Roscommon/Galway Fianna Fáil TD, Eugene Murphy, has highlighted the impending closure of Youth Advocate Programmes (YAP ) Ireland's service in his constituency and the detrimental impact that this will have on young people and families in the area.
Deputy Murphy has expressed concern in relation to the decision taken by Tusla to terminate their service level agreement with YAP Ireland to no longer fund its relevant services from December 2018. This decision was taken following an internal review carried out by the Galway Area Management Team.
Deputy Murphy has tabled parliamentary questions with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone in a bid to have this decision reserved and highlight the very worthwhile and valuable work carried out by YAP Ireland.
“I recently held a meeting with Siobhan O’ Dwyer, the CEO of YAP Ireland, in Leinster House and it is very clear this decision will have a damaging impact on young people and their families in counties Roscommon and Galway.
“If this funding decision is allowed to stand, I am fearful that young people and their families will lose a high quality community service. YAP Ireland has been providing a great service within the region for 16 years. Some of the statistics from YAP Ireland show that 96 percent of young people who were at home when referred to YAP remained at home at the end of the programme, 76 percent of young people reported an improvement in their self-esteem and confidence, 70 percent reported an improvement in school attendance, while 70 percent reported an improvement in emotional well being,” Deputy Murphy commented.
Deputy Murphy detailed the unique nature of the Youth Advocate Programme model and the beneficial impact on young persons.
“The YAP model is unique in that they recruit, train, employ and support community based advocates who bring a range of skills to the role and who are matched with young people and families based on what will best meet their needs. In Roscommon and Galway since 2010 YAP have employed approximately 130 advocates with an average employment of 15 months, many of whom have gone on to work within Tusla as social workers and family support workers, the HSE and many more in youth and community services.
“The current funding is €213,000 to work intensively with at least 20 young people and families over a 26 week period. The average cost per young person and family in 2017 was €6,500, which shows the cost effectiveness of this service given the outcomes achieved as opposed to residential care options,” Deputy Murphy continued.
The Deputy has called on the Minister to reverse the decision noting there was no input into the decision taken by YAP Ireland.
“This decision needs to be reserved and it must also be pointed out that this retrograde step was taken without any input from YAP Ireland into the review process and the organisation was unaware that a review took place which prevented them from contributing to the review or responding to it. This seems a totally inappropriate and dismissive way to conduct business with an organisation which had 16 years of a positive and professional working relationship with Tusla. I have called on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, to clarify the position as to why such a decision was made and also to reverse it as a matter of urgency,” Deputy Murphy concluded.