14th January 2016
State under Scrutiny by UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Today the Irish Government will be examined on upholding children’s rights by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.
Children’s rights organisations have been working together to highlight the current gaps in service provision and policy for children and young people in Ireland. EPIC has been part of the Children’s Rights Alliance UNCRC Project Steering Group which compiled the Parallel Report to Ireland’s Third and Fourth Combined Report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Speaking today, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan commented:
“Today is a very important day for children and their rights in Ireland. One of the most vulnerable cohorts of children is those in State Care. These young people are extremely vulnerable – before, during and after leaving care, with little or no family supports.
Both national and international evidence has demonstrated that children in care have poorer outcomes than their peers in terms of education, employment and mental health issues, and are at greater risk of homelessness and imprisonment than the general youth population.
Latest published figures show there are currently 428 children in care without an allocated social worker and 604 children without a written care plan. Having a social worker and a written care plan are significant indicators in ensuring that these children are protected and can have their voices heard in the decision-making process. In order for this to be achieved TUSLA require sufficient resourcing to adequately provide social work services and meet their statutory obligations.. It is a matter of urgency that this be improved to help ensure better outcomes for children in care. However, greater emphasis must be placed on provision of family support and early intervention and preventative work. Sometimes, this will require children being taken into care earlier, and to limit the trauma and harm that a young person may face.”
The State as ‘corporate parent’ has an obligation to ensure the welfare of each child in care is met. EPIC looks forward to the UN shining a spotlight on critical areas of reform for all children and young people, and in particular this vulnerable group of children and young people in care. This important day will benefit all children and young people by highlighting positive developments, as well shedding light on areas requiring further reform.
Notes to the Editor
- Some of the key recommendations for children in care submitted to the UN Committee include:
- State should ensure every child in care has an allocated social worker, care plan, regular family contact and access to adequate mental health supports.
- Enactment of the Aftercare Bill 2014 which would widen the eligibility criteria, provide an entitlement to aftercare for all young people leaving State Care and increase efforts to support and ensure that young people leaving State Care have access to suitable accommodation.
- HIQA should inspect all residential care homes for children to ensure they are independently monitored.
- The Shadow Report ‘Are we there yet?: Parallel Report to Ireland’s Third and Fourth Combined Report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child by non-governmental organisations compiled by the Children’s Rights Alliance is available to access here: http://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/submissions_reports/files/AreWeThereYet.pdf (accessed 13/01/15)
- Statistics relating to aftercare are available on the Tusla Management Data Report, Quarter 3 http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_Management_Data_Report_Quarter_3_2015_Final_15_12_15.pdf & numbers of children in care available here http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_Management_Data_Report_October_Final.pdf (accessed 13/01/15)
- EPIC’s compiled research on outcomes for Care Leavers, see ‘My Voice has to be Heard: Research on Outcomes for Young People leaving Care in North Dublin https://www.epiconline.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Outcomes_for_young_people_leaving_care_in_North_Dublin_2012.pdf and on the importance of participation for young people in their Care Reviews ‘It’s about me’: Young People’s Experience of Participating in their Care Reviews’ https://www.epiconline.ie/its-about-me-report-on-care-reviews/
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