Further to the announcement by the Board of Directors of Time4Us that the service is to close at the end of March, 2018 Deputy Connolly said she immediately contacted the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone to see if she was aware of the proposed closure and to see what steps, if any, had been taken to ensure the service remains open. She also contacted the Board of Time 4 Us with a view to clarifying the situation.
In response to Deputy Connolly’s question the Minister confirmed the background of the service and the number of families using it, unfortunately however the reply didn’t deal with the kernel of the question, namely what plans have been put in place to ensure that Time4Us remains open.
The response from a member of the Board of Time4Us confirmed that the core difficulties are the lack of appropriate governance structures along with appropriate skill mix on the Board.
Deputy Connolly said that these reasons, while important, should not lead to the closure of this essential service but should be dealt with in a practical and pragmatic manner. In the event and given the outcry at the proposed closure, the directors arranged a meeting with the elected representatives of Galway last Monday with a view to further clarification on the matter.
This proved to be a very useful meeting where a number of significant facts emerged. More particularly the service has been in existence for over 10 years, and over 40 families are currently using the service without which the children of these 40 families would not see their parent. Moreover, the service is run on a shoestring budget with four staff, one of whom is a full-time Project Leader, and three part-time case-workers. Indeed the annual cost amounts to approximately €84,000. In addition it emerged that two assessments of the project, one conducted in 2008 and the other in 2016, were extremely positive in relation to the service and lighted the advantages.
In light of this information, it was agreed by all present that a solution has to be found to keep this service open. In this regard Deputies Catherine Connolly, Hildegarde Naughten and Anne Rabbitte agreed to raise the proposed closure as a matter of urgency in the Dáil. Minister of State Seán Kyne agreed to arrange an urgent meeting with Minister Katherine Zappone and the Directors of the service are to have a meeting with Galway representatives in the next few weeks.