proposals to reduce the level of funding currently available to the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) to support the work of GYDPs, and I am satisfied that my Department has sufficient funding to enable the IYJS to meet current GYDP operating costs. In fact, as the overriding objective of the current change process is to ensure the provision of GYDP services to every child who needs them, it is likely that there will be an increased funding requirement for GYDPs in the coming years.
I can assure the Deputy that the new approach to GYDP provision which is being developed in preparation for the Call for Proposals will not reduce the level of service that already exists, or the importance of community involvement in its delivery. On the contrary, the intention is to build on, update and improve a very valuable service so that it is available to every child or young person in the country who requires it. This improvement to the service will have benefits for significant numbers of young people in the State who cannot currently access GYDP services. While certain aspects of the new service model have been determined, work is ongoing to complete the full details to be included in the Call for Proposals, which is expected to issue later this year. I am convinced that community ownership and participation of the projects is an essential dimension that must be preserved and strengthened in the working out of this process.
My Department is very much aware of concerns expressed by youth justice workers and their representatives. I can assure the Deputy that careful consideration is being given to all issues raised by stakeholders involved in GYDPs, including those of independent service providers, as part of the ongoing consultation process. This process includes arrangements for an extensive series of meetings with community based organisations and project workers which will facilitate closer communication and exchange of information in relation to these matters. The consultation process will help to inform further development of the approach in advance of the Call for Proposals being issued.
In addition, the consultations will include arrangements to hear the views of young people, including participants or former participants on GYDPs.
GYDPs deliver valuable services for young people who have committed a crime or may be at risk of offending as well as providing important support for An Garda Síochána at local level. I can assure the Deputy that in the context of the Call for Proposals my Department is committed to ensuring continuity of service for participants on GYDPs and maintain a community driven approach to their operation, as well as minimising any disruption for workers and service providers. In this regard, I am advised that the Call for Proposals process will facilitate existing service providers forming consortiums, which could apply to provide services under the new comprehensive approach being developed.