This report gives an overview of the EPIC National Advocacy Service in 2021

EPIC’s National Advocacy Service works to empower children in care and young people with care experience to have a say and be heard on issues that affect their lives. This report gives an overview of this Service in 2021 and presents a snapshot of the children and young people who used the Service, and the issues addressed.

The nature of an Advocate’s role can vary. From providing basic information, for example supporting a young person to know and understand their rights as they transition to aftercare services, or practical support, like working with other professionals in their life to ensure the best outcomes for them, to a higher level of engagement, where an EPIC Advocate attends a care or aftercare review with a child or young person.

During 2021, a team of nine EPIC Advocates, supported by two Advocacy Managers, worked across Ireland supporting 491 children and young people on a total of 777 advocacy cases.

The data presented in this, and previous Advocacy Reports, is critical in informing the development of EPIC’s services and policy. It enables the organisation to recognise and track ongoing and emerging trends, as well as the day-to-day issues experienced by the community of children and young people who seek and receive support from the EPIC National Advocacy Service.

The Management Team and staff of EPIC would like to thank Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for funding this Service, as well as all those who have supported EPIC to deliver the Service throughout 2021. We would also like to thank the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for their collaboration and engagement. Community Law and Mediation (CLM) deserve a special mention for our project partnership which provided free legal advice clinics to children and young people with care experience throughout 2021. This pilot project was made possible by funding from Comic Relief which was administered by the Community Foundation of Ireland.

The efficacy of our Advocacy Service is dependent on collaboration with a wide variety of individuals, organisations, and services in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. We acknowledge the many professionals with whom we work that are dedicated to meeting the needs of care-experienced children and young people. We especially wish to acknowledge the children and young people who came through our Advocacy Service in 2021, whose experiences and challenges are documented throughout this report.

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