20th Anniversary Article – EPIC’s Advocacy Service

It’s our 20th Anniversary and we are celebrating 20 years of being EPIC by posting articles every month about EPIC. This month is an about EPIC’s Advocacy Service   EPIC’s Advocacy Service Did you know that there are currently just under 6,000 Children and Young People in the care of Tusla? These Children and Young People live in a variety of different settings, most live in Foster care, while the remaining live in residential services including Special Care, Detention and Aftercare. EPIC offers advocacy support to all Children and Young people in the care of Tusla and to Young Adults in aftercare and post leaving care. In 2018, EPIC dealt with 653 advocacy cases. What does Advocacy mean?  Advocacy means informing Children and Young People about their rights, empowering Children and Young People to have a voice and to speak up for themselves, to be part of decisions made about them, and to have access to an independent voice - an Advocate - who will speak on their behalf. Why is Advocacy such an important part of the work that EPIC does? Well, there are a number of reasons. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that Children and Young People need to be: ‘Listened to and taken seriously’ In 2006 EPIC asked Children and Young People what is was that they most needed from the organisation and they told us that they wanted a service that was there for them and that ensured their voices where heard. In 2009, the Ryan Report recommended that all Children and Young People in...

20th Anniversary Article – Part Two: An EPIC Journey – 2005 – 2016

          EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series                                 Part Two: An EPIC Journey - 2005 - 2016                                                                By Jennifer Gargan   In 2011 IAYPIC undertook a renaming and rebranding process and became EPIC.  Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched EPIC in 2012.   During this period, Atlantic Philanthropies invited EPIC to submit a proposal for further funding. This would be their last grant and was a potential opportunity for EPIC to leverage funding not only to build on the Policy and Research work of the previous grant period but also to further develop our core work, direct advocacy work with children and young people.  Atlantic Philanthropies and the One Foundation provided funding for EPIC to develop the next Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015, develop EPIC’s National Advocacy Service,  increase the Research function, build on the Advocacy and Policy work of EPIC and develop New Media communications capacity within the organisation.   In 2012 we expanded the advocacy service with additional staff and opened offices in Cork and Galway.  In 2015 with funding from the Tony Ryan Trust, we expanded our presence in the west with an office in Limerick. Over the next few years the direct work with children and young people went from strength to strength. Between 2012 and 2017 the annual number of Advocacy cases rose from 120 to 589, each and every case representing a child or young person who needed help and support...

20th Anniversary Article – Part One: An EPIC Journey – 2005 – 2016

          EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series                                 Part One: An EPIC Journey - 2005 - 2016                                                                By Jennifer Gargan   Joining IAYPIC (now EPIC) in July 2005 I had no idea how the organization would change over the next 11 years of my time as CEO. At that time IAYPIC consisted of myself, an Office Manager, a national office in Smithfield and an ambitious Strategic Plan, without sufficient resources to deliver it. Fortunately, the culture and climate within the Children’s sector, the HSE Children and Family Services, the Government and the general public was rapidly changing, bringing about an understanding of the rights of children to be safe, to be heard and to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Over the next few years the development of the National Children’s Strategy, appointment of an Ombudsman for Children, the appointment of the first Minister for Children, the Ryan Report and finally the Children’s Rights referendum brought children to the forefront of the political agenda.  In 2006 IAYPIC’s first members of staff working directly with children were appointed with funding from the HSE Children and Family Services in North Dublin. The Children’s Rights and Participation Officers, affectionately known as CRAP Officers by the young people, soon became aware that what young people really wanted from IAYPIC was a 1:1 advocacy service to provide them with support, advice, help them to be heard, to be involved in decisions about their care and...

National Review Panel Report in to Foster Care abuse case in Galway raises very serious concerns

According to a report from RTE, TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, will today publish a report by the National Review Panel into a series of failings that occurred in a foster home in county Galway. The Review Panel was delayed in publishing its report until the outcome of a criminal prosecution. The report highlights a number of serious failings and systemic flaws in the management of the case by both the HSE and TUSLA. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “The report raises very serious questions about how this case was managed and how the failings identified will be addressed in the management of similar cases in the future. Underlying at least some of the failings highlighted in the report appears to be the lack of sufficient staff resources to ensure that there was a comprehensive initial assessment of the family, the development of comprehensive risk assessments and safety plans and a regular review and re-assessment of these plans. The serious errors of judgment, flawed assessment and poor decision-making highlighted in the case-management of these children also raises questions about the training and experience of at least some of the staff involved. This in turn appears to have been compounded by the lack of management oversight identified in the report. Ultimately the failure to protect vulnerable young children and the circumstances of this case is completely unacceptable. The reality is that, due to inadequate resourcing, there are many more children in the care system who do not have regular access to a social worker and as a result, are potentially at risk. The recruitment and, more importantly, the...

20th Anniversary Article – A Reflection on Care Day

          EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series   A Reflection on Care Day and what it means to me as a Care Leaver                                                     By Katelyn Kelly   Care Day is a day that is celebrated each year on the third Friday of February. It looks at the positives for those who are currently in our care system and those who have left the care system, who are known as “Care Leavers.” Care Day is very important, as our society tends to focus on the negatives of the Irish Care System, rather than looking at the positives for those currently living in care and care leavers. Care Day is important for those both in care and for care leavers because it is a day where all of our achievements are acknowledged. We as a society tend to forget that people in care and those who are care leavers have achievements, just like people who do not have care experience, and they need to be recognised and celebrated for them. This day is not only celebrated by those in care or by care leavers, but also by those who support them to achieve their successes such as Foster Carers, Aftercare Workers and Social Workers. Care Day is not only celebrated in Ireland, but all over the world! Care Day shows those who are in care and care leavers that they are not alone, there are others who are going through the same thing as them or have gone through the same thing. Care Day means a lot to me for many...

20th Anniversary Article – A Reflection on EPIC as a Young Person in 2000

        EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series    A Reflection on being a Young Person Volunteer with IAYPIC in 2000 By Josephine Costello   Wow!!! 20 years of young people in care in Ireland having a voice. My involvement with EPIC began back at the first consultation day in Athlone on the 12thof May 2000. I had just left residential care and I was asked if I would participate in a consultation day regarding young people’s views of being in care and I jumped at the chance. That day opened my eyes to the fact that although my experience of being in care was very positive, not everyone else was so lucky. I remember being sad hearing some of their stories, but I also remember it creating a fire in me to want to be part of the change that was needed. I spoke to Catherine Carty, the then co-ordinator, and said I would like to be more involved. I am pretty sure she would have asked me anyways, as I did not stop talking that day! It was not long after, that Catherine contacted me and asked if I would like to travel with her and Natasha to Austria, to attend the European Youth in Care Conference. What an opportunity! We were able to spend time with other young people discussing issues that we had and things we would like changed. One of the greatest opportunities I had when I was in Austria, was being asked to sit on a panel in front of professionals from all over Europe, and answer questions that would give them...

20th Anniversary Article – Care Leavers Journey

          EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series   Care Leavers Journey of Participation with EPIC By Members of the EPIC National Youth Council   Why I joined EPIC                                                             I joined EPIC last year because I am currently in care and EPIC works with people in care and in aftercare. I really wanted to contribute to making positive changes in the care system and EPIC is the right place for that. Since I joined EPIC, it has been like a second home for me. It is really welcoming, friendly and loving. We have done lots of great stuff, like meeting the minister, organising Care Day, and having our own monthly meetings. -Reoland Pepa   How I became Involved with EPIC and my Experience of working with EPIC  I first became aware of EPIC when my aftercare worker asked if I would like to participate in a new national group that was being set up to make changes within the HSE. EPIC was going to be facilitating the group called TAG. I worked with EPIC staff for a few years preparing for conferences, giving consultations with HSE and Tusla staff at various levels and doing research into different projects. The EPIC staff were always great at making sure that everyone’s needs were met and that everyone in the group felt safe and supported, even when discussing topics that were quite personal and could have been upsetting for members. As TAG became less active, I was asked if I would like to participate in the National EPIC youth council and so far I have really enjoyed it, both locally...

Care Questions Answered

Care Questions Answered What is state care? State Care means you are placed in care after a Judge decides that this is in your best interests.  This can happen if that your parents are unable to give you the care you need to keep you safe and protected at home. If you are taken into care you could live in: Foster Care This is living with Foster Parents that care for children and look after you in their home Relative Care This is living with a family member such as a Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle or another member of your family where they will care and look after you in their home. Residential Care This is living in a house with other young people in care and residential care staff. Who is the Child & Family Agency or Tusla? Tusla, also known as the Child and Family Agency was established on the 1st January 2014 and is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving the wellbeing and outcomes for children. The Child and Family Agency is responsible for providing supports and services to families and protecting children and young people. How can I be taken into care? A decision can be made your parents or by a Judge that it is not safe for you at home and therefore State Care is the best option for you. Voluntary Care: Voluntary care is when your parents agree with The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) that the best option for you is to be taken into care.  In some cases parents are unable to cope due to illness or other problems, and...

Your Rights in Care

Your Rights in Care  What are my Rights if I am taken into Care?   You have a number of rights if taken into care. The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) has a duty to make sure that all decisions about your care are made in your best interests. You have the right to have your views heard when decisions are being made about you being in care. For more, see Your Care Questions  Know your Rights!   All children and adults have rights. These are known as Human Rights. As children you have your own set of rights called The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (the CRC). Children and young people have a special set of rights because being young sometimes makes you more vulnerable and in special need of care and protection. Learn More about Rights http://www.childrensrights.ie/childrens-rights-ireland/childrens-rights-ireland http://childrensrights.ie/childrens-rights-ireland/un-convention-rights-child Summary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The United nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) outlines the rights that children across the world have and sets out what governments must do to ensure that children everywhere have a good life. http://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/information_sheets/files/SummaryUNCRC.pdf Read the full text of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child There are 4 main rights that are important to children in care:  Article 6: Survival and Development You have the right to life.  Article 2: Non-Discrimination You have the right to protection against discrimination. This means that nobody can treat you badly because of your colour, sex, religion, if you speak another language, have a disability or are rich...
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