Children in Care with disabilities need additional protection

Children in Care with disabilities need additional protection

Immediate Release: 2nd November 2016 EPIC welcomes the publication of senior counsel Conor Dignam’s report. This report was commissioned by the Minister for Social Affairs when it was revealed that “Grace”, a young woman with intellectual disabilities was left in an abusive foster care home despite evidence that it was unsafe. The focus of this report is two successive inquiries commissioned by the HSE, conducted by Conal Devine (2012) and Resilience Ireland Ltd (2015), giving particular attention to the approach adopted by these inquiries and the validity of the reasons the HSE put forward for not publishing them. Mr Dignam has deemed the HSE’s approach to both inquiries inadequate, and supports their publication. These findings again highlight the exceptional vulnerability of our children in the care of the state, and the additional vulnerability of children in care with disabilities. The fact that the HSE failed to adequately investigate the allegations of sexual and physical abuse of over 40 children placed in this foster care home must prompt us to re-examine how we ensure that every child in Ireland is protected and safeguarded, in particular children in the care of the state and children who are often without a voice. Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment: “Beyond the official acknowledgement of the wrong that has been done, the establishment of an independent investigation on how and why this abuse of vulnerable young people was allowed to happen and continue for many years is absolutely necessary. It is fundamental in order to prevent it happening now or ever again. EPIC supports the government’s commitment to establish such an investigation....
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins pays tribute to Care Leavers on Care Leavers Day!                                                         

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins pays tribute to Care Leavers on Care Leavers Day!                                                         

Immediate Release: Friday, 21st of October 2016 EPIC and Care Leavers Ireland today celebrate National Care Leavers Day hosting the third Annual Aftercare Conference entitled ‘Out On My Own’in George’s Hall, Dublin Castle. The opening address of the conference was made by the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins. The President paid tribute to all of the Care Leavers of Ireland, and to organisations such as EPIC and Care Leavers Ireland for empowering young people to vindicate their right to participate in debate and decisions about their future. The President also spoke of the courage and determination required from, and displayed by, so many young people leaving the care system, and he reminded participants of our duty to build a society that recognises the inherent dignity of all its members, and that allows a voice to disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Speakers throughout this one day conference will include young people who will give their perspectives on the ‘good’, the ‘bad’ and the ‘reality’ of leaving State Care. The afternoon session will also include a panel of experts that will answer young people’s questions on aftercare. Notes to the Editor Follow EPIC on Twitter @epicireland where you can tweet about the conference using the hashtag #OutOnMyOwn Ends For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview please contact: Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC       Noel Howard, Care Leavers Ireland   Tel: 01 872 7661/0866073866                       Tel: 087 1331280       Email: jennifergargan@epiconline.ie            nh99@eircom.net EPIC (formerly IAYPIC) is an independent association that works throughout the Republic of Ireland, with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have had an...
President of Ireland Opens Annual Aftercare Conference marking National Care Leavers Week!

President of Ireland Opens Annual Aftercare Conference marking National Care Leavers Week!

EMBARGOED for Release: 00:01, Friday, 21st of October      EPIC and Care Leavers Ireland will host the third National Aftercare Conference entitled ‘Out on My Own’ in George’s Hall, Dublin Castle, Friday, October 21st 2016. The conference opening address will be made by President Michael D. Higgins. Speakers on the day will include young people with care experience, as well as a panel of experts who will be answering young people’s questions. Speaking ahead of the conference, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan said: “EPIC and Care Leavers Ireland are really looking forward to celebrating National  are Leavers Day. The purpose of this conference is to raise awareness of the issues for young people leaving State Care and identify gaps in service provision to   policymakers through directly hearing from young people’s seldom heard voices.             Young people will give their perspectives and speak of their experiences of the “good”, the “bad” and the “reality” of leaving care. We hope their voices will raise awareness amongst policymakers, professionals and the public about the care system particularly highlighting the vulnerabilities and supports these young people need and should receive as they transition into adulthood.” Chair of Cares Leavers Ireland, Noel Howard said: “Even the most fortunate young person, benefitting from all the supports of family, school and community, who leaves home at 18 will have difficulties at one time or   another. Care leavers, even with the best that the care system can offer, face the daunting prospect of being on their own with very often few such supports. This conference will reflect aspects of this situation from those who know most about it...
‘Out on my Own’ Aftercare Conference Opening Address by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

‘Out on my Own’ Aftercare Conference Opening Address by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

FOR YOUR DIARY! WHAT: ‘Out on My Own’, Annual Aftercare Conference & National Care Leavers Day opened by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. WHERE: George’s Hall, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.  WHEN: Friday 21st of October 2016, 9.45-4pm      Immediate Release: 17th October 2016 EPIC and Care Leavers Ireland will host the third National Aftercare Conference entitled ‘Out on My Own’ to mark and celebrate National Care Leavers week. The opening address of the conference will be made by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. Speakers on the day will include young people with care experience. There will also be a special panel of guests who will be answering young people’s questions. The purpose of the conference is to focus on key issues for young people preparing to leave care or young people who are in aftercare. The main themes of the conference focus on aftercare, education, housing and homelessness and mental health. The aim of this conference is to raise awareness and identify the gaps for young people through hearing directly from their seldom heard voices. * Media interviews with young people who have care experience can be arranged in advance.  Notes to the Editor To book your place, click on the Eventbrite link http://www.epiconline.ie/news-events/ Professionals €50.00, Students €25.00 Young People with care experience free. Ends For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview please contact:  Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC        Noel Howard, Care Leavers Ireland   Tel: 01 872 7661/0866073866                       Tel: 087 1331280       Email: jennifergargan@epiconline.ie            nh99@eircom.net EPIC (formerly IAYPIC) is an independent association that works throughout the Republic of Ireland, with and for children and young...
Every Child should have the Right to Be Cared for in their own Community

Every Child should have the Right to Be Cared for in their own Community

Immediate Release: 17th October 2016 HIQA has raised serious concerns in an inspection report published today on the foster care service in the Midlands. The report identified that out of 26 standards, six standards were judged as at ‘significant risk’, 20 standards needed improvement, none of the 26 standards were fully complied with. The report highlighted the lack of placements available for children in the area which resulted in crisis placements and with children being placed in out-of area placements. 8% of children had no allocated social worker and 45% of children did not have an up-to-date written care plan. Safeguarding visits to children had not taken place and there were long delays in assessments and making timely decisions from the Foster Care Committee. There were 23 unplanned endings in 2 years prior to the inspection. Speaking following publication of report, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following statement: “The findings from this report are extremely worrying. The report highlights the lack of suitable placements available for children in this area which is causing serious multiple effects. The impact for the children involved, as a result of out-of-area  placements means lesser contact with their families. The findings also highlight the impact of placement moves on children’s education and school attendance.             It is clear from this report that there needs to be an effective campaign to recruit more foster carers in this area. Every child in care should have an allocated Social Worker, care plan/aftercare plan. It is also clear that timeframes for completion of foster care assessments are required to protect and promote each child’s welfare and stability....
EPIC Welcomes Additional Funding to The Child and Family Agency

EPIC Welcomes Additional Funding to The Child and Family Agency

EPIC WELCOMES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO CHILD AND FAMILY AGENCY  Immediate Release: 11th October 2016   EPIC today welcomes the news that an additional €37 million will be allocated to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency in today’s budget totalling the annual budget of Tusla to €713 million. The allocation of this funding will be used for the employment of Social Workers to unallocated cases, development of special care services and enhancing Tusla’s capacity to respond in the areas of aftercare and children first legislation. Speaking following this budget announcement, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment: “EPIC welcomes the additional funding provided to Tusla, the Child & Family Agency who require this funding in order to fulfil its function to protect the welfare of children. As a National Advocacy Service, EPIC continues to experience cases where children in care have no social worker. If a child is without a social worker, he/she is often without a voice. While EPIC welcomes this news, we believe that further funding is required in order to ensure that every child has a meaningful relationship with their Social Worker.              EPIC also welcomes the news of funding for the provision of aftercare. One of the biggest issues presenting to our National Advocacy Service is the aftercare needs of  young people leaving State Care. However, the commencement of Aftercare legislation is a matter of urgency to ensure every young person leaving care has an aftercare plan.”  EPIC looks forward to hearing more details on the extra allocation of funding to the Child and Family Agency. Notes to the Editor As of July 2016, there were...
A Duty to Care

A Duty to Care

Immediate Release: 30th August 2016    EPIC is gravely concerned about the impact the current industrial action in Oberstown Campus is having on children placed in the detention centre. Speaking following the recent industrial action, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following statement: “EPIC is concerned about the impact the current industrial dispute is having on the overall well-being for young people residing on the campus. This is impacting on young people’s ability to attend recreational and educational activities and resulting in them being confined to their rooms for long periods.   EPIC believes that everyone, staff and management and trade unions must work together to resolve the current dispute in order to ensure the safety, welfare and protection of children and everyone on the campus.”          Notes to the Editor EPIC provides a Monthly Visiting Advocacy Service to young people in detention. Ends For all media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact: Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC                     Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 086 607 3866 Email: jennifergargan@epiconline.ie  Website: www.epiconline.ie EPIC (formerly IAYPIC) is an independent association that works throughout the Republic of Ireland, with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have had an experience of living in...
Tusla publishes Annual Report for 2015

Tusla publishes Annual Report for 2015

Immediate Release: 23rd August 2016 Tusla, the Child and Family Agency have today published its annual report for 2015. The report contains key developments by the Agency in 2015 which includes: a 21% reduction of cases awaiting allocation to a Social Worker from 2014 to 2015 and a 65% reduction of high priority cases awaiting allocation to a Social Worker. Last year the Agency received a total of 195 complaints. A breakdown of these complaints listed relate to: Tusla assessments and reports, staff attitudes, limited communication, child protection concerns, placements issues, access arrangements and aftercare. Speaking following publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment: “EPIC welcomes the publication of Tusla’s annual report for 2015. The breakdown of the complaints recorded reflect the issues for young people presenting to our National Advocacy Service where the main presenting issue for young people under 18 continues to be around the suitability or appropriateness of their placement.  EPIC welcomes greater data collation provided by Tusla, in particular that on aftercare. However the experiences of young people show aftercare provision is inconsistent across the country and therefore a greater in-depth analysis of these figures would be useful to identify the nature and extent of Aftercare supports that young people are receiving across the country.”      Tusla’s key commitments for 2016 are outlined in the report which includes reducing cases awaiting allocation by 60% and ensuring that 100% of children in care have an allocated Social Worker. Notes to the Editor To view the issues for young people accessing EPIC’s National Advocacy Service, our latest Advocacy Report is available to read...
National Review Panel Reports identify Key Learnings

National Review Panel Reports identify Key Learnings

Immediate Release: 16th August 2016   The National Review Panel reports published today identify keys learnings following a review of the deaths of young people known to child protection services, some of whom were in State Care. The reports identify gaps in services in particular the lack of co-ordination between service providers. One of the reports published highlights the lack of suitable accommodation for young people experiencing mental health issues, lack of access to mental health services and the limited treatment options available to young people. Speaking following the publication of these reports, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following statement: “One of the key findings from these reports highlights the need for co-ordination and co-operation of services, in particular, between Tusla, mental health and disability services. There needs to be clarity around the key responsibility of each organisation identifying which organisation is the lead organisation particularly when a young person at the age of 18 is transitioning out of care. Some of these cases again highlight the need for every young person in care to have an allocated Social Worker at all times and have regular Statutory Child in Care Reviews. Furthermore all agencies should be trained in order to carry out a proper risk assessment for a young person upon referral to their service.      These reports clearly highlight the need for more specialised foster carers for young people with disabilities in which training and supports should be provided for regularly.     EPIC welcomes the learnings from these reports and reiterates the importance of  these learnings to be implemented into practice in order to protect and provide...
Review of National Aftercare Policy

Review of National Aftercare Policy

This submission aims to inform Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) of the aftercare issues raised by young people through our National Advocacy Service Final Submission to Tusla on Review of National Aftercare...
Submission on Foster Care Committee Policy

Submission on Foster Care Committee Policy

This submission aims to provide input to inform the current review of the HSE Foster Care Committees, Policy, Procedures and Best Practice Guidance from a child rights perspective EPIC submission review of HSE Foster Care Committees Policy, Procedures and Best Practice...
Service Shortages Continue to Put Children at Risk

Service Shortages Continue to Put Children at Risk

Immediate Release: 21st July 2016 The latest HIQA report in the Midlands again raises serious child protection and welfare concerns. The report found that only one national standard of 27 was fully met, 22 standards ‘required improvement’ and four standards were identified as having ‘significant risk’. Key issues identified in the report included; a high number of unallocated cases, where HIQA Inspectors escalated a number of these cases to high priority as a result of the lack of timely and/or appropriate intervention. While it was found that when children were allocated a social worker, they received an adequate service, the report highlights serious deficiencies where the duty team mainly consisted of agency staff. Speaking following publication of the report, CEO of EPIC Jennifer Gargan made the following statement: “Findings from this report are extremely worrying. The report shows how   inexperienced staff are at the coal face of frontline services. It is extremely        concerning that this inspection found the area was still not fully compliant with  Children First. Again, the report highlights that while high risk child protection cases were prioritised, there is a lack of understanding of the chronic, harmful, long term effects of neglect. These cases need timely intervention, however this will only happen when the State adequately resources Tusla and efficient management systems are in place in order to ensure every child referred receives a timely and high quality service.” The report also found inconsistencies in reviewing and implementing findings from serious incidents. Ends The HIQA Inspection report is available to read here https://www.hiqa.ie/social-care/find-a-centre/inspection-reports?field_report_type_centre_value_many_to_one=reportchildrens&keys= (accessed 21/07/16) For all media enquiries or to arrange an interview please...
Yet Again, State Fails to Protect Vulnerable Young People and Adults

Yet Again, State Fails to Protect Vulnerable Young People and Adults

Immediate Release: 15th July 2016 A PrimeTime Investigates programme aired last night highlights serious concerns for young people with disabilities who have been in State Care. One of the key issues identified in the report were the absence of care files for these vulnerable young people. Speaking following the publication of HIQA reports earlier this week and the airing of the PrimeTime programme last night, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following statement: “We at EPIC are gravely concerned about the vulnerabilities of young people with disabilities living in State Care particularly as they reach the age of 18. Young people in State Care have little or no familial supports and are more vulnerable to abuse because of their disabilities. These young people should be afforded the greatest protection by the State, who as Corporate Parent has a responsibility for their care and protection.   Through EPIC’s National Advocacy Service, we have experience of young people falling through the cracks particularly upon transitioning into adulthood. There are an increasing number of referrals to our Advocacy Service, where there are no suitable follow-on placements for young people with disabilities upon leaving care at 18. In some of these cases, young people have only two options: access homeless services or return home, where in some circumstances, this may not be appropriate.”     It is vital proper protocols are in place as young people transition into adult services. Clarity on roles and responsibilities between Tusla and HSE Disability Services is required in order to ensure that no young person falls between the gaps. EPIC believes that every child with a disability...
Latest HIQA Detention Report: Some Progress, Lots More to Do

Latest HIQA Detention Report: Some Progress, Lots More to Do

Immediate Release: 22/06/16 The latest HIQA Inspection for Oberstown Campus identified only one standard being fully met. The report highlights positives such as the promotion of children’s rights, as well as young people being aware of their right to complain. However, there were also a number of concerns outlined such as the ineffective management of children’s challenging behaviours, risks associated with restrictive practices, not addressing offending behaviour and poor placement planning. Speaking following the publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment: “EPIC welcomes the initiative taken by management to hear the views of young people on a weekly basis and the proposed development of a Young Person’s Council. The development of a Young Person’s Council should provide a formal structure for young people to raise their issues collectively and bring their views to senior management to afford them the opportunity to address issues arising. However, EPIC is very concerned that in some cases young people subject to a statutory Care Orders are leaving detention with no identified follow-up placements, where these young people are being advised of only two options-to seek homeless services or return home. These options are totally inappropriate and unacceptable as these young people are in the care of the State. As corporate parent, Tusla has responsibility in ensuring that young people have an appropriate and safe placement.  Proper planning, suitable placements and follow-on supports should be available to these young people.”   EPIC is also concerned that not all children had up-to-date placement plans. The report highlights that plans were not always timely, children’s needs were not clearly documented...
Cherish our Children Equally?

Cherish our Children Equally?

Immediate Release: 2nd June 2016 The Annual Overview Report on the Inspection and Regulation of Children’s Services 2015 has found inconsistencies in the quality of service provision for children and young people throughout the country. The report identified that the quality of service a young person received was largely dependent on the area they lived in. Further issues of concerns raised in the annual report include: long waiting lists for assessments, quality of assessments, children not being allocated social workers in a timely manner and delays in notifications of alleged abuse to An Garda Síochána. The report highlighted some positives such as children being aware of their rights. There was a high value placed on education in foster care services and timely support when children experienced difficulties in school. There were also improved systems in relation to care planning for children in detention. Speaking following publication of the report, Director of EPIC commented: “Every child and young person in Ireland should have equitable access to services. It should not be a post-code lottery. The report clearly highlights the need for all areas to have proper management and monitoring systems to meet the goals of the National Model of Service Delivery in order to provide a high quality service to our children and young people.   At the end of 2015, 21.5% of child protection and welfare cases were unallocated which is extremely worrying. All children should be allocated a Social Worker in a timely manner. The report again reiterates the need for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, to be adequately resourced in order to fulfil its role.”      Notes...
 

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