Marriage, Child and Bereavement Counselling Services - Determining Eligibility and the level of Grant Aid to be recommended

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Scheme of Grants for Marriage, Child and Bereavement Counselling Services


Part I General Description of Scheme
Information Leaflet

Part II Guidance notes for Determining eligibility and allocation
Purpose of the funding allocation and the terms for disbursement set out in the sanction.
Voluntary Organisations
Description of services provided
- Genuine Need - some relevant factors
Quality - some indicators
Financial Matters

Part III Guidelines for the allocation of funding in 2009
The purpose of these Guidelines
- Marriage and Child Counselling Sector
Marriage Preparation Sector
Bereavement Counselling and Support
Guidelines to be Reviewed regularly

Part I General description of the Scheme

This is a non-statutory scheme of once-off grants to voluntary organisations providing the following services:

Marriage counselling, Child counselling in relation to parental separation, Marriage preparation, and Bereavement counselling and support.

The focus of the scheme is on the development of 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. The aim is to ensure a larger and more accessible service, to ensure the highest level of service possible and that the service is delivered at low cost to the client.

Information Leaflet

FSA2: Grants for Marriage, Child and Bereavement Counselling Services (updated as required)


The scheme is administered by
Family Support Agency
Floor 4
St. Stephen's Green House
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
Ph: (01) 6114100

Part II Guidance notes for determining eligibility to apply for grant aid and the appropriate level of grant

Purpose of the funding allocation and the terms for disbursement set out in the sanction.

The allocation is intended to assist voluntary organisations in the provision of marriage counselling services, marriage preparation courses, child counselling in cases of parental separation and bereavement counselling and support on the death of an immediate family member.

The terms of the sanction which governs the disbursement of the allocation requires that the funding be provided to assist voluntary organisations where there is a genuine need and demand for the services and where services cannot be adequately supplied or met from existing resources.

Payments are discretionary and voluntary organisations funded should be made aware that any allocation must be solely for the purpose of assistance towards the provision of these services and that no underlying entitlement will arise where an annual grant has been paid before.

The provision of the grant aid and the level of the allocations to be made in individual cases are dependent on the availability of funds.

The purpose of these Guidance notes

These notes are intended for guidance in determining the eligibility of organisations for funding under the scheme and to assist officers in assessing the appropriate level of grant aid applicable in individual cases. They are not exhaustive. Applications should be considered on an individual basis having regard to the overall purpose of the scheme and the availability of funds.

The guidance notes may be revised and are subject to review in the light of practical experience and their effectiveness in ensuring that the basic terms of the sanction for disbursing the funds available are met in an open, fair, equitable and transparent manner.

Voluntary Organisation

A voluntary organisation has been described for the purposes of this scheme as being a group in the State who provide low cost services to the community with or without the presence of volunteers on the staff.


The service provided must include one or more of the services specified in part 1. Funding is not available for other services provided by the voluntary groups.

Applications from individuals are not eligible for grant payments.

In general, funding to cover the cost of training is not covered for local groups, however consideration can be given to expenses which volunteer trainees might not reasonably be expected to have to meet themselves.

Capital funding is not available under the scheme for the cost of buildings, equipment, furniture, fittings and general upgrading of facilities.

Genuine Need - the factors to be considered

In assessing applications for funding and to identify a genuine need and demand, reference may be had to:-

  • the throughput of clients,
  • the number of counselling hours provided,
  • extent of deficiency in current services e.g. waiting lists of clients,
  • capacity to deliver the service.
Quality of service - some indicators

The following may be taken as indicators of quality of service:-

  • training requirements of counselling and other staff,
  • support infrastructure, including management and secretarial services provided to staff,
  • provision of professional indemnity insurance.

Other indicators might include - supervision, affiliation to standard setting body e.g. IACT, evaluation of services undertaken by groups.

Checks to see if financial affairs are in order

The government's tax clearance procedures apply to all grant allocations. These procedures mean that groups must give their tax number or registered number for Charitable status, name of the tax office dealing with their affairs to certify that their tax affairs are in order.

The following information will indicate whether or not grant payments already made are in order:-

  • income and expenditure accounts in respect of the previous years grant,
  • receipts and vouchers to the value of the grant (a receipt is a voucher which is clearly marked paid),
  • a statement signed by the Chairperson and treasurer to the effect that the grant was used for the purposes of which it was made,
  • for grants of over 6,500 or more, and the voluntary organisation is not a registered charity, a current tax clearance certificate from the Revenue Commissioners should be submitted at the time the grant is being allocated,
  • for grants over 12,700 the certificate should be signed by the organisation's auditors stating that they have examined the organisation's accounts and can certify that the grant was spent for the purpose it was given.

The following may also be relevant:-

  • constitution and articles of association of the voluntary organisation.
  • Annual report of the Voluntary organisation,
  • history of previous payments,
  • meetings with and visits to the voluntary organisation.

Information given in applications may be supplemented or clarified by discussions with the organisation to assist assessment.

Remember these guidance notes are not exhaustive. Each case should be assessed on its own merits. The Guidance notes are intended to be used as a guide in making assessments towards recommendations. Further guidance may be developed as the need arises or as funds allow.

These notes supersede previous guidance.


Once recommendations have been made and any outstanding issues are reviewed and discussed, the recommendations go to the Family Support Agency Board and then to the Minister for approval.

Part III Guidelines for the allocation of funding in 2009


In 2009, some 11.809 million has been allocated for the scheme. These guidelines have been drawn up to assist officers in deciding appropriate individual allocations for the disbursement of this amount.

The guidelines have been drawn up in the light of the policy priorities identified in supporting the development of the counselling sector at this time. They take account of an analysis of the allocations made in each sector last year, the expectations for support in the sector and the funds available to meet these demands this year.

The guidelines relate solely to the matters of allocation s to be made in the context that the applications for funding from eligible groups are far in excess of the funding available for disbursement.

The allocation guidelines are intended to provide officers with a standard and equitable approach for the allocation of the funding available. They are not intended to override or replace the guidance notes for officers in determining allocations in individual cases in Part II. They set out the likely parameters of what is possible by way of funding this year while enabling officers to be flexible and responsive to needs in recommending allocations in individual cases.

Allocations should be made in respect of each specified service provided by the organisation but one overall payment will issue in each case.

2. 2008 Allocation

The grants paid to voluntary organisations providing marriage, child and bereavement counselling services in 2008 totalled 10.948 million

The funding was allocated in the following manner:

Grant Category

% of Total Funding


Marriage Counselling



Marriage Preparation



Child Counselling



Bereavement Counselling



3. 2009 Allocation

The total funding available for these grants in 2009 is 11.809 million . It represents an overall increase of 7.86% over last years allocation.

The Government Policy Objectives to:

  • Enable major providers of marriage and counselling services, such as Accord and Marriage and Relationship Services Ltd. (MRCS) and others, to take the lead and set standards in providing high quality and professional services.
  • Put in place the infrastructure for the development of a regional network of accessible services throughout the country.
  • Invest in the development of specialised services to respond to the needs of families in disadvantaged communities, and;

Based on last years figures and bearing these factors in mind, the amount of funding allocation to each sector might be:

Grant Category

% of Total Funding


Marriage Counselling



Marriage Preparation



Child Counselling



Bereavement Counselling/Support*



These proposed allocations will, of course, be reviewed in light of the grant application intake.

4. Processing of 2009 Applications
Marriage Counselling

In the case of groups providing marriage counselling an increase of up to 7% might be considered for individual groups over and above the amount of funding that they received last year pending, the level of funding requested and the suitability of the application. Some organisations may have additional requirements. Those with long waiting lists, high throughput and working in disadvantaged areas may be prioritised.

Marriage Preparation

Having regard to the fact that many marriage preparation courses have the potential to be self-financing, it is considered that no increase in warranted this year. However, some organisations my have additional requirements.

Child Counselling

It is envisaged that individual groups in this sector might receive an increase of up to 7% also. The importance of ensuring high standards in the provision of counselling to children must be borne in mind. Again some organisations may have additional requirements.

Bereavement Counselling and Support

It is recommended that increases of up to 7% might be considered for organisations providing bereavement counselling, with some of the groups providing bereavement support also receiving increases of up to 7%. It is considered, as the majority of groups currently funded in this sector are close to their capacity regarding funding allotments, increases are not required and again some organisations may have additional requirements.

5. Regular Review of Guidelines

The guidelines for allocations draw on the experience of officers in assessing the applications in the past and their detailed knowledge of the work of the organisations in providing services.

The guidelines are subject to ongoing review at meetings of officers who are assessing applications this year in terms of:

  • practical application and workability,
  • fairness and equity,
  • effectiveness in meeting the needs of the voluntary organisations providing services
  • contribution to effective management of the throughput of applications and the auditing controls of the scheme.

Family Support Agency

Last modified:29/06/2010

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