20th Anniversary Article by Suzanne O’Brien

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 article written by EPIC Participation Officer and Care Leaver Suzanne O’Brien.   In 2012, I was 23 years of age and in my fifth year of a social care degree. I was in the beginning stages of completing my thesis on ‘Aftercare’ and finding myself more and more frustrated with the lack of data/ information and outcomes on care leavers in Ireland. I soon took this frustration to my college tutor who simply said, “All I had to do was go to EPIC”. This was said in such a way that suggested that to do so would somehow give me the holy grail of access to the information and young people that I needed for my thesis. That same night I went home and googled EPIC. What I found was a website that held lots of information about care, legislation, rights, and videos exploring what it meant to be in care. This organisation was set up to support children in care and those with care experience, but I as a care leaver had never heard of them? I never knew that they could have helped me when I needed help the most. Why was that? In 1997, at nine years of age and through no fault of my own, I became a child in care. In 1999, my mam then passed away and I soon became reliant on the state to care for me up until my 18th birthday. Throughout my childhood, I was the...

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...

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...

20th Anniversary Article Series Introduction

                         EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series Introduction This year is the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Irish Association of Young People In Care, which in 2011 became EPIC Empowering People In Care. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration we are delighted to present the first of a series of articles which we hope will provide interesting overview on EPIC from our foundation in 1999, to our work today and the future direction of the organisation. The articles are written by individuals and groups who have shared EPIC’s journey in one way or another over the past twenty years. These articles are written by Young People, members of the EPIC Youth Council, current and former members of the EPIC team, Board Members and professionals from other organisations that have worked closely with EPIC and contributed to where we are today. All articles will be available under the News & Events>20th  Anniversary menu tab on our website at https://www.epiconline.ie/topics/20th-anniversary/ We hope that you will enjoy these articles and join us in celebrating our 20th year....

20th Anniversary Article – EPIC The Beginnings

                         EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series      EPIC – The Beginnings By Mr. Ken Hodgins, former HSE Social Work Team Leader February 2019   The beginnings of IAYPIC – the Irish Association of Young People in Care began as far back as April 1995. The Childcare Committee of the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW), which I chaired, brought together a group of young people in care alongside other agencies including the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) and the Children’s Legal Centre; and the ‘Young People in Care Support Network’ was established.  This group faded away unfortunately after about six months due to lack of support.  The following year, when the IASW was meeting with the Department of Health regarding the setting up of the Irish Social Services Inspectorate (which later became HIQA) the Department offered me an opportunity to bring a group of young people in care, into the Dept. of Health to give their own views on the setting up of the Inspectorate and the Care System overall.  This took place in October 1996, and one of the priority items on the young peoples’ agenda was to receive a commitment from the Dept. of Health to provide funding to set up a professionally run organisation to represent the voice of young people in care and care leavers.  This group met again a few weeks later in an office in Focus Point (which later became Focus Ireland) and I believe that this was when we formally called themselves IAYPIC (following the Australian Organisation AAYPIC, and VOYPIC...

20th Anniversary Article – A personal reflection

                                                       EPIC Anniversary Article Series               A personal reflection on the early days of EPIC By Catherine Carthy – founder of EPIC 24th January 2019   On the 15th January 2000, I began work in the role of National Co-ordinator of the Irish Association of Young People in Care (IAYPIC). It sounds grander than it was, as in reality the organisation was a desk on the top floor of Barnardo’s Head Office in Dublin, a mobile phone and a 2-page project proposal. In the first weeks, I began to draw up plans of how we could action their vision for the organisation. We initially met as a small group of five, but quickly identified a number of key people to be part of a wider management committee. The organisation was still little more than an elaborate proposal with a co-ordinator. Within a number of months, IAYPIC was being recognised as an organisation that represented the views of young people in care and we began to be inundated by requests to participate on boards and fora where the voice of young people in care had been missing heretofore. The National Children’s Strategy was being drafted in those first months of 2000, and John Collins from the Department of Health asked IAYPIC to convene a group of young people with care experience who would give their views on what they thought should be included in a ten-year children’s strategy....

Football Blitz and Flashmob

20th February 2019 #CareDay19 Football Blitz and Flashmob February 20th 2019 Continuing To celebrate children in care Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved Last Friday the 15th of February saw EPIC and other organisations around the world celebrating care day. Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. EPIC is continuing these celebrations on Wednesday the 20th of February in collaboration with Don Bosco to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.ie/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be collaborating for the 3rd year with Don Bosco Care in a football blitz, with support from Dublin City Sport and Wellbeing (D.C.C.) and Swim Ireland, in Clontarf between 1 and 3pm, as part of our #CareDay19 celebrations. This is a wonderful event for young care leavers to have some fun and promote health and positivity in care.  Across town, in the centre of Dublin, other young care leavers will participate in a flashmob on Wednesday afternoon. It will be a fun afternoon! So, get vocal, get social and get involved in celebrating the successes and positive achievements of those in care or with care experience this Wednesday.” Ciaran Kenny, Don Bosco said: “Every Tuesday for the last ten years about 20 young people gather to kick a football around in Clontarf. It is a wonderful social outlet for Young People with care experience, a great way for these young people to be part of a community, to have a positive experience, and have...

Care Day 2019 Diary Notice

DIARY NOTICE A global celebration of children in care – February 15th 2019 Friday February 15th 2019 Care Day 2019   Who: A Global Celebration of Children & Young People with Care Experience What: Katherine Zappone T.D, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will launch Care Day at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and Children’s Ombudsman, Mr Niall Muldoon, will host an event at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office at 3pm. Both events are centred on children and young people with care experience, some of whom will speak and perform. Where: TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and The Ombudsman for Children’s Office at 3pm When: February 15th 2019 Background: Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. EPIC is hosting several events around the country to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.ie/ AVAILABLE ON THE DAY Interview Opportunities: Care Experienced Young People & Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 087 2370269 Katherine Zappone T. D. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will be available for comment at our event in TU Dublin Tallaght Campus DIARY NOTICE CARE DAY 2019 EPIC -...

Care Day 2019 – #CareDay19

Blog-events-announcements #CareDay19 follow the great events at https://careday.ie #CareDay19 Care Day 2019 is on February 15th.  Care Day (see careday.ie) is the world’s largest celebration of children and young people with care experience. Care experience includes children and young people who are or were cared for by family members with the support of social workers; by foster carers; or children and young people from children’s homes and residential units. They deserve to be celebrated, on care day, and every day. Find out more, join in and keep up with all the great #CareDay19 events happening in Ireland, the UK, and beyond on the CareDay site at careday.ie Care Day 2019 is an opportunity to celebrate the rights of care experienced children and young people, towards a world where young people are proud, fulfilled, are able to thrive and achieve their dreams. We invite every child and young person with experience of care, as well as those who care for and support these young people, to join in this day of united celebration. It is an opportunity to illustrate how care experienced people can feel different to others and why. February 15th 2019 is the next Care Day; and we would encourage everyone to get vocal, get social, and get together in celebration of the care experienced community. Find out more by visiting...

Celebrate #CareDay18

Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC said “On February 16th next, EPIC, with our 5 Nations 1 Voice partners, will celebrate the third ‘Care Day’ since we launched the inaugural Care Day in 2016. Care Day is an opportunity to unite in celebrating the rights of care experienced children and young people, their stories and their achievements. This year we look forward to the biggest Care Day yet by welcoming even more children, young people, their friends, family and carers and care organisations to join in the celebrations. Be part of changing the story for children and young people in care and care leavers by spreading the word for Care Day 2018 and joining us through your participation in the celebration of Care Day 2018! #CareDay 18 - Show your support and get involved! How to get involved… Take a selfie with the downloadable Placard, and on the 16th of February post it on social media using the hashtag #CareDay18 - If you’re not okay with posting a selfie, you can just post a picture of your placard. You can also use our Care Day Twibbon to show your support easily on your Facebook or Twitter page. Care Day Twibbon Young Persons Placard Supporters...

Education Fair for Young People in Care

RELEASING POTENTIAL - EDUCATION FAIR FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE! Children, young people, carers, and relevant professionals welcome to this information fair on educational opportunities for young people in care after they leave school! When: Saturday 25th November 2017 // 11:00-1:00PM Where: Graduates Memorial Building (GMB) Trinity College Dublin Map to GMB available here // For more information visit...
Expressions of Interest Requested for Tender-Evaluation of Implementation of EPIC Strategic Plan

Expressions of Interest Requested for Tender-Evaluation of Implementation of EPIC Strategic Plan

Purpose of the Evaluation The Board of Directors is inviting expressions of interest from suitably experienced consultants to conduct an evaluative study of the performance of the organisation in the implementation of its Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015. The findings from this study will contribute to the strategic direction of the organisation over next 5 years. Required Evaluation Outcomes An analysis of the overall implementation of the Strategic Plan 2013 -2015 Review the implementation of the strategic plan and identifying successes and areas for improvement; The process should include producing a written Evaluation report including recommendations The process A tender assessment panel will examine all expressions of interest received. The panel will need to satisfy itself that those expressing interest have demonstrated that they have the level of skills and experience required to carry out the study, that they have the ability and experience to manage and the contract and are available to do so within the timeframe. They will also be able to demonstrate value for money. Those expressing an interest should fill out the short questionnaire which can be accessed by following the link at  Expressions of interest for tender -Evaluation of Implementation of Strategic Plan 2013 -2015 Please submit questionnaire to Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC at jennifergargan@epiconline.ie Those shortlisted (up to a maximum of 6 ) will be invited to submit a full tender document. Closing Date : 5.00pm Tuesday April 26 2016 Enquiries Any query in connection with this expression of interest can be submitted by email to the Director Jennifer Gargan jennifergargan@epiconline.ie...
EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CARE DAY 2016!

EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CARE DAY 2016!

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT: EPIC and TUSLA Celebrate #CAREDAY 2016!  Immediate Release: 19/02/16 Where: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium Walk, Strand Street, Dublin 1.   When: 19th February 2016  EPIC and Tusla - The Child and Family Agency will officially launch and celebrate the first National Care Day on the 19th of February 2016. This is a special day marked to celebrate the positive experiences and lives of children and young people in State Care. A special event will take place at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in Dublin where a number of young people will present to invited guests. Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan stated: “Today EPIC and Tusla launches what we hope will be an annual event that continues to grow. Care Day aims to increase public awareness and celebrate the talents and achievements of children and young people in care. We hope that this event will show the importance of highlighting the many positive experiences young people have in care.”    Fred McBride, Chief Executive, Tusla stated “Tusla are pleased to celebrate in partnership with EPIC this first National Care Day in Ireland. It is important for us as an Agency to acknowledge and honour the many  achievements of children and young people in care.” Care Day will also be celebrated on February 19th in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as part of a wider campaign to promote a positive care identity for young people across all 5 Nations. ENDS This event can only be attended by invitation only. If you are interested in attended this event, please contact EPIC at (01) 8727661. You can follow and engage in this...
Celebrating the First National Care Day

Celebrating the First National Care Day

For information on CareDay 2019, please visit careday.ie (The post below is historical for info only)   Celebrating the First National Care Day  EPIC will launch and celebrate the first National Care Day on the 19 February 2016 Venue:                 Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium Walk, Strand Street, Dublin 1. Date:                     19 February 2016 Time:                    2.30 – 4.00p.m. This is a special day marked to celebrate the positive experiences of children and young people in state care.  EPIC will facilitate a special event where a number of performances and presentations will be made by young people to invited guests at the OCO, Dublin. The event is part of a larger campaign that EPIC are involved in with their partner organisations across the Five Nations:- England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As part of the event EPIC will launch their Postcard Campaign and we will call on everyone to tweet your wishes for children and young people in care using the # below #CareDay...
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