The State has to act to prevent young people moving from care into homelessness
EPIC- Empowering People in Care today launch their 2018 Advocacy Report which saw 653 children and young people with care experience accessing the National Advocacy Service. This is an increase of 11% from the previous year and demonstrates the continuing increase in demand for advocacy services, despite the fact that children and young adults in the care system are not routinely made aware of the service. Our 2018 report again highlights the importance of independent advocacy in our child protection and welfare system to ensure that the voice of every child and young adult is heard, in decisions which affect their lives.
The main presenting issues facing children and young adults in the 2018 report have not changed since EPIC began collating this information six years ago; with care placement, accommodation, aftercare, family contact and parental rights all continuing to top the list.
Speaking about the report, EPIC’s CEO, Terry Dignan said:
“EPIC remains the only national service providing independent advocacy to children and young adults in the care system. While recognition of the importance of independent advocacy is growing, we are still some way behind the UK where advocacy was given a statutory basis, through the National Health Service Act, in 2006. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents an opportunity to recognise advocacy in legislation in Ireland. As we continue to try to come to terms with the tragic consequences of a past where the voices of children and young adults in care were not heard we must not return to the errors of the past.”
This report highlights the importance of independent advocacy as an integral part of child protection and welfare. The ever-increasing demand for EPICs services demonstrates not simply the need but the demand from children and young adults to be heard, to be involved in and responded to, in relation to decisions being made about them.
Homelessness is a key concern nationally and young people leaving care are now one of the most vulnerable groups affected by the crisis. Approximately 450 young people leave care each year. Leaving care without stable accommodation adds significantly to the stress and anxiety that every young person experiences as they prepare to leave care. EPIC is calling for even greater cooperation between Tusla, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Housing to deliver solutions to prevent care leavers from having to access homeless services when they leave care. As one of our most vulnerable populations they must be prioritised for housing.
While Mr Dignan welcomes the improvements in Tusla’s National Aftercare Service, he is calling on Tusla and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to:
“Significantly increase the amount of funding available to National Aftercare Services to increase Aftercare supported accommodation, and to increase the number of Aftercare Workers nationally, so that all care leavers are better and consistently supported in their transition from care to independent living.”
Contact: Terry Dignan, CEO (01 8727661 or 087 2370269)
Notes to Editor:
EPIC’s Advocacy Report launch takes place in
23-27 Molesworth St,
Thursday, November 21st at 9am
The following are available for interview:
• Mr Terry Dignan. Chief Executive, EPIC
Twitter: You can follow the launch at the following hashtag #EPICREPORT19
EPIC Advocacy Report 2018: Available at https://www.epiconline.ie/epic-advocacy-report-2018/
Young People in Care in Ireland, https://www.tusla.ie/data-figures/
EPIC is a national voluntary 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 residential care, foster care, relative care, hostel, high support and special care. EPIC also works with young people preparing to leave care and those in aftercare. EPIC’s National Advocacy Service core priority is to ensure young people in care and those with experience are listened to and are heard on issues affecting their lives. It is a national service with offices in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.