Presentation to the Committee
On Children And Youth Affairs
Sharon Foley, MSc, MA
Designate Chairperson for the
Family Support Agency
Establishment and Services
The Family Support Agency Act, 2001 provided for the establishment of
the Family Support Agency.
Formally established on the 6th of May 2003, the Family Support
Agency has a statutory obligation to support, promote and develop the
provision of accessible community based support services for families.
The services for which the Agency currently has responsibility are :•
Family Resource Centre Programme
Counselling Grants Scheme
Tremendous work carried out by former CEO, former Chairperson,
Board and staff over last 9 years.
Budget and Staffing
The Agency’s budget for 2012 is €26.465m, down €6.218m (19%)
since 2008.
Some 93% of the 2012 budget relates directly to the support and
development of community based support services for families
Some 6% of the budget relates to Pay and Administration, the
balance relates to Research and Information
The FSA currently has 12 staff, a decrease of 6 (33%) since 2008
Under the Employment Control Framework, the staffing target for
the FSA by the end of 2012 is 13
Key Challenges and Priorities
For The Agency In 2012
Transition into Child and Family Support Agency
Support to acting CEO and staff over year as transition
Ensuring that the FRC’s and counselling programmes
are strong and well positioned for transition to the new
Child and Family Support Agency
Reduction in budgets for Family Resource Centre
Programme and Counselling Grants over next 3 years
Meeting its commitments in the Croke Park Agreement
Family and Community Services
Resource Centre (FRC) Programme
The aim of the Family Resource Centre Programme is to combat disadvantage by
providing support to families and communities from locations within
communities. There are now 107 FRC’s throughout the country.
Key services provided by FRC’s include:
•Information, advice and support for groups and families at local level.
•Assistance to community groups (such as training and the shared use of
•Education courses and training opportunities.
•Childcare facilities for those attending courses provided by the FRC.
•After-school clubs
Support Provided under
the Programme by the FSA
Financial assistance to assist with the staffing and equipping
of Centres
1994 - £250,000
2007 - €18.31 million
2008 - €21.46 million
2012 - €15.102 million
Direct support and advice to centres from FSA staff
Bring FRCs together as a national programme and support collective
Strengths of the FRC Programme
EARLY INTERVENTION & SUPPORT to vulnerable families and
involvement of local communities in management and delivery of
of family support
SUSTAINABILITY - Volunteers accumulate a wealth of skills,
knowledge and experience which contributes to the development
of capacity within local communities and to a legacy of community
INTEGRATION - FRCs play a key role in delivering integrated
services. In Many cases FRCs initiate and participate in multiagency partnerships e.g. HSE, Local Authorities, VECs, to meet
needs and maximise resources
Priorities over next 12 months
• Transition into new Child and Family Support Agency
• Emphasis on prevention and early family support within
disadvantaged communities under new Child and Family Support
• Strategic positioning of the importance of early family intervention
through direct provision of community support within the work of
the new agency.
• Continued rollout of new Strategic Framework for Family Support
within the FRC Programme, aligned with national objectives and
outcomes for family support services.
Scheme of Grants to Voluntary
Organisations providing Marriage,
Child and Bereavement Counselling
Set up in the 1990s to provide counselling to couples to prevent
marital breakdown.
Later extended to include counselling to children whose parents
separated, to the provision of marriage preparation courses and to
Counselling and support on the death of a family member.
Support Provided under the Programme by the FSA
1993 - £300,000
1996 - £900,000
2003 - €7.009 million
2010 - €11.406 million
2012 - €9.413 million
Allocation Of Counselling
Grant Funding In 2012
Under the Report on Public Expenditure Reform the budget for the
Counselling Grant Scheme is to reduce by 12% each year from 2012 to
Accordingly the 2012 budget is down 12% on the 2011 budget. The is
allocated as follows :–
Marriage / Relationship Counselling - €5,222,276
Marriage Preparation courses - €625,983
Child Counselling – €1,347,073
Bereavement Counselling /Support €2,130,150
Some key achievements
Funding to some 608 voluntary and community organisations
providing counselling services, of which 28 received funding on a
multi-annual basis
National resource and network of some 600 voluntary and
community based centres. Not-for-profit centres providing lowcost service which is not available elsewhere
Support for tender and roll-out of new data-base for counselling
groups to enhance data collection and analysis, in association with
the Association of Agency-Based Counselling in Ireland (AACI). To
be launched in early 2012
Partnership with the Irish Hospice Foundation on the development
of a Child Bereavement Network
Strengths Of The Counselling
Grants Scheme
• ASSISTS families and their members deal with difficult periods which
they may experience.
• Focuses on the development of support services IN THE
COMMUNITY for families
• VALUE FOR MONEY – Administration, Capital and Operational Costs
met by organisations.
• REACH - Provision of counselling and support services TO OVER
70,000 PEOPLE ANNUALLY, some 250,000 hours face-to-face, at an
approx. cost of €200 per client
• QUALITY - Accreditation by AACI (Association of Agency-Based
Counselling In Ireland)
• Unique PARTNERSHIP between Voluntary Sector and the State Referrals from Primary Care, HSE, Legal Aid, Citizens Advice, Mental
Health, Self
Priorities over next 12 months
• Transition into new Child and Family Support Agency
• Emphasis on the value of family support via counselling within
community setting under new Child and Family Support Agency with
future directions provided on how to improve quality
• Consideration to be given to the development of the provision of
pre-parenting counselling as identified in the ESRI report on Family
Trends which the FSA funded
• Currently working with the Irish Hospice Foundation in relation to
Bereavement Support for Children
The FSA has a statutory obligation to promote and disseminate
information about issues in relation to marriage and relationships
education, parenting and family responsibilities and related
The Agency has developed a number of collaborative relationships
with other organisations, including
One Family
Research function
The FSA’s Research Unit is a key component within the wider spectrum
of Child and Family Support services.
Role of Research
driving initiatives, informing work and identifying new areas of action
Engaging the sector
Meeting economic/social infrastructure information deficits by way of
commissioned research devoted to the continuing promotion of child and
family well-being.
On-line Database of Family Research -
Family Relationships and Family Well-being: A study of the families of nine
year- olds in Ireland.
Growing Up in a One-Parent Family: Family structure, family well-being and
child outcomes.
Family Well-being in Difficult Times: A Model of Factors Influencing the
Well- being of Families on Limited Incomes in Ireland.
Croke Park Agreement
FSA Action Plan
Better Human Resource Management
• Management of staff reductions in 2012, 2013 and 2014
through the re-deployment of staff and work. Absence
• Management to form part of 2012 PMDS
Better Business Process and Service Delivery for Citizen
• FSA has requested that ICT Support and Services be
supplied by/through Parent Department through an agreed
Service Level Agreement
• Counselling Grants Scheme - Review of Multi-Annual Funded
Counselling Organisations (60). Objective is to improve
accountability within the Scheme, in terms of service
provision and finance.
• FRC Programme - Streamline the software-based selfevaluation system for FRC Programme to link reporting more
closely with national objectives and outcomes for family
support services
Sharon Foley, MSc, MA
• Experience
– Former CEO of Crisis Pregnancy Agency
– Current CEO of Irish Hospice Foundation
– Senior manager in health services & Department of health – health
– 5 years experience in community development
– Govt appointed lay member of Health and Social Care professionals
Council, chairperson of its audit & governance committee
• Skills
– Proven leadership experience and skills – influencing, negotiating,
building and maintaining strategic partnerships.
– Extensive experience in the development of strategic plans and policies
– Considerable personal experience of senior management roles in the
public sector, including financial management, within the public and
charitable sector arenas
Final notes
• Thank you for your time and consideration
• Strong expertise of staff in Agency - challenge is how to ensure that
this valuable asset transfers to new Body and shapes future
provision of services for children and families.
• Looking for on-going support and advocacy for family support and
• Pleased to hear the views and experiences of members on the work
of the local programmes?

Family Resource Centre Programme Counselling Grants Scheme