Dáil Éireann - Volume 569 - 26 June, 2003

Written Answers. - Counselling and Support Services.

  118. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if funding will continue for the Northside Counselling Service, Coolock, Dublin 17; if this worthwhile group will continue [1223]with their valuable work in the community; and the amount of finance proposed. [18170/03]

  Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): The promotion of continuity and stability in family life is a primary goal for the Government. Our approach involves an increasing emphasis on preventing family breakdown in the first place through the development of marriage and relationship counselling services.

  The scheme of grants for voluntary organisations providing marriage, child and bereavement counselling services is a non-statutory scheme of once-off grants to voluntary organisations providing marriage counselling, child counselling in relation to parental separation, marriage preparation courses and bereavement counselling and support services. The focus of the scheme is on support for the voluntary sector with the development of counselling and support services in the community for families, to enhance stability in family life, and to assist families and their members to deal with difficult periods which they may experience.

  Government grant aid for the development of marriage, child and relationship counselling services in the voluntary sector has been increased from €900,000 in 1997 to €6.6 million in 2002. There are now more than 460 voluntary and community groups throughout the country providing the services. The organisation referred to has received funding under this scheme in the past.

  The scheme of grants to voluntary organisations providing marriage, child and bereavement counselling services is now administered by the Family Support Agency, which I have recently established under the Family Support Agency Act 2002. I hope to be in a position to announce details of grants to be made available under the 2003 grants scheme shortly.