Educational needs of children in care

Co-Authored Letter published in the Irish Times of September 22nd 2020 Sir, – A high-level national working group to address the cross-departmental responsibilities of the State to children in care, with a specific focus on meeting their holistic educational needs in a coordinated way, across all age levels, is urgently needed to address the current glaring strategic gap in the education system on this issue. The majority of children in the care of the State (under Tusla) live with foster carers. According to current Tusla figures, there are 6,029 children in care, of which 92.1 per cent were placed in foster care (26.3 per cent of those in foster care being placed in relative foster care). It is estimated that in every primary school in Ireland there is at least one young person in that school who is in care, and in every secondary school there are between four and five young people in care. Key issues need to be considered at an official level by an interdepartmental group across the Department of Education and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Clarity is needed on which ministry is responsible for leading state policy regarding children in the care of the State, and which ministries share or have responsibility, at any level, for children in the care of the State. It is a concern that children in care may be overrepresented in the suspension and exclusion groups. As children in care experience trauma, loss and attachment difficulties, there is a lack of school-based emotional counselling and therapeutic supports for this and other vulnerable groups. Other additional mentoring supports in schools...

COVID-19 EPIC Services Update

Updated on: 2nd September 2020 We have not stopped working! The EPIC team has continued to work through the COVID crisis. Are you a Young Person concerned about COVID-19 the Corona Virus? Steps to Protect Yourself and Others As Ireland responds to the challenge of Covid-19, EPIC is committed to continuing to provide our services for children and young people in care and with care experience. Team members are working remotely while following all national guidelines on COVID19. We are attending face to face meetings with children, young people and other professionals on a priority basis - meetings that do not meet the criteria for priority are being conducted on-line. We are also following a strict risk-assessment for all face to face meetings. Referrals to EPIC can be made online (https://www.epiconline.ie/advocacy-forms/) or by telephone 01 872 7661 We will review our roadmap for returning to offices again after the next Government review on September 14th If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01 872 7661 We would like to say a sincere Thank You to our team for their commitment, dedication and flexibility in this very challenging time. Information and contact details for our services and our teams can be found throughout this...

EPIC Pride

#EpicPride Pride 2020 Events Schedule of Events ? EPIC are supporting the rights and experiences of LGBT+ children and young people in care and with care experience The chosen hastag is #EpicPride and we ask that you upload your picture of support to social media on the day of Pride only (27th) and also nominate others via social media to do the same. Our Facebook event is here A number of fun Zoom events have been organised, including a Pride movie night, stay at home Scavenger Hunt, Pride Baking, Pride Makeup Tutorial, Pride Quiz and more! See our schedule of events for more info Please note that for all of these events, anyone who would like to take part, will need to contact suzanneobrien@epiconline.ie to register their interest for the event(s) as the zoom link will only be sent to people who have expressed their interest in attending. For security and confidentiality, links will not be posted online and attendance at any zoom event will be by direct invite only. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. View Schedule of Events Pride 2020 Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) FollowFollowFollowFollow [/et_pb_sidebar] #EpicPride - schedule of events Skateboarding tutorial - mon 22ND PRIDE - Get Baking! EPIC PRIDE QUIZ - wED 24th June PRIDE Makeup Tutorial PRIDE Movie Night - Friday 26th @ 7pm STAY AT HOME SCAVENGER HUNT - 27TH JUNE #EpicPride - 27th - Show your Support! #EpicPride -POSTER #EpicPride - Supporting LGBT+ Children & Young...

EPIC’s Phased Return to Work – Road Map to Recovery

EPIC’s Phased Return to Work – Road Map to Recovery We hope that this finds you and your family well. Through our work we know that this has been a very worrying and uncertain time for children, young people, their families, carers and those supporting them. In response to the Covid-19 crisis many services were adversely affected and face to face support was replaced with online support, which over the next number of weeks will be gradually phased out and normal operations will return. In line with our return to normal operations and government guidelines, we would like to keep you informed on how our service will continue to respond to the needs of children and young people in care and with care experience in the coming months. On this page you’ll find our ‘Road Map to Recovery’ and accompanying information that highlights the stages of our return to work and how this support will be provided. Due to the nature of participation and group dynamics, our National Youth Council will continue remotely during this time. EPIC has also set up a dedicated phone helpline which was launched on the of March 31st. The helpline is specifically for children and young people in care and with care experience to provide them with direct access to an Advocacy Officer to support them with any queries or concerns that may arise for them during this time. The line will be open 2 days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4 pm, please call 01 9631272 Road Map to Recovery 12.06.20 View EPIC's Road Map to Recovery...

Proposed abolition of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs

11th June 2020 Proposed abolition of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs When the Department of Children and Youth Affairs was established, the decision demonstrated the vision of Government: that growing up in Ireland means you have the best start in life available anywhere in the world – has that vision changed? Our States long history of failing children and youth, and especially those placed in the care of the State, has only begun to be addressed, and the establishment of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs was an important symbolic and practical milestone on this journey. Children and young people in care and with care experience, represented by EPIC Empowering People In Care, remain one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. While we, as a State, still don’t collate information on outcomes for children and young people in the care system, despite the recommendation of the Ryan Report (now more than ten years ago) we know from other jurisdictions that outcomes for children and young people in care and with care experience, are generally less favourable than for other children and young people outside of the care system including: Mental health and emotional wellbeing Educational achievement Vulnerability to poor physical health and early pregnancies Economic and social disadvantage Involvement in crime or substance misuse both as children and adults Children and young people still have a long way to go in garnering a significant voice in society and, while positive change in attitudes to children and young people has accelerated in the past few decades, the privilege of being a participatory child or young...

A Survey of Children’s Residential Care Services in Ireland during the COVID-19 crisis

A survey undertaken to assess the impact of COVID19 on staff and children in residential care. The survey sought to document the challenges arising for children and staff as a result of the COVID19 restrictions, the impact on work practices, the need for increased or additional support and any innovative practices emerging as a result of the crisis Read the full report (PDF) Get Report...

EPIC support mental health champions Pieta House

Press Release May 5th 2020 EPIC supported mental health champions Pieta House to raise awareness of mental health difficulties faced by some of society’s most vulnerable – Children in Care and Care Leavers With the annual event of ‘Darkness Into Light’ behind us, we find ourselves in a reflective, emotive and hopeful time. This annual event struck a deep chord with the EPIC team and with the EPIC National Youth Council who this year sadly lost a true champion with the passing of a friend and colleague Shane Griffin. For those of you who do not know Shane, we can tell you that he was a true friend to everyone he met, a loving and devoted father with the biggest and kindest heart. Shane spent much of his adult life passionately advocating for improving the experiences of children in care and care leavers as a result of his own traumatic experience of state care. This year we did not just lose a friend but an ambassador for our care community, one whose dedication, authenticity and commitment to improve the lives of children in care and care leavers cannot be replaced. While Shane’s passing was a deeply troubling time for members of our care community and those that support them, the sad reality faced us all that, as professionals, we know all too many care leavers who have not been adequately supported to overcome their trauma and in turn are struggling immensely as adults who have now ‘left the system’. On Saturday morning, May 9th at 05.30am members of the EPIC National Youth Council and the EPIC staff team spent time...

New Advocacy Phone Support Service

New Advocacy Phone Support Service  In response to our current circumstances we are pleased to announce the launch of our dedicated Advocacy Phone Support Service, for Children in Care and Care Leavers on 01-9631272 The line will be open 2 days a week on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 2-4 pm, from Tuesday 31st of March. This service is being offered to provide those in care and with care experience direct access to an Advocacy Officer to support them with any queries or concerns that may arise for them during this time. We are mindful that calls to landlines may be expensive for children and care leavers. If you can’t call us directly, you can send us a private message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or text us on 087-9036598 and request a call back from an Advocacy Officer. Important:  NEVER leave your phone number, name or address in a public post on social media. Use a private message only. Please note that call-backs will only be made between 2-4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 01-9631272 Open Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2pm-4pm. Can’t call us? We’ll call you! You can text us to request a call back on 087-9036598...

EPIC services in response to COVID-19 guidance

Following all HSE and government guidelines with regard to the COVID-19 crisis, EPIC will continue to provide services as normal, as far as possible, given the restrictions set by these guidelines. The EPIC Crisis Communication Team is continuously monitoring the ongoing situation, as it affects our services, and will respond and adapt as necessary, placing the best interests of the children and young people we serve at the centre of all decisions made. In the event that we have to close any of our offices, we have contingency plans in place for our team to work remotely and all of our staff will be contactable by email and phone at all...

Concerned about the Corona Virus?

Concerned about the Corona Virus? In response to concerns expressed by Young People to members of the EPIC team, about the threat of Corona Virus (COVID-19) here are some practical steps to take, to protect yourself and others. We encourage you to follow the hand washing technique recommended in this Video For younger children, this PDF booklet and workbook on the Corona Virus can be downloaded and printed, to help them understand and work through any worries they may have.   Download Children's Booklet Watch Video I have been to an affected region in the last 14-days I’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case I’ve been in close contact with a probable case I HAVE symptoms 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. I DO NOT HAVE symptoms No restrictions are necessary, go about your daily routine as normal. You may be required to self-isolate. Check with your health care provider. Work from home unless you develop symptoms. No restrictions are necessary unless:   a)your healthcare provider recommends...

EPIC Chief Executive Officer Vacancy

EPIC Chief Executive Officer JOB DESCRIPTION            What We Do EPIC Empowering People In Care (EPIC) aims to advance the interests and welfare of children and young people in the care system by advocating on their behalf, providing information and advice, providing opportunities for participation and influencing through regional and national councils and developing policies on and conducting research into issues affecting children and young people in the care system. For the past twenty one years, the focus of our work is to improve the lived experience of children and young people in the care system and positively contribute to the development of care services locally, nationally and internationally for the benefit of children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them. What We Are Looking For We are looking for a highly motivated efficient and strategic leader who can lead EPIC into the next phase of our development and growth. The role requires strategic thinking as well as an ability to drive the operational performance of EPIC. Working with a small team and stakeholders, the role requires a flexible and ‘can do’ attitude. You will have experience in leading small and agile organisations, an understanding of the children and young people in care and aftercare, with a strong track record of diversifying income streams. You will be able to demonstrate excellent understanding of the power of advocacy, communication and campaigns focused on a changed care system that better meets the needs of all children and young people in care. You will be comfortable in bringing the message of EPIC’s work to a wider audience....

#CAREDAY20 – A Global Celebration of Children in Care

Press Release February 21st 2020 #CareDay20 A GLOBAL CELEBRATION OF CHILDREN IN CARE – FEBRUARY 21st, 2020 Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young adults in care or with care experience. This community of children and young adults deserve to be celebrated, on Care Day, and every day! EPIC is hosting a range of events around the country to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.org/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be celebrating Care Day 2020 on the 21st of February. It is an initiative of the ‘5 Nations 1 Voice Alliance’ – an alliance made up of five children’s rights charities across the U.K. and Ireland: Become in England, EPIC in Ireland, VOYPIC in Northern Ireland, Voices from Care in Wales, and Who Cares? Scotland. This year we are also joined in our celebrations by Finland, Spain, Croatia, Romania, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia. It is such an exciting and positive day internationally, and each year it is growing. Care Day is a day where we are asking you to show your support, get vocal, get social and get involved in celebrating the successes and positive achievements of all children and young adults in care or with care experience.” EPIC is delighted that Care Day 2020 will be formally launched by Tusla’s Child and Family Agency’s CEO, Bernard Gloster, from St. Laurence’s Church TU Dublin, Grangegorman, City Campus, from 10am to 12 noon. Be part of changing the story for children and young people in care...

The Care Experience Podcast

The Care Experience Podcast is explores the experiences of people who grew up in the care system from all over the world. It is presented by a care-leaver Thomas Mongan and an Advocate Peter Lane. It is brought to you by EPIC empowering people in care, an Irish Advocacy and Participation Charity. The Podcast aims to raise awareness and fight stigma by giving a platform to people who know the most about the care-system: the people who experienced it first hand. Episode 6 - Feb 20th 2020 In this episode of The Care Experience, Thomas and Peter visit the Headquarters of the Irish Child and Family Agency, TUSLA. They have a candid and frank discussion with TUSLA CEO, Bernard Gloster about what is going well in the Irish Care System and what is not going so well. They discuss the aftercare service, fostering and homelessness. They also talk about the need for kindness and creativity to be part of children in care’s life. Episode 4 - Feb 16th 2020 This podcast contains an interview with the Irish Times columnist Patrick Freyne about media bias and stereotyping. There is also an interview with Australian Activist and Care-Leaver, Leilani Houston about the Australian care system. Episode 3 - Feb 13th 2020 In this episode, Thomas and Peter interview Suzanne O’ Brien about the EPIC Youth Council and the work that they do. There is also an in depth discussion with Dutch Play-wright and Care-leaver about her work with young people understanding and getting through their trauma using the means of drama. Episode 2 - Feb 12th 2020 In this episode, Thomas...

Press Release – EPIC’s manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020

Press Release Monday February 3rd 2020 EPIC’s Manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020 6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care #GE2020 #EPICManifesto With the general election less than a week away - we need to make sure that the next government does much more for children in the care system. We are calling on all those who will be elected to the 33rd Dail to prioritise children in care and with care experience in the next Programme for Government. Please share our Election Manifesto and get behind us in promoting our key asks. EPIC is calling for: 1. The Right to Independent Advocacy: All children in care and with care experience should have a right to independent advocacy. The right to independent advocacy for all children and young adults in the care system must be enshrined in legislation. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents the optimal time for this. 2. To Extend the Age Limit for Aftercare: EPIC calls for a full review of the Aftercare system including the extension of the upper age limit for aftercare support to 26 years of age. 3. To Improve Data Collation: Increase data collated and published on children in care and include a longitudinal study on children in care into adulthood. Data on educational outcomes for children in care from primary, secondary, post leaving cert and 3rd level education is essential. This data should be benchmarked against children and young people in the general population to see where additional supports are needed to improve outcomes of children in care and beyond....

EPIC’s manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020-6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care

EPIC’s Manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020 6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care #GE2020 #EPICManifesto EPIC is calling for: 1. The Right to Independent Advocacy: All children in care and with care experience should have a right to independent advocacy. The right to independent advocacy for all children and young adults in the care system must be enshrined in legislation. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents the optimal time for this. 2. To Extend the Age Limit for Aftercare: EPIC calls for a full review of the Aftercare system including the extension of the upper age limit for aftercare support to 26 years of age. 3. To Improve Data Collation: Increase data collated and published on children in care and include a longitudinal study on children in care into adulthood. Data on educational outcomes for children in care from primary, secondary, post leaving cert and 3rd level education is essential. This data should be benchmarked against children and young people in the general population to see where additional supports are needed to improve outcomes of children in care and beyond. 4. To Improve Mental Health Support: All children and young adults in care must be provided with a variety of dedicated mental health supports, including therapeutic support, to enable them to deal with their experience of trauma and to help them to build appropriate coping skills and resilience. The State must provide all necessary supports and interventions within the state and immediately stop sending children and young people outside of this jurisdiction for specialist care. Dual supports to...

20 Years of EPIC: A Social Workers’ Reflection

It’s our 20th Anniversary and we are celebrating 20 years of being EPIC by posting articles every month about EPIC. This month is an article written by Aoife Gilligan Quinn   It was a role as a mental health and criminal justice advocacy worker in London which lead me to choose to become a social worker. Many of the adults I worked with had grown up in care, or had contact with Social Workers as children. I saw the value of independent advocacy in supporting people to feel heard, and to assert their rights, and I wanted to do this same work, but with children and young people, so that they might access the right supports, at the right time, and avoid the difficult road faced by the adults I met in London. I trained away from home but came back to Dublin and spent ten years working as a social worker for children in care and their families in Dublin. Joining the board of EPIC has afforded me the privilege of continuing to have an input into advocacy for children and young people in care. I have been delighted by the young people I have encountered, and their fierce determination to drive improvements to the system of care in Ireland, and to ensure that every care experienced child and young person in Ireland is supported to assert their rights. As a social worker, the sight of EPIC information on display when I visited with children and young people in their homes always brought a sense of relief. It was a simple indication that children were aware of, and...

Invaluable work of the Child Care Law Reporting Project raises major concerns

EPIC- Empowering People in Care congratulate the Child Care Law Reporting Project and welcome their report published today. This project provides invaluable insight and important focus on some of the difficulties that children in care and their families face when going through court proceedings. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, speaking about the report said: “EPIC has on many occasions, and over a period of years raised the importance and urgency of ensuring we can properly care for all our young people in care with complex needs and mental health issues, in Ireland. It’s simply not acceptable that we continue to send children and young adults abroad for specialist intervention that should properly be available to them in Ireland and we must cease this practice and instead focus on developing our own services and facilities to provide appropriate support to those children and young adults who require it.  Furthermore, it is unacceptable that some children must be made wards of court in order to receive out of state care and our mental health legislation must be reviewed as a matter of urgency to ensure this requirement is removed. The next Government should make this a principle focus.” Special Care can be a highly effective intervention and therefore it is necessary that efforts be increased to ensure that the full capacity of beds be operational, and the 58 available posts are filled. As part of this there must be more step-down accommodation available. Glen Alainn as one example, a step-down unit that is currently open, is not being maximised, and more such units must be established. Importantly, we must ensure that...

Next year EPIC will be 21

Independent advocacy is a process of helping children to express themselves and make changes. It empowers children to ensure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard at all times and is a means of achieving social justice because ‘everyone matters, and everyone is heard’. Independent Advocacy in Child Protection - Guidance for Policy Makers (National Children’s Bureau 2013)   EPIC was formally founded twenty years ago, and in that time has grown from an organisation of just three people providing independent advocacy to children and young adults in North Dublin, to a service providing direct one to one advocacy and participation programmes nationally, with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. The past 20 years of this EPIC journey has been one of discovery, often challenging, sometimes arduous, but always driven by a passion and commitment to ensure that children and young people were given a voice, that their voice was heard, and that they could participate in and influence decisions being made about them and also effect change in the care system, to ensure the lived experience of all children and young people in care will be a positive one. The work of EPIC is predicated on the belief that independent advocacy and participation for children in care, is an integral part of our child protection and welfare system and the belief that it will be recognized as such. While it’s fair to say that we are not there yet in achieving this recognition, we believe that we have made considerable progress in reaching this objective. Advocacy is relatively new to Ireland and still...

EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – a Christmas Wish List

Press Release Download PDF EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – an open letter: All I want for Christmas - A Christmas Wish List Dec 19th 2019 EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – an open letter All I want for Christmas - A Christmas Wish List EPIC-Empowering People In Care, received with disbelief the news that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, and her department, had returned almost €60 million to the exchequer unspent. It might be argued that current financial procedures within government mean that underspends within any budget cannot be re-allocated. We believe that such an enormous amount of money should not be returned to the exchequer when so many children and young adults are in desperate need of services that they can’t access due to lack of adequate resources and significant underfunding. They should be entitled to an explanation from the Minister as to why they are being left in dire need when money was available to address this. We endorse the  recommendation from the Public Accounts Committee that a proper management system be established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, to ensure that when funding is provided by the Oireachtas,  it is utilised in the appropriate manner, and is used to fund services that are necessary and lacking. However, we also believe that the Government should be held fully accountable for budget decisions that affect the lives of children and young people, and we  are calling on the government to implement a more cohesive budgetary policy for children and youth...

EPIC Advocacy Report 2018

This report gives an overview of the EPIC Advocacy cases in 2018. This report gives an overview of the EPIC Advocacy cases in 2018. 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 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 educational course or 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 tenth annual report on EPIC Advocacy cases, the first of which was in 2009. The number of Advocacy cases has increased substantially over these ten years – from 61 in 2009 to 653 in 2018. During the year 2018, there were eight Advocacy Officers in EPIC, two in each of the main regions: Dublin North East; Dublin Mid Leinster; South; and West. Therefore, on average, each EPIC Advocacy Officer dealt with 82 cases throughout the year, which has increased from an average of 73 cases in the previous year 2017, when there was a total of 589 EPIC Advocacy cases. In 2018, there were 395 Referrals to the EPIC National Advocacy Service. This number had...
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