Introduction to the Pre-Budget Submission
EPIC makes this submission to Government in both our capacity as a national children’s rights organisation, and on behalf of the children and young people 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 young people leaving care. The State is acting in loco parentis for these children and young people and therefore bears significant responsibility for their wellbeing and socio-economic outcomes. Care-proofing means that Government Departments would review the impact their budgets have on care-experienced children and young people and take proactive measures to address any gaps identified.
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 can have additional needs and vulnerabilities which the State as their ‘corporate parent’ has an obligation to respond to in order that they achieve the best possible outcomes, including upon transition to adulthood.
We urge the Government to prioritise the children currently in its care, and those leaving care as they move forward in their negotiations.
EPIC calls on the Government in Budget 2023 to:
- Increase the budget for the Child and Family Agency and its civil society partners.
- Direct public funds to the recruitment of child protection and welfare specialists to address gaps in social work numbers, and independent advocacy.
- Regularise and fund the DCEDIY/Tusla Education and Training Bursary Scheme for Care Experienced Young People.
- Enable the Department of Health to extend the age that young people accessing specialist mental health supports transition to adult services to 25 years.
- Invest in financial and human resources for training on, and the implementation of trauma-informed care in all care settings.
- Prioritise investment in aftercare services.
- Invest in accommodation for children in care and care-leavers – including residential care homes, supported facilities, and aftercare accommodation – to ensure no care-experienced child or young person becomes homeless.
- Ensure all unaccompanied children have ongoing access to safe, secure accommodation and appropriate services, and that they are deemed eligible for an aftercare service upon turning 18.
- Invest in foster care – including allowances, training, and supports – to help retain and recruit foster carers.
- Support Tusla to meet its strategic goal of reaching 50:50 private:public residential care provision by 2025.