Child Care Act 1991
The primary legislation regulating child care policy is the Child Care Act 1991 which brought in considerable changes in relation to children in care. Until the main part of the Act was implemented in 1995, child care policy had been regulated by the 1908 Children Act. The philosophy behind the 1991 Act is that families and children should be supported with the aim of enabling the child to be brought up within his or her own family.
This Act provides the legislative basis for dealing with children in need of care, protection, and the promotion of the child’s welfare. It also places a specific duty on the Health Service Executive to identify children who are not receiving adequate care and protection and, in promoting their welfare, to provide child care and family support services. This Act underpins the basic tenet that the welfare of the child is of paramount importance
Child Care (Amendment) Act 2007
The Children Act 2001
The law which deals with children found in breach of the criminal law is contained in the Children Act 2001 which was amended by the Criminal Justice Act 20067.
The Children Act 2001 became law in July 2001 and since then most of the provisions of the 2001 Act and the amendments have been brought into force. The 2001 legislation is based on the philosophy that children in conflict with the law should only be detained by the state as a last resort.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1992. This convention contains rights relating to every aspect of children’s lives including the right to survival, development, protection and participation. The underlying principles of the Convention can be summarised as:
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that this State strengthen its efforts to provide follow up and aftercare to young person’s leaving care. The UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children explain the State’s obligations, and specifically state that:
- The State should, throughout the period of a child’s care, aim at preparing the child to assume self reliance and to integrate fully in the community through the acquisition of social and life skills.
- The process of transition from care to aftercare should include counselling and support, and that young people leaving care should be encouraged to take part in planning for aftercare.
- Both the public and private sectors should be encouraged to employ children from care services.
- Special efforts should be made to ensure that a young person leaving care has a person who can help facilitate his/her independent living.
- Aftercare arrangements should be prepared as early as possible.
- Ongoing educational and vocational training opportunities should be part of the young person’s life skill education so as to help them to become financially independent.
 Available at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1991/en/act/pub/0017/index.html (13.12.10).
 UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, paras 130-135; available at: http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/Focus-areas/Children-and-family/Family-based-child-care/Documents/SOSpublication-Guidelines-AlternativeCare.pdf (05.01.11).