20th Anniversary Article Series Introduction

                         EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series Introduction This year is the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Irish Association of Young People In Care, which in 2011 became EPIC Empowering People In Care. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration we are delighted to present the first of a series of articles which we hope will provide interesting overview on EPIC from our foundation in 1999, to our work today and the future direction of the organisation. The articles are written by individuals and groups who have shared EPIC’s journey in one way or another over the past twenty years. These articles are written by Young People, members of the EPIC Youth Council, current and former members of the EPIC team, Board Members and professionals from other organisations that have worked closely with EPIC and contributed to where we are today. All articles will be available under the News & Events>20th  Anniversary menu tab on our website at https://www.epiconline.ie/topics/20th-anniversary/ We hope that you will enjoy these articles and join us in celebrating our 20th year....

CHILD PROTECTION MUST ALWAYS BE A PRIORITY

28th February 2019 Child protection must always be a priority For every organisation working with children child protection must be the priority above all else. It is of concern that despite such poor findings from a HIQA inspection in January 2018 that it took until January 2019 for Oak Lodge Fostering Services to cease operating. A further announced inspection was carried out in September 2018, but worryingly many significant failings and major non-compliances remained. EPIC commends HIQA for their inspection process. EPIC believes that the provision of an appropriate action-plan for services such as Oak Lodge Fostering Services to improve and meet minimum standards should be considered. Such a plan would be collaborative between HIQA, Tusla and the service provider and have clear deliverables with a realistic timeframe and regular oversight of progress made. A repeat unannounced inspection, or series of inspections where resources allow, could be carried out within a reasonable timeframe to verify progress. A nine-month delay between inspections, such as in the case of Oak Lodge, seems excessive in the case of serious concerns around child protection. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “Too often we are seeing that organisations working with children are not prioritising child-protection through the development of a robust and appropriate child protection framework and the training of staff and volunteers in the protection of children.  With the considerable support and assistance available to organisations in developing frameworks and policies, through organisations like Tusla and others, there is no excuse for any organisation not to have a robust framework of policies and protocols for the protection of children in place and suitable training...

Football Blitz and Flashmob

20th February 2019 #CareDay19 Football Blitz and Flashmob February 20th 2019 Continuing To celebrate children in care Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved Last Friday the 15th of February saw EPIC and other organisations around the world celebrating care day. Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. EPIC is continuing these celebrations on Wednesday the 20th of February in collaboration with Don Bosco to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.ie/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be collaborating for the 3rd year with Don Bosco Care in a football blitz, with support from Dublin City Sport and Wellbeing (D.C.C.) and Swim Ireland, in Clontarf between 1 and 3pm, as part of our #CareDay19 celebrations. This is a wonderful event for young care leavers to have some fun and promote health and positivity in care.  Across town, in the centre of Dublin, other young care leavers will participate in a flashmob on Wednesday afternoon. It will be a fun afternoon! So, get vocal, get social and get involved in celebrating the successes and positive achievements of those in care or with care experience this Wednesday.” Ciaran Kenny, Don Bosco said: “Every Tuesday for the last ten years about 20 young people gather to kick a football around in Clontarf. It is a wonderful social outlet for Young People with care experience, a great way for these young people to be part of a community, to have a positive experience, and have...

Press Release #CareDay19

#CareDay19 A global celebration of children in care – February 15th 2019 Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. EPIC is hosting several events around the country to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.ie/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be spearheading this year’s Care Day 2019 on the 15th of February. It is an initiative of ‘5 Nations 1 Voice’ – 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 The Netherlands, 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 those in care or with care experience.” Conor, Care-Leaver and student said: “CareDay promotes all the positive stories about care experienced people. There are so many negative stories out there. It is really important for us to be able to counteract the stereotypes” We are delighted that Katherine Zappone T.D, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will today formally launch Care Day at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and following this the Children’s Ombudsman,...

Care Day 2019 Diary Notice

DIARY NOTICE A global celebration of children in care – February 15th 2019 Friday February 15th 2019 Care Day 2019   Who: A Global Celebration of Children & Young People with Care Experience What: Katherine Zappone T.D, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will launch Care Day at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and Children’s Ombudsman, Mr Niall Muldoon, will host an event at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office at 3pm. Both events are centred on children and young people with care experience, some of whom will speak and perform. Where: TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and The Ombudsman for Children’s Office at 3pm When: February 15th 2019 Background: Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. EPIC is hosting several events around the country to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.ie/ AVAILABLE ON THE DAY Interview Opportunities: Care Experienced Young People & Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 087 2370269 Katherine Zappone T. D. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will be available for comment at our event in TU Dublin Tallaght Campus DIARY NOTICE CARE DAY 2019 EPIC -...

Executive Summary – Advocacy Report 2017

This is an Executive Summary of the EPIC Advocacy cases Report - 2017. 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. To read the full report visit here Get Executive Summary...

EPIC Advocacy Cases 2017 Report

This report gives an overview of EPIC Advocacy cases in 2017. 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 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 ninth annual report on EPIC Advocacy cases, the first of which was in 2009. The number of Advocacy cases has increased substantially over these eight years – from 61 in 2009 to 589 in 2017. During the year 2017, 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 73 cases throughout the year, which has increased from an average of 63 cases in the previous year 2016, when there was a total of 500 EPIC Advocacy cases. In 2017, there were 434 Referrals to the EPIC National Advocacy Service. Compared to the previous year 2016, when there were 370 Referrals, this has increased by...

Our response to latest HIQA findings

EPIC – Empowering People In Care, has expressed serious concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in announced inspections of Oak Lodge and Care Visions Fostering Services. The finding that both services were majorly non-compliant in five of seven standards assessed is of serious concern and that both organisations were found to be majorly non-complaint in safeguarding and child protection and that Care Visions Fostering was found to be majorly non-compliant in the assessment and approval of foster-carers raises obvious serious concerns. EPIC said that it was of particular concern that in the case of Care Visions Fostering there were no safety plans in place for a child placed with foster carers where concerns about the carers were known to the social work team and in another case no visits had occurred with the foster carers two months following a significant event. EPIC CEO Terry Dignan said: “It’s simply not acceptable that any organisation working with vulnerable children would not have adequate child safeguarding and protection systems in place. We have seen time and again the devastating impact on children of failures to have robust reporting systems in place and to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion to allegations. As an organisation that works to make children’s voices heard, the finding that the children placed with foster carers were not always met with as part of the visit is incomprehensible and goes against the fundamental principle of a child-centred approach. We support HIQAs work in highlighting ongoing failures within our childcare services but feel strongly that prompt and appropriate action must be taken...

Starting the Conversation about People In Care

As someone who spent time in the care system, small talk, peppered, as it so often is, with questions about ‘home’ and ‘the family’, can feel like a minefield. It’s not like most people would think less of me if I just came out with it really, it’s just that a lot of them might be unsure how to respond. With Care Day (a celebration of children and young people with care experience) on February 16th, though, I think it’s about time that that discomfort began to fade. After all, to have a meaningful personal and political conversation about the care system, we are going to need to get over the initial awkwardness of talking about care. Endless depressing documentaries and gloomy articles about the care system lead some to believe that care will always and inevitably be a source of pain for anyone who’s been in it, and pain makes most of us uncomfortable. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t often bring my care past up. ‘It saves on tickets home!’ I sometimes joke, or I’ll tell whoever I’m talking to that ‘It’s fine!’. Whether being in care was painful or not for the person you’re talking to, that hurt won’t be alleviated by figuring out how to comfort you about it. Politically, too, the presumption that all care-related issues are difficult and sad topics make them less likely to be talked about. A governmental reluctance to really examine the care system means grant applications and government service forms often completely fail to allow for people with unconventional families. Inherent in the idea that the topic...

Deficiencies in our Mental Health Services for Children Persist

EPIC welcomes the latest report by Carol Coulter and her team in the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP). While Ms. Coulter’s reports shed a positive light on the progress that continues to be made in our care system they also highlight the challenges that continue to exist. One of the issues highlighted in the latest report published today (January 29th) is the fact that we continue to have to send some of our children abroad for treatment. The question must continue to be asked as to why the referral of children abroad for specialised therapeutic interventions has become an accepted feature within our health and social care system and why we, as the 8th best performing economy in the world cannot provide the resources to care for all of our children, regardless of need, here at home. Even more significantly, as long as we continue to send children and young people abroad, we must work to ensure that any such placement is for the shortest possible period of time and that the significant resources invested in providing these specialised interventions abroad are not undone upon returning home due to a lack of appropriate follow on placements and continuing supports available here. Children with severe psychological and psychiatric needs require robust diagnosis and assessment with a properly designed and regularly reviewed short, medium, and longer term support plan in place.  The case of a teenage girl who spent 9 months in a Special Care Unit without receiving psychiatric support is clearly of concern.  Wrap-around psychiatric services with multidisciplinary input are urgently needed for many young people suffering from serious...

Celebrate #CareDay18

Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC said “On February 16th next, EPIC, with our 5 Nations 1 Voice partners, will celebrate the third ‘Care Day’ since we launched the inaugural Care Day in 2016. Care Day is an opportunity to unite in celebrating the rights of care experienced children and young people, their stories and their achievements. This year we look forward to the biggest Care Day yet by welcoming even more children, young people, their friends, family and carers and care organisations to join in the celebrations. Be part of changing the story for children and young people in care and care leavers by spreading the word for Care Day 2018 and joining us through your participation in the celebration of Care Day 2018! #CareDay 18 - Show your support and get involved! How to get involved… Take a selfie with the downloadable Placard, and on the 16th of February post it on social media using the hashtag #CareDay18 - If you’re not okay with posting a selfie, you can just post a picture of your placard. You can also use our Care Day Twibbon to show your support easily on your Facebook or Twitter page. Care Day Twibbon Young Persons Placard Supporters...

Statement on Mandatory Reporting

EPIC cautiously welcomes the introduction of mandatory reporting of child protection concerns by professionals, introduced on Monday December 11th. This commences the final part of the Children First Act 2015, which places a legal obligation on professionals to report child protection concerns to the Child and Family Agency and to assist the agency with its assessment of concerns about children who have been the subject of a report. It also fulfils the 2011 Programme for Government commitment of putting reporting of child abuse on a statutory footing. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said “More responsibility and ownership on reporting of abuse cases is a positive step, however we need to ensure that mandatory reporting does not overshadow continued investment in recruiting and retaining of social workers, coupled with early community intervention and support; the cornerstone of effective child protection.  EPIC would not like to see the positive progress being made by Tusla to be impeded by a diversion of resources in response to an overabundance in mandatory reporting.” Child protection is everyone’s responsibility, but it is now clear where that responsibility lies in terms of reporting concerns about a child’s welfare and protection. Tusla has issued publications and online training to enhance awareness and understanding of the new responsibilities. If you want to report a concern, see...

Care Day – Save the Date

FEBRUARY 15TH - NATIONAL CARE DAY Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) Care Day 2018 will take place on February 16th.  Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. Care experience includes children and young people who are or were cared for by parents or other family members with the support of social workers; by foster carers; or children and young people from children’s homes and residential units. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. Care Day is part of 5 Nations, 1 Voice – 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. Care Day 2018 is an opportunity to celebrate the rights of care experienced children and young people. The alliance wants a world where the experience of these children and young people allow them to thrive and achieve their dreams so that they go onto have a future that is fulfilled, and something they are proud of. The 5 Nations, 1 Voice alliance invites every child and young person with experience of care to join in this day of united celebration. Those who care for and support these children and young people are also asked to celebrate. It is an opportunity to illustrate how care experienced people can feel different to others and why. So, on February 16th, next Care Day, everyone has the chance to get vocal, get social, and get together in celebration of the care experienced community....

EPIC Board Chairperson Vacancy

Download Advert for new Chair (PDF document) Role: Chairperson Remuneration: The role of Chair is not accompanied by any financial remuneration, although reasonable expenses will be covered. Location: Dublin Term: Initially offered on a three‐year term, with the possibility of one further term. Reporting to: The Board About EPIC EPIC is the only independent organisation in Ireland that works with and for young people who are currently living in care, or who have experience of living in care. EPIC provides direct one‐to‐one advocacy support to young people in care, to enable them to have their views and concerns heard, to empower them to speak for themselves, and bring about positive change in their lives. EPIC was set up in 1999, in order to: Give a voice to young people with care experience Ensure children in care know their rights Give information, advice, and support to young people with care experience Advocate for children in care to be more involved in decision being made about them We do this by: Working directly with children in care or young people and adults with care experience; Working with organisation that work with young people in care, to better advocate for the rights of children, young people, and adults with care We are now recruiting for the position of Chairperson, to replace the current Chair when they step down in January 2018. Current board composition The board is currently made up of nine board directors, with experience in legal, finance, HR, IT, fundraising, and with both professional and academic experience in the care sector. There are currently two main sub‐committees of the board. The...

Education Fair for Young People in Care

RELEASING POTENTIAL - EDUCATION FAIR FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE! Children, young people, carers, and relevant professionals welcome to this information fair on educational opportunities for young people in care after they leave school! When: Saturday 25th November 2017 // 11:00-1:00PM Where: Graduates Memorial Building (GMB) Trinity College Dublin Map to GMB available here // For more information visit...

Conference Invitation – ‘What’s Good Enough?’

5th National Care Leaver's Day Conference Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) Following on from last years’ conference “OUT ON MY OWN” we are delighted to announce our upcoming conference on 13th October 2017 in Dublin Castle, sponsored by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.  “What’s Good Enough?” To celebrate the 5th National Care Leaver’s Day EPIC and Care Leaver’s Ireland are hosting an innovative conference aimed at young people moving towards Aftercare, in Aftercare and Professionals who work with them.  The focus of the conference is “What’s Good Enough?” promoting the positive transition from care to aftercare, highlighting the importance of positive mental health and creative therapeutic interventions,  how  can we improve educational outcomes for care leavers and discuss pathways to accommodation for young people in aftercare. Date: 13th October 2017 Time: 9.30am – 4.30p.m. Venue: The Printworks, Dublin Castle (Map) Price: +16 In Care & Care Leavers Free Professionals €50.00 + Booking Fee Students €25.00 + Booking Fee For tickets please see booking link below: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whats-good-enough-tickets-36187941106 Download PDF of...
‘5 Nations, 1 Voice’ Alliance connecting care-experienced young people launches with #CareDay!

‘5 Nations, 1 Voice’ Alliance connecting care-experienced young people launches with #CareDay!

‘5 Nations, 1 Voice’: Alliance connecting care-experienced young people launches with #CareDay!  Five charities representing children in care and care leavers are joining together to connect and support these young people to shape policy and effect change across the UK and Ireland. As part of the 5 Nations, 1 Voice alliance launch, Friday 19 February 2016 has been named #CareDay, with activities planned across the nations. Supported by a £499,745 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, 5 Nations 1 Voice brings together Who Cares? Scotland, The Who Cares? Trust (England), Voices from Care (Wales), VOYPIC (Northern Ireland) and EPIC (Ireland). Each organisation is uniquely positioned in their own nation, and they share a common purpose: to represent the views or promote the voices of care-experienced young people to improve their experiences and outcomes. 5 Nations 1 Voice will build connections among care-experienced young people across the UK and Ireland. These young people experience similar challenges whether they grow up in Aberdeen or Aberystwyth, Belfast or Bath, County Cork or the Cairngorms. 5 Nations 1 Voice will create opportunities for young people in care and care leavers to build supportive networks with their peers, both face to face and online. The alliance hopes to build confidence and resilience among young care-experienced people, particularly about their identity. 5 Nations 1 Voice will advocate for increased protection for care-experienced people in law and ensure that they are integral to shaping policy that affects them. This could include measures that introduce more stability and security into their lives. Each organisation has experience of effecting change in their own nations; through this project, they...
EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CARE DAY 2016!

EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CARE DAY 2016!

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT: EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CAREDAY 2016!  Immediate Release: 19/02/16 Where: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium Walk, Strand Street, Dublin 1.   When: 19th February 2016  EPIC and Tusla - The Child and Family Agency will officially launch and celebrate the first National Care Day on the 19th of February 2016. This is a special day marked to celebrate the positive experiences and lives of children and young people in State Care. A special event will take place at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in Dublin where a number of young people will present to invited guests. Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan stated: “Today EPIC and Tusla launches what we hope will be an annual event that continues to grow. Care Day aims to increase public awareness and celebrate the talents and achievements of children and young people in care. We hope that this event will show the importance of highlighting the many positive experiences young people have in care.”    Fred McBride, Chief Executive, Tusla stated “Tusla are pleased to celebrate in partnership with EPIC this first National Care Day in Ireland. It is important for us as an Agency to acknowledge and honour the many  achievements of children and young people in care.” Care Day will also be celebrated on February 19th in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as part of a wider campaign to promote a positive care identity for young people across all 5 Nations. ENDS This event can only be attended by invitation only. If you are interested in attended this event, please contact EPIC at (01) 8727661. You can follow and engage in this...

Humans of Dublin – young people in care

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High Proportion of Unplanned Placement Endings

High Proportion of Unplanned Placement Endings

Immediate Release: 11th February 2016 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. It is clear further supports for foster carers, particularly, first time foster carers, are required. It is deeply concerning that in some cases there was no evidence of care plans or placement plans. The actions HIQA has outlined now need to be acted upon promptly.” Evidence both from national and international research highlights the importance of stability for children in care and its significance in determining positive outcomes for children in care. Notes to the Editor At the end of quarter 3 in 2015, there were 496 children in private placements. 62% (307) of these children were in private foster care and 36% (171) were in private residential placements. See Tusla’s Integrated Performance and Activity Report  http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Q3_2015_Integrated_Performance_and_Activity_Report_Final.pdf  (accessed 11/02/16) 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:...
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