Introduction to the Pre-Budget Submission
EPIC Empowering People in Care (EPIC) is a national organisation that works with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have experience of living in care. This includes those in relative care, foster care, and residential care – including high support and special care – as well as children and young people accommodated by the State under section 5 of the Childcare Act, and those sentenced or remanded by the Courts. EPIC also works with young people preparing to leave care and in aftercare services, and with adults with care experience.
EPIC is the only independent organisation providing direct 1:1 advocacy support to children and young people in care. EPIC’s advocacy service works to enable them to have their views and concerns heard and taken seriously, to empower them to speak for themselves, to help to resolve the issues and challenges they experience in care, to assist them in accessing the services and resources they need, and to bring about positive change in their experience of care and their lives generally.
EPIC makes this submission to Government in both our capacity as a National Children Rights Organisation, and on behalf of the children and young people in and leaving care with whom we work. Our submission is informed by the evidence base from our caseload, as well as our research and policy work.
It is EPIC’s view that relevant Government Departments should, as a matter of course, care proof their budgets for children in care and leaving care. Care-proofing means that each Government Department would review and assess the impact their budgets will have on care-experienced children and young people. Furthermore, EPIC believes that children and young people with care experience should have positive actions applied to their circumstances. This group of children and young people are extremely vulnerable and the State as their ‘corporate parent’ has an obligation to fulfil in ensuring their safety and welfare, including upon transition to adulthood.
EPIC calls on the Government in Budget 2022 to retain a focus on the cohort of children and young people in its care by increasing Tusla’s Budget, and prioritising investment across ten key areas:
- Data collecting and sharing across all areas of care
- Increasing the number of social workers
- Investment in independent advocacy
- Establishment of a National Support Service for Parents of Children in Care
- Improved educational supports and guidance
- Mental Health investment
- Extension of Aftercare Services
- Support for Unaccompanied Minors/Separated Children Seeking Asylum
- Strengthened funding for foster care
- Balancing investment in Tusla managed residential care settings