This report gives an overview of the EPIC National Advocacy Service in 2020
EPIC’s National Advocacy Service works to empower children in care and young people with care experience to have a say and be heard in issues that affect their lives. This report gives an overview of this Service in 2020, and presents a snapshot of the children and young people who engaged with EPIC’s Advocacy Service and the main issues they needed support with.
In 2020 there were nearly 6,000 children in the care of the State in Ireland, and 2,943 young people in after-care services.
This is EPIC’s twelfth Advocacy Report, and the number of advocacy cases continues to increase year on year, with a 66% increase over the last five years (2016- 2020). During 2020, a team of nine EPIC Advocates worked across Ireland supporting 514 individual children and young people on a total of 853 advocacy cases.
With the pandemic and associated restrictions and lockdowns ongoing, 2020 was another unique year that brought significant difficulty for all children and young people in Ireland. Care-experienced children and young people faced additional challenges in relation to accommodation, care placements, access to services, after-care plans, contact with their families, and a loss of their usual social outlets.
We believe that the learning accrued throughout the 2020 pandemic response should inform future emergency planning in the care system, and that the voices and experiences of children and young people in care and aftercare must be at the centre.
EPIC stands ready to assist, as well as to support our partners in this regard.
Throughout the period of this report, EPIC observed care-experienced children and young people in challenging circumstances acting with courage and resilience, often accepting the harsh realities of life in lockdown with empathy and concern for others.
We also saw professionals across the statutory and voluntary sectors come together and go to extraordinary lengths to support care-experienced children and young people in an extremely difficult environment.
This included our own Advocacy Team and the Operations Team supporting them.