EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series
EPIC’s Advocacy Service
Did you know that there are currently just under 6,000 Children and Young People in the care of Tusla? These Children and Young People live in a variety of different settings, most live in Foster care, while the remaining live in residential services including Special Care, Detention and Aftercare. EPIC offers advocacy support to all Children and Young people in the care of Tusla and to Young Adults in aftercare and post leaving care. In 2018, EPIC dealt with 653 advocacy cases.
What does Advocacy mean?
Advocacy means informing Children and Young People about their rights, empowering Children and Young People to have a voice and to speak up for themselves, to be part of decisions made about them, and to have access to an independent voice - an Advocate - who will speak on their behalf.
Why is Advocacy such an important part of the work that EPIC does?
Well, there are a number of reasons.
Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that Children and Young People need to be:
‘Listened to and taken seriously’
In 2006 EPIC asked Children and Young People what is was that they most needed from the organisation and they told us that they wanted a service that was there for them and that ensured their voices where heard. In 2009, the Ryan Report recommended that all Children and Young People in care have access to an Independent Advocate. The Ryan Report made it even more important for EPIC to ensure that Children and Young People in care or Young Adults with care experience receive information about our service.
Today, EPIC offers a National Advocacy Service and our Head Office is located in Smithfield, Dublin. There are three Advocates in the Dublin office and the areas that they cover are Dublin Mid Leinster and Dublin North East. EPIC also has an Advocate based in Limerick, another in Galway and three more Advocates based in Cork. This means that no matter where you live in Ireland, there is an Advocate for your area.
How can you get an Advocate?
A Child or Young Person can self-refer, which means that they can contact EPIC themselves or any adult can refer in on their behalf. The Child or Young Person must consent/agree to the referral being made. Once the referral is received, it will go to the weekly referral meeting that is held on a Friday. At this meeting, the case will be allocated to an Advocate. Within a two-week period, the Advocate will contact the Child, Young Person or Young Adult to arrange an initial meeting.
Children and Young People contact EPIC for lots of reasons. They might need some information, have a question, they might want us to help them write a letter, talk to their Social Worker or Aftercare Worker. They may want us to help them prepare for their Child in Care Review or attend the Review with them. They may be preparing for Aftercare and need support at their Aftercare Planning or Review Meetings. It is important to know EPIC can’t always sort everything out however we will try our best. We will also keep the Child, Young Person and Young Adult updated on the progress of their advocacy issue.
I have worked as an Advocate for the last 13 years and every day my job is different due to you the Children, Young People and Young Adults I meet through EPIC. You are unique and special individuals. Everything I have learned about being an Advocate, you have taught me. You tell us very important things that can make Care a better experience for others.
As Advocate’s we value and listen to what you have to say after all you are the experts you have the care experience.
If you wish to contact EPIC for Advocacy support, you can contact us by.
Phone Us: 01 8727661
Text Us: 087 9036598
Write a letter: EPIC, 7 Red Cow Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 KX52
For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview please contact:
Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC
Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 087 2370269
EPIC Empowering People In Care is a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered at 7 Red Cow Lane, Smithfield Dublin 7, D07 KX52.