Family and Community Resource Centre Programme

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A guide for community groups



Background to the Programme

Roles within the Programme

Aim and general activities

How to apply to take part in the Programme

How applications are assessed
       Group or project factors
       Broader factors

Conditions attached to successful applications

Process following approval

Overall funding available
       Core funding
       Start up funding

Payment and monitoring of core funding
       Once off grants

Review process and contract renewal

Frequently Asked Questions


This booklet is aimed at community groups wishing to apply to become Family Recource Centres and so receive funding from the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme. It briefly describes the Programme and explains how to apply to become a Family Resource Centre and what happens after your application is received.

Background to the Programme

In 1994. to mark the International Year of the Family, the then Department of Social Welfare granted nearly €320,000 in funding to 10 Family Resource Centres on a three year pilot basis. When the work of these centres was evaluated in 1997, the main recommendation was that their funding should continue under a dedicated Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme within the Department.

Then, in 1998, the Government's Commission on the Family supported an extended funding programme that would support a network of Family Resource Centres throughout Ireland. The Commission recommended that the Centres should focus on areas where communities deal with multiple disadvantages and where families face significant difficulties in trying to raise their children and secure a positive future for them.

At the end of 2006, 100 Family Resource Centres ( FRCs) were receiving funding from the Programme. Under the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013, funding has been allocated for another six centres in 2007.

Roles within the Programme

The Family Support Agency (FSA), under the Department of Social Protection, has overall responsibility for managing the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme. This includes monitoring centres, processing grants and making official decisions.

The Board of the Family Support Agency and the Minister for Social Protection agree the policy and conditions of the Programme.

An independent sub group of the Family Support Agency advises the Board and the Minister on which new community groups and projects to fund and in the Agency's overall package of support. The number of new centres taken into the Programme depends on the funding available each year.

The sub-group comprises representatives of the Family Support Agency, the Combat Poverty Agency, Regional Support Agencies, Family Resource Centres and the Family Support Agency Board.

A network of Regional Support Agencies offers training and day to day support to local Family Resource Centres and sets standards for their work. In particular, the Support Agencies:

  • conduct initial work and training, as needed, in areas identified for inclusion in the Programme;
  • bring agreed new centres and areas into the Programme and work with them to draft their three year work plan and negotiate their contract with the FSA;
  • create opportunities for networking among Family Resource Centres in the same region;
  • advise on and monitor the work of existing centres, making sure the centres follow good community development practice and values;
  • report to the FSA on their own work and on progress of centres within the region;
  • make sure the FSA is aware of any serious difficulties in individual centres and work with the centre and FSA as appropriate to resolve these difficulties;
  • promote the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme in the region, for example by enhancing the capacity of projects to take part in relevant initiatives to influence local, regional and national policy.

Each Family Resource Centre (FRC) is assigned its own Support Agency.

Aim and general activities

The Programme aims to support FRC's to combat disadvantage by supporting the family unit. Centres offer a wide range of supports, for example:

  • parenting skills courses;
  • advice on the role of young fathers,
  • assistance for young mothers and those parenting alone,
  • specific support for young teens at risk, lone parent families and homeless families.

In general, they act as a first step to a community participation and social inclusion for the most vunerable and marginalised families. They have a responsibility to ensure this by actively encouraging local people to take part in all aspects of their work and involving them in managing Centres and designing and delivering specific programmes.

In line with this, they should also provide a focused but flexible programme for individuals who wish to use their services. These services should strive to enhance the self-esteem and potential of individuals to increase the capacity of local communities to become self-reliant and self-directed. This is in keeping with the principles of adult education and community development.

At a policy level, centres should engage with relevant local and regional initiatives and with national initiatives through the Family Resource Centre Forum and the Family Support Agency.

To find out more about centres in the Programme, you can log onto or

How to apply to take part in the Programme

Applicant groups whose work meets the aims of the Family and Community Resource Centre Programme, namely to support areas where communities are dealing with multiple disadvantages and where families are facing significant challenges may apply. As a result, we cannot consider applications from groups with a single issue focus.

There is no standard application form, so please prepare your proposal under the following headings and send it directly to the Family Support Agency (address below).

1 Why you are applying to the Family and Community Services Resourse Centre Programme

Say briefly why you are applying for funding under the Programme. Give evidence of the need for a centre using the following sub headings.

(a) Geographic area

* Show that this is large enough to sustain an FRC (normally between 1000-5000 people).

* Describe the geographical boundaries, social and economic conditions and overall population breakdown of the area to be serviced by the FRC.

* State whether the population could identify themselves as a community.

(b) Signs of poverty

* Describe the extent of disadvantage by referring to unemployment levels, dependence on social welfare, number of small farmers (where relevant) and lone parents, rate of early school leaving and so on. The area should meet poverty and social exclusion criteria.

* Refer to any relevant studies or programmes to combat disadvantage in the area.

* State if your group or project is operating in a CLÁR or RAPID area, as this is an indicator of the level of disadvantage.

2 Anti poverty focus

* Show that your group or project is focused on tackling poverty and understands and works from community development principles and practice.

* As part of this, you should demonstrate that you actively involve people who are the focus of you work in the structure and activities of the group.

3 Structure of group

* Describe how the group is structured and give details of the members of the managment committee and their relevant backgrounds.

* Outline how the managment committee will develop to make sure that members of the target group will get fully involved.

* Describe any prior experience of managing or taking part in other community programmes. (Funded groups must become incorporated as companies limited by guarantee.)

4 Objectives and targets

List the group's activities in detail under the following headings:

* method of working, in particular, the goup's understanding of community development;

* what the group hope to achieve as a Family Resource Centre;

* how the group sets and reviews objectives;

* how you monitor and evaluate your work to measure success in achieving objectives; and

* the impact of the groups work on the community in which you are based.

5 Links

* Show how the group links with other complementary local initiatives.

* Show how the group hope to promote co ordination between statutory and community groups.

* Describe links with other FRC's and Community Development Projects (CDPs).

6 Proximity to other Family Resource Centres (FRCs) and Community Development Projects (CDPs)

* List other FRCs or CDPs in the area

7 Preparation of this application

*Describe how the group prepared this application, including, for example, any research the group carried out and any local consultations held.

8 Support needed

* Describe any supports your group needs to prepare to be a Family Resource Centre, if included in the Programme.

9 Other funding

* Give details of other sources of funding.

Send your completed application to:
Family Support Agency
Floor 4
St Stephen's Green House
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2

There is no set closing date for receipt of applicaitons.

The sub group may contact applicants for further information and clarification as required. All members of the sub group will treat applications and deliberations in strict confidence.

How applications are assessed

The sub group of the Family Support Agency examines applications by individual groups and recommends projects for the Programme to the Board of the FSA and the Minister for Social Protection.

When the sub group assesses applications, it considers two sets of factors; those related to the individual group or project and broader factors, such as the area or community in which they would like to set up a Family Resource Centre and available funding.

Group or project factors

The sub group assess each application by how well it reflects a community group's or project's:

  • commitment to an anti poverty focus;
  • support for community development activities;
  • ability to bring about community development
  • ability to act as a resource for the local community;
  • fostering of co ordination and co operation among community, voluntary and statutory groups in the area;
  • involvement of local people in its activities and structures, including management structures;
  • commitment to equality both in principle and in practice;
  • willingness to undertake any initial, pre development, training as needed; and
  • willingness to actively take up ongoing support and training.
Broader factors

The sub group will assess the suitability of a Family Resource Centre for the area by:

  • levels of poverty and, or, disadvantage;
  • what community development activity already takes place in the area or the community (as distinct from other voluntary activity);
  • the need for such an initiative;
  • the overall geographical spread of projects across the country; and availability of funding.

If the application is not successful, feedback will be given.

Conditions attached to successful applications

  • If the group's application is successful, you will be expected to follow the principles of community development and carry out the core functions of the Programme. Your centre must also become incorporated as a company limited by guarantee.
  • The Programme is funded under the Goverment's National Development Plan (NDP). It is a condition of funding that successful applicants acknowledge NDP support on their own promotional material. The Family Support Agency logo must also be used on all promotional material.

Process following approval

1   The Family Support Agency will tell you as soon as possible if your group or project is successful.

2   You will be assigned a Support Agency.

3   You will work with the Support Agency to identify and take part in relevant training and develop a three year work plan.

4   You will submit this plan to the Family Support Agency for approval. Once it is in order, the plan will form the basis of your contract with the Family Support Agency for a three year period.

5   You will apply for a CHY (Charitable Status) or a current Tax Clearance Certificate for the Centre.

6   The Family Support Agency will prepare and send you contracts for signing.

Overall funding available

The Family Support Agency offers a range of funding to successful applicants. Our policy is to respond flexibly to the needs of groups in various circumstances, so we do not have fixed funding levels.

Core funding

New groups entering the Programme may receive annual funding of up to €79,500 (2007 figures). The actual funding to individual centres varies in the light of their own circumstances and needs.

This core funding at the highest level may cover the cost of two full time staff, or equivalent (such as co ordinator, development worker or administrator), together with some overheads and administration costs. In year one, there are normally 1.5 workers (manager/co ordinator and a part time administrator). This increases to two full time workers (or equivalent) by the end of the three year work plan.

Payment and monitoring of core funding

Core funding payemnts are made quarterly (every three months) in advance as long as your group:

  • agrees an annual budget
  • submits an annual report and annual audited accounts,
  • submits quarterly returns and projections of spending.

The Family Support Agency has the right to withhold quarterly payments if you do not provide this information.

A condition of continued core funding is that groups make satisfactory orogress in implementing their work plan. See below for more information on reviewing progress and renewing contracts.

Start up funding

In addition new projects can avail of start ip funding of up to €29,750 once they show this funding is needed. This funding includes the initial set up costs and the cost of the first round of advertisements for a worker. Your Support Agency will advise you about this.

Once off grants

Each year we invite applications under a number of headings for once off grants of up to €7,500.

Training or educational support

Applications should show that training will enhance the effectiveness of local communities and voluntary groups including management committees and others active in a voluntary capacity if Family Resource Centres.


Applications are welcome for specific activities, for example citizenship training. These applications should give details of the activity, the numbers of people to take part or benefit and costs.


Applications for research grants should outline the piece of research to be carried out on locally based, relevant issues and how it relates directly to the work of the Family Resource Centre.

Community consultation

Applications to fund consultation should show that it will take place in the community on specific issues. Funding is also available to take part in consultations that feed into local and national policies.


Projects can apply for grants towards the cost of equipment, for example office equipment and furniture.

Renovating and refurbishing premises

Only limited funding is available under this heading. The Family Support Agency cannot make a significant contribution to any one project.

Capital grants

The Family Support Agency received €1m in 2007 for capital projects. We can make a contribution towards a number of projects, so we recommend that groups apply to other agencies for funding to make up the cost of the overall project. Applications for capital grants to buy or build premises must include the following information:

  • detailed costs for the entire project;
  • architectural drawings;
  • estimates or tenders from at least three selected contractors;
  • copy of planning permission for new buildings and for structural changes to the building or for any change in the use of the premises;
  • evidence of property ownership or long term lease;
  • confirmation that the selected contractor is registered for tax purposes (in other words has a C2 number or a tax clearance certificate from the Revenue Commissioners in their own name); and
  • letters from other agencies or Departments (where relevant) confirming funding approval for the work and the terms, amounts and conditions of funding.

All capital grants should be spent or committed (for example by signing a contract) within 12 months of receipt of the funds.

Reviewing progress and renewing contracts

Groups are funded to set up as Family Resource Centres on the basis of three year renewable contracts for as long as they show satisfactory progress in implementing their work plan.

A Regional Support Agency has a role in setting standards for a Family Resource Centre's work and reports to the Family Support Agency on any issues arising in the Centre's work within the Programme. Each Family Resource Centre submits an annual progress report and an end of contract report. These reports are co signed by the Support Agency and give the Project and the Regional Support Agency an opportunity to comment on the work and any issues that arise.

We use these reports and meetings with the Support Agencies to monitor a group's performance over the three year period. If difficulties arise, our policy is to work with all concerned to try to resolve them. We rarely withhold funding and do so only if all other efforts to resolve a difficulty have failed. Most difficulties can be resolved locally between the project and Regional Support Agency.

The contract between the Family Support Agency and the group outlines the specific circumstances in which the FSA can withold funding. These include failing to implement the work plan, failing to remedy a breach in the contract within 21 days of receiving notice of the breach, failing to settle outstanding debts and being would up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does "Working from an equality perspective" mean?

Fairness - recognising that everyone, no matter what their age, gender, religion or ethnicity, is entitled to the same rights.

What do we mean by community development?

Community development is about people working together for social change which will improve the quality of their lives, the communities in which they live and/or the society of which they are a part. It stresses the importance of how change is achieved as well as what is achieved. It helps people identify their needs, gives them the confidence to speak out and influence decision making and structures that affect their lives.

Community development works for change at three levels;

  • Personal - increases self confidence
  • Community - supports people to work for change in their communities
  • Public Policy - helps communities to influence government policy at local and national level
What do we mean "working from community development principles"

Community development is guided by principles. These include:

  • Promoting the empowerment of people through working together (collective action)
  • Emphasising the importance of process as well as task (in other words how things are done as well as what is done)
  • Promoting an integrated approach to development which recognises the interdependence of economic, social and cultural issues
  • Promoting creativity in the way we work
  • Promoting equality, challenging discrimination
  • Promoting participation, openness and inclusion (as opposed to competition and exclusion)
What does an anti poverty focus mean?

This means being aware and understanding that the community work being done is focused on vulnerable communities and vulnerable families and that the work is undertaken in respectful and supportive way.

Last modified:31/05/2010

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