Media Statement in response to Budget 23
Contact: Caroline Reid, Communications Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org | 087 216 2496
While the allocations announced for early years interventions and childcare will benefit families and children across Ireland, EPIC reiterates that investment in children in state care and care-leavers is critical.
Speaking on Budget Day, EPIC’s CEO Marissa Ryan said:
“It’s good to see the increase in funding to Tusla. We hope that a significant proportion of these funds are targeted towards children in care and young people after care. In the face of the housing and cost of living crises, some of the young people we work with are facing increased vulnerability, including homelessness. With no family to fall back on, they are very worried about what the winter will bring.
At national level we have a situation where child protection referrals are growing, there is an insufficient number of social workers, a decreasing number of foster carers, and we don’t have enough care placements. The additional investment in Tusla must be matched by vital political attention and inter-departmental engagement to make sure no care-experienced child or young person falls through the cracks
The shortfall in the current number of available care placements is of urgent concern to EPIC, alongside the shifting age profile of children being placed in residential care or emergency accommodation, and the complexity of needs among this cohort.
It is EPIC’s firmly held view that no child or young person that is taken into care should be housed in emergency accommodation, including hotels and B&Bs. The Government must act immediately to develop a cross-departmental plan for identifying and securing the premises and staff necessary to ensure stable, suitable and safe care placements.
Other areas highlighted in our pre-Budget submission, which have also been noted by the Ombudsperson for Children and HIQA this year, include the need to recruit and retain both social workers and other child protection and welfare professionals, expand aftercare services, and bolster efforts underway in Tusla to provide mental health and therapeutic supports for children in care. The €58 million increase in mental health funding must result in timely access to robust and quality services, and priority pathways must be developed for children in care and care-leavers who often experience early childhood trauma and adversity.
The Government has an obligation to act in the best interests of the child. They must ensure the wellbeing of children in state care is prioritised and that these children are enabled to thrive and achieve the same outcomes as their peers, including when they transition to adulthood. While the detail of Budget 2023 needs to be analysed, we continue our call for the Government to retain focus on the children for whom it is acting in loco parentis.”