Media Statement in response to publication of the Heads of Bill for the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023
Contact: Caroline Reid, Communications Manager | email@example.com | 087 216 2496
20 April 2023
EPIC, Empowering People in Care, welcome the publication of the Heads of Bill for the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023 by Minister Roderic O’Gorman.
This long-awaited review and update to the Child Care Act 1991 provides an opportunity to ensure that policy and practice relating to the protection and welfare of children in Ireland is robust, child-centred, and in line with Ireland’s human rights obligations.
Responding to the news, Marissa Ryan, CEO of EPIC, said:
“The core of EPIC’s work is to ensure that the views of children in care and young people with care experience are central in decisions that affect their lives.”
“We are delighted to see an explicit focus on the best interests of the child and the prospective strengthening of their participation in decision-making, particularly in relation to their care.”
“EPIC firmly believes that a right to independent advocacy should be recognised in law as a mechanism to ensure a child’s right to be heard is meaningfully upheld.”
“The provisions that seek to enact the duty to cooperate between state bodies are also of note. The need for coordinated action by relevant state bodies, including the HSE and Tusla, is an area EPIC has long advocated for. This was recently highlighted in our research study on children in care and care leavers with disabilities. EPIC has long held that where the State is acting in loco parentis for children, it bears significant responsibility for their health, wellbeing, and socio-economic outcomes, and these responsibilities necessitate a Whole-of-Government approach.”
EPIC further welcomed the provisions relating to rules for Supervision Orders, Interim Care Orders, Care Orders, Emergency Care Orders and Voluntary Care Agreements being re-examined, which the organisation hopes will resolve significant issues that can result in precarious and uncertain care arrangements for some of the children and young people EPIC works with.
With the draft legislation now published, EPIC believes the Government has a real opportunity to ensure that the lives and wellbeing of children in its care are prioritised, and to honour the commitments of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Constitution.