Information about living in care

High Proportion of Unplanned Placement Endings

High Proportion of Unplanned Placement Endings

A HIQA Inspection report of a private fostering care service provider released today highlights a considerable number of placements for children in care ending in an unplanned manner. While the inspection outlines how many children were happy and well cared for, poor matching of children with foster carers and training needs and supports of foster carers were linked to these placement breakdowns.

Speaking today, Director of EPIC Jennifer Gargan commented:

“Despite the positive experiences of quality care for many children, the report highlights that approximately one quarter of placements for children broke down over this period with no reasons outlined as to why these placements terminated and no steps to prevent this from re-occurring…

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EPIC goes into the West!

EPIC goes into the West!

Diary Notice: EPIC Goes Into the West!     When: Monday, February 15th from 2pm-5pm Where: ILAS Building, NUIG, Galway.    Immediate Release: 11th February 2016 EPIC will launch its National Advocacy Service in the West region on the 15th of February 2016. The aim of EPIC is to raise issues of concern for children in care and promote young people’s participation in decisions relating to their care. The expansion of EPIC’s Advocacy Service in the West means children and young people in care in this region will have easier access to an independent Advocate. Speaking prior to the launch of the service, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan commented: “The aim of EPIC’s advocacy service is to ensure that every child in care has an opportunity to be heard. We have experienced an increasing number of referrals as our Service continues to grow. The expansion of our service in this area will provide for an accessible, equitable and direct 1:1 advocacy service for young people locally based in the West region.   EPIC’s role is to empower young people in care and ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard both at an individual and systemic level; to impact on change within the care system.”  The goals of EPIC are to ensure that the participation of young people in care is promoted, that young people’s rights are upheld and young people are able to access services and resources they require. Ends There are currently 6,346 children in the care system in Ireland. Of these 1,460 children and young people are in care in the West. (Figures from Tusla as of... read more
Every child must have a voice

Every child must have a voice

The recent revelations that two young women with intellectual disabilities were left in an abusive foster care home despite evidence that it was unsafe again highlights the exceptional vulnerability of our children in the care of the state. The fact that over 40 children with disabilities were placed in this foster care home needs us to re-examine how we ensure that every child in Ireland is protected and safeguarded, in particular those children most vulnerable-children in the care of the state and children who are literally without a voice. EPIC, as the only organisation that specifically advocates on behalf of children and young people in State Care, knows the importance of listening to each child individually and the significance of having a strong relationship with an independent Advocate as a protective factor against abuse. In 2009 the Ryan Report made robust recommendations to ensure that every child has a voice, however, the findings of the PAC Committee have illustrated that this has simply not been the case where the abuse of one woman with an intellectual disability occurred up until as recently as 2013. It is important, and indeed necessary, for these young women and their families to receive an official apology, an acknowledgement of the wrong that has been done to them. However, even of greater importance is the necessity to have an independent investigation of how and why this abuse of vulnerable young people was allowed to happen and continue for many years. It is necessary in order to understand how it happened and to prevent it happening now or ever again. As a matter of routine... read more
Standardised National Aftercare Allowance

Standardised National Aftercare Allowance

Tusla has introduced a Standardised National Aftercare Allowance for young people who have been in care for 12 months on their 16th birthday or for 12 consecutive months prior to their 18th birthday. The weekly standardised allowance is €300 per week  Information (below) from Tusla 1. How is the Aftercare Allowance determined? Every young person as part of their preparation for leaving care will have an Individual Financial Support Plan. This plan will be completed in advance of the young person turning 18 years of age. The plan takes account of all financial supports available to care leavers and is reviewed as part of aftercare planning. 2. What is an Individual Aftercare Financial Support Plan? An Individual Aftercare Financial Support Plan is an assessment of the financial needs of a young person. It is a standardised tool to assist in identifying all the financial support requirements for each young person. The Individual Financial Support will document all financial supports available to care leavers and financial supports required. It is expected that all care leavers will have access to an income of a minimum allowance of €300 per week. The €300 may be a combined amount from other departments/ agencies or may be paid in full or partly by Tusla. More information: Click here to view the full Guidance Document for the Implementation of the Standardised Aftercare... read more
Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2013

Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2013

Full Report> Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2013  (PDF) This report gives an overview of the EPIC Advocacy cases in 2013. It presents a profile of the young people who sought advocacy support, identifies the main presenting issues and key actions taken by EPIC to address their concerns. The aim of EPIC’s advocacy work is to empower children in care and young people with care experience to have a say in issues that significantly affect their lives. The nature of EPIC’s role can vary from providing basic information, for example, in relation to social welfare entitlements, to providing practical support, such as assisting a young person to find an education course or appropriate accommodation. At the highest level of engagement, one of the EPIC Advocacy team may be asked by a young person to represent their views on their behalf, for example, by attending a care or aftercare review meeting. This is the fifth annual report on EPIC Advocacy cases, the first of which was in 2009. The number of Advocacy cases has increased substantially over these five years – from 61 in 2009 to 241 in 2013. In October 2012, EPIC employed five additional staff members including a National Advocacy Service Manager and four Advocacy Officers (two for the Dublin Mid-Leinster region and two for the Southern region). This has increased EPIC’s capacity to take on new Advocacy cases, which has certainly contributed to the rise of Advocacy cases. Nevertheless, there has been a real increase in the number of referrals being made to EPIC and an ever increasing demand for advocacy support. The data presented in this report... read more

RYAN REPORT-SIX YEARS ON, WHAT’S CHANGED?

Immediate Release: 20th May 2015  Today marks the sixth anniversary of the publication of the Ryan Report. The publication of the fourth and final progress report was submitted to the Oireachtas in March of this year. Despite progress since 2009, a number of actions recommended in the progress report remain incomplete or lack implementation on the ground. Speaking today, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan, highlighted EPIC’s concerns: “It has been six years since the horrendous findings of the Ryan Report were published. The Government then made a commitment to ensure that all children, especially our most vulnerable children would be protected to the highest standard.   Whilst we have witnessed some positive changes for children since the publication of the Ryan Report, a lot remains to be done. As a national advocacy organisation working with young people in State Care, there are a number of key issues that remain problematic. Many young people are still without an a allocated social worker, despite the recruitment of 270 social workers. This is in the context that there are more young people in care today than there were in 2009.   Aftercare services continue to be ad hoc, and in some cases, there continues to be a lack of care and placement planning. As a result, many young people engaging with our service feel that their voices are not heard in decisions made about their lives, and do not feel prepared to live independently at 18 years of age.    One of the key recommendations outlined in the Ryan Report includes a once-off life skills programme for young people leaving care, however... read more
Experience of Aftercare

Experience of Aftercare

From a young care leaver discussing her experience of Aftercare: I had a great after-care experience. I was aware of my after care plan. When going into aftercare I was a bit nervous at first but when I moved in I settled in fine. My experience was amazing because I had the support from both my after care worker and the previous staff that worked in my previous residential unit. I am currently in full time education and living in a private accommodation .I also have a financial package that is put in place for my wellbeing .My advice for other young people is that young people need to be aware of their after-care plan and also need to have an understanding of what an after care plan is all... read more

Care Questions Answered

Your Care Questions Answered Care Questions Answered Here are some questions you might have about being taken into care, or life in care. What is state care? State Care means you are placed in care after a Judge decides that this is in your best interests.  This can happen if that your parents are unable to give you the care you need to keep you safe and protected at home. If you are taken into care you could live in: Foster Care This is living with Foster Parents that care for children and look after you in their home Relative Care This is living with a family member such as a Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle or another member of your family where they will care and look after you in their home. Residential Care This is living in a house with other young people in care and residential care staff. Who is the Child & Family Agency or Tusla? Tusla, also known as the Child and Family Agency was established on the 1st January 2014 and is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving the wellbeing and outcomes for children. The Child and Family Agency is responsible for providing supports and services to families and protecting children and young people. How can I be taken into care? A decision can be made your parents or by a Judge that it is not safe for you at home and therefore State Care is the best option for you. Voluntary Care: Voluntary care is when your parents agree with The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) that the best option for you is... read more

Advocacy

Advocacy Video- EPIC Advocacy ServiceWhat is Advocacy?Why would I need an advocate? How will my advocate help me? How do I get an advocate? What is advocacy? Advocacy means supporting you to: Be heard Have a voice Know your rights Take part in the decisions that are being made about your life Find out answers to any questions you may have Understand the complaints system Why would I need an advocate?  If you want some information or advice If you would like help to speak up about an issue that affects you If you would like somebody to attend a meeting with you If you would like help to ask for a service If you need support with any other issues If you want to make a complaint How will my advocate help me?  Firstly, your advocate will listen to you. Then with your permission your advocate might …. Help you write  a letter Speak to somebody on your behalf Attend a meeting with you Help you to make a complaint Support you to speak up about decisions in your life Find out information Help you to understand what is being said How do I get an advocate? Firstly, it is your decision if you want an advocate to work with you. You (or somebody else on your behalf can contact the EPIC office by phone, text, email or letter) The Advocacy Manager or Advocate will then contact you to see how they can help you. Top Advocacy Issues presented to EPIC Care placement 33% Care or aftercare plan 17% Family Contact 14% Education 13% Accommodation 12% Other issues... read more

Your Rights in Care

Your Rights in Care  What are my Rights if I am taken into Care?   You have a number of rights if taken into care. The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) has a duty to make sure that all decisions about your care are made in your best interests. You have the right to have your views heard when decisions are being made about you being in care. For more, see Your Care Questions  Know your Rights!   All children and adults have rights. These are known as Human Rights. As children you have your own set of rights called The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (the CRC). Children and young people have a special set of rights because being young sometimes makes you more vulnerable and in special need of care and protection. HIQA - National Childrens standards Find out more Learn More about Rights http://www.childrensrights.ie/childrens-rights-ireland/childrens-rights-ireland http://childrensrights.ie/childrens-rights-ireland/un-convention-rights-child Summary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The United nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) outlines the rights that children across the world have and sets out what governments must do to ensure that children everywhere have a good life. http://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/information_sheets/files/SummaryUNCRC.pdf Read the full text of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child There are 4 main rights that are important to children in care:  Article 6: Survival and Development You have the right to life.    Article 2: Non-Discrimination You have the right to protection against discrimination. This means that nobody can treat you badly because of your colour, sex, religion, if you... read more
Pathways – Guide to Leaving Care

Pathways – Guide to Leaving Care

Download the Guide (PDF) PATHWAYS is an aftercare guide that has been created for young people who are preparing to leave care by young people who have left care. Within this guide there are full and detailed sections telling you everything you need to know for leaving care and assisting you towards finding a place of your own. Those of us who have made this transition before have shared our experience through the consultation in the early stages of preparing this guide. Professionals from the agencies who have for many years worked with care leavers also contributed their experiences gained from supporting young people during this exciting and sometimes scary time. The Pathways aftercare guide has been published jointly by EPIC, Focus Ireland and Empower Ireland - Jan 2013. Download the Guide... read more
‘It’s about me’ – Report on Care Reviews

‘It’s about me’ – Report on Care Reviews

‘It’s about me’ - Young People’s experience of participating in their care reviews. Research report (2014) Care reviews are an integral part of the care planning process which involve making decisions about aspects of young people’s welfare while in State care, for example issues concerning their current placement, extent of family contact, education/schooling etc. The main aim of this EPIC research study is to explore young people’s experiences of participating in their care reviews, which includes preparation for the care review meeting,the actual meeting itself and feedback given to young people following the meeting. The report is available as a PDF here ( NB: If the file doesn’t open for you, you may need a free PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader installed on your device first to read... read more
Aftercare

Aftercare

Aftercare life after care and leaving care Get the 'Pathways' Aftercare guide PATHWAYS is an aftercare guide that has been created for young people who are preparing to leave care by young people who have left care. Go What is an Aftercare Plan? An Aftercare Plan  in an individual plan based on a young person’s skills and needs and follows on from their preparation for leaving care plan. It outlines the types of supports available to a young person in aftercare and outline who will support them. Aftercare Plans  work best, and have the most positive results for young people, if they become involved in the planning of the aftercare plan with your social worker, aftercare worker and carers. Small grants for care leavers may be available from Careleavers Ireland What is Aftercare? Aftercare is support provided to young people leaving care who have been assessed as having an aftercare need to ease their transition to independence. Aftercare services can support young people up to 21 years of age, or 23 years of age if in full-time education. While you have the right to aftercare services, it’s your choice to take part, if you choose not to take part in aftercare support to begin with, you can change your mind at any time up until you turn 21 years of age. It’s important to know that aftercare work is done a little differently depending on which Health Service Executive (HSE) area you live in e.g. the age at which your aftercare work begins can vary. If you are unsure about the situation in your area speak to your social worker. Standardised... read more
Submission to the Joint Committee on Health and Children – Heads of Aftercare Bill 2014

Submission to the Joint Committee on Health and Children – Heads of Aftercare Bill 2014

Key Concerns: Lack of detail concerning needs assessments. Assessment is key to any successful plan, and it is vital that this is not left to Regulations. Absence of implementation process, including timeframe for implementation, accountability for implementation, and review process. Young people leaving care lack skills or support networks for independent living. The most vulnerable young people leaving care are those not in education. Housing Crisis – more accommodation needed in Dublin and weighting system. Aftercare supports should be extended to 25 years, in line with remit of DCYA and National Children and Young People’s Framework. The provision of aftercare is not the sole responsibility of the CFA, and cross departmental coordination is vital. There is no mention of the Leaving and Aftercare Services National Policy and Procedure Document. Consistent language must be used in the Bill and be congruent with the Leaving and Aftercare Services National Policy and Procedure Document. EPIC welcomes the opportunity to respond to the General Scheme and Heads of Aftercare Bill 2014 and this submission is to provide additional information and to accompany the oral presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee made by EPIC on the 1st of April 2014 at 5:15pm. Overall, EPIC supports many aspects of this progressive Heads of Aftercare Bill. It provides long overdue legislative footing to the provision of Aftercare, and adds to the many good building blocks that have already been established. EPIC, along with other organisations, and as part of the Action for Aftercare group, has been calling for Aftercare to be provided in legislation for many years.  Any aftercare service must be equitable, consistent, and standardised.... read more

Newstalk Interview

From our archive - Radio interview on Newstalk (2013) About EPIC Advocacy Service and Aftercare and Leaving Care issues, talking to Danielle and Mark about their experiences. (Click below to play) http://www.epiconline.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/newstalk-interview.mp4 Originally Posted by EPIC on Monday, 13 May... read more
Research on outcomes for young people leaving care in North Dublin

Research on outcomes for young people leaving care in North Dublin

‘My voice has to be heard’ Outcomes_for_young_people_leaving_care_in_North_Dublin_2012 This research study aims to contribute to a better understanding of the issues facing young people when they leave care. This report aims to answer three main research questions. What are the needs and circumstances of young people aged 17-18 who leave care in North Dublin? What factors are associated with more positive outcomes for young people? What are young people’s experiences of receiving aftercare supports? The full report is now available to download as a PDF file (you will need to have a free PDF reader such as Adobe installed). ‘MY VOICE HAS TO BE HEARD’ Research on outcomes for young people leaving care in North Dublin Fiona Daly EPIC Research Officer June 2012 © 2012‘MY VOICE HAS TO BE HEARD’ Research on outcomes for young people leaving care in North Dublin Fiona Daly EPIC Research Officer July... read more
Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2012

Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2012

Full Report> Report on EPIC Advocacy Cases 2012 This report presents detailed information on the characteristics of young people who engaged with EPIC’s Advocacy Service in 2012. 2012 has witnessed a levelling-off of advocacy cases where there were 123 advocacy cases on a par to 2011. However, as identified in this report, the duration of advocacy cases has increased for example, 22% of advocacy cases lasted for over six months in 2012 compared to just 9% in 2011. In late October 2012, EPIC employed 5 additional staff members including: 1 National Advocacy Service Manager, 2 new Advocacy Officers for the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster region and 2 new Advocacy Officers for the HSE South region. During this period (late October-December 2012), there were 29 referrals recorded. The aim of EPIC’s advocacy work is to empower children and care leavers to have a say and be heard in issues that significantly affect their lives. The nature of the Advocacy role can comprise varying levels of involvement by EPIC. At the most basic level, it may involve finding out information requested by the young person, for example, in relation to welfare rights, housing rights or regarding aftercare options available. A young person may also contact EPIC looking for practical or emotional support, for example, a young adult may need assistance in finding suitable accommodation. At the highest level of engagement, one of the EPIC Advocacy team may be required to advocate, or represent the young person’s views with them or on their behalf, for example, by attending a care/ aftercare review meeting or a court hearing. The data in this report focuses on... read more

CHILDREN IN CARE – OVERVIEW BRIEFING DOCUMENT

The predominant reasons children are admitted into the care of the HSE include: neglect/ physical abuse of a child; a parent unable to cope; a family member abusing drugs/alcohol; a child with emotional/behavioural problems. There has been a consistent increase in the total number of children in care in the last decade.  Over the past ten years 200 000 children and young people have been referred to child protection services, of which 20 000 were recorded as having child protection needs.  There are nearly 6000 children in care, of which the majority of children are in foster care.  It must be noted that there is a deficit of data on children in the care system and their outcomes. ..Read More (full PDF document below) Attachments Briefing Document_Overview Children in Care_FINAL... read more

Briefing Document Aftercare

 Aftercare is a process of preparation and support for leaving care and moving to independent living for all those young people who are or have been in the care of the State. [1]    It is the provision of advice, guidance and assistance with regard to social and emotional support, accommodation and vocational support.  It is a through-care process, in consultation with the young person, beginning from reception into care and includes comprehensive assessments, care plans and reviews.[2] In the absence of a supportive family network, those leaving care experience more acutely the transition to independent living.  An effective aftercare policy strengthens the position of a young person leaving care, supports their transition to independent living and reduces the likelihood of homelessness, and social exclusion on leaving care. [1] There is no standard definition of aftercare. [2] Youth Homelessness Strategy Monitoring Committee ..Read More (full PDF document below) Attachments Briefing Document Aftercare... read more
 

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