Educational needs of children in care

Co-Authored Letter published in the Irish Times of September 22nd 2020 Sir, – A high-level national working group to address the cross-departmental responsibilities of the State to children in care, with a specific focus on meeting their holistic educational needs in a coordinated way, across all age levels, is urgently needed to address the current glaring strategic gap in the education system on this issue. The majority of children in the care of the State (under Tusla) live with foster carers. According to current Tusla figures, there are 6,029 children in care, of which 92.1 per cent were placed in foster care (26.3 per cent of those in foster care being placed in relative foster care). It is estimated that in every primary school in Ireland there is at least one young person in that school who is in care, and in every secondary school there are between four and five young people in care. Key issues need to be considered at an official level by an interdepartmental group across the Department of Education and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Clarity is needed on which ministry is responsible for leading state policy regarding children in the care of the State, and which ministries share or have responsibility, at any level, for children in the care of the State. It is a concern that children in care may be overrepresented in the suspension and exclusion groups. As children in care experience trauma, loss and attachment difficulties, there is a lack of school-based emotional counselling and therapeutic supports for this and other vulnerable groups. Other additional mentoring supports in schools...

EPIC Pride

#EpicPride Pride 2020 Events Schedule of Events ? EPIC are supporting the rights and experiences of LGBT+ children and young people in care and with care experience The chosen hastag is #EpicPride and we ask that you upload your picture of support to social media on the day of Pride only (27th) and also nominate others via social media to do the same. Our Facebook event is here A number of fun Zoom events have been organised, including a Pride movie night, stay at home Scavenger Hunt, Pride Baking, Pride Makeup Tutorial, Pride Quiz and more! See our schedule of events for more info Please note that for all of these events, anyone who would like to take part, will need to contact suzanneobrien@epiconline.ie to register their interest for the event(s) as the zoom link will only be sent to people who have expressed their interest in attending. For security and confidentiality, links will not be posted online and attendance at any zoom event will be by direct invite only. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. View Schedule of Events Pride 2020 Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) FollowFollowFollowFollow [/et_pb_sidebar] #EpicPride - schedule of events Skateboarding tutorial - mon 22ND PRIDE - Get Baking! EPIC PRIDE QUIZ - wED 24th June PRIDE Makeup Tutorial PRIDE Movie Night - Friday 26th @ 7pm STAY AT HOME SCAVENGER HUNT - 27TH JUNE #EpicPride - 27th - Show your Support! #EpicPride -POSTER #EpicPride - Supporting LGBT+ Children & Young...

A Survey of Children’s Residential Care Services in Ireland during the COVID-19 crisis

A survey undertaken to assess the impact of COVID19 on staff and children in residential care. The survey sought to document the challenges arising for children and staff as a result of the COVID19 restrictions, the impact on work practices, the need for increased or additional support and any innovative practices emerging as a result of the crisis Read the full report (PDF) Get Report...

EPIC support mental health champions Pieta House

Press Release May 5th 2020 EPIC supported mental health champions Pieta House to raise awareness of mental health difficulties faced by some of society’s most vulnerable – Children in Care and Care Leavers With the annual event of ‘Darkness Into Light’ behind us, we find ourselves in a reflective, emotive and hopeful time. This annual event struck a deep chord with the EPIC team and with the EPIC National Youth Council who this year sadly lost a true champion with the passing of a friend and colleague Shane Griffin. For those of you who do not know Shane, we can tell you that he was a true friend to everyone he met, a loving and devoted father with the biggest and kindest heart. Shane spent much of his adult life passionately advocating for improving the experiences of children in care and care leavers as a result of his own traumatic experience of state care. This year we did not just lose a friend but an ambassador for our care community, one whose dedication, authenticity and commitment to improve the lives of children in care and care leavers cannot be replaced. While Shane’s passing was a deeply troubling time for members of our care community and those that support them, the sad reality faced us all that, as professionals, we know all too many care leavers who have not been adequately supported to overcome their trauma and in turn are struggling immensely as adults who have now ‘left the system’. On Saturday morning, May 9th at 05.30am members of the EPIC National Youth Council and the EPIC staff team spent time...

New Advocacy Phone Support Service

New Advocacy Phone Support Service  In response to our current circumstances we are pleased to announce the launch of our dedicated Advocacy Phone Support Service, for Children in Care and Care Leavers on 01-9631272 The line will be open 2 days a week on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 2-4 pm, from Tuesday 31st of March. This service is being offered to provide those in care and with care experience direct access to an Advocacy Officer to support them with any queries or concerns that may arise for them during this time. We are mindful that calls to landlines may be expensive for children and care leavers. If you can’t call us directly, you can send us a private message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or text us on 087-9036598 and request a call back from an Advocacy Officer. Important:  NEVER leave your phone number, name or address in a public post on social media. Use a private message only. Please note that call-backs will only be made between 2-4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 01-9631272 Open Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2pm-4pm. Can’t call us? We’ll call you! You can text us to request a call back on 087-9036598...

Concerned about the Corona Virus?

Concerned about the Corona Virus? In response to concerns expressed by Young People to members of the EPIC team, about the threat of Corona Virus (COVID-19) here are some practical steps to take, to protect yourself and others. We encourage you to follow the hand washing technique recommended in this Video For younger children, this PDF booklet and workbook on the Corona Virus can be downloaded and printed, to help them understand and work through any worries they may have.   Download Children's Booklet Watch Video I have been to an affected region in the last 14-days I’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case I’ve been in close contact with a probable case I HAVE symptoms 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. 1.Stay away from other people, do not come to work. 2.Phone your GP without delay. 3.If you do not have a GP phone 999. 4.Do not attend a hospital or GP clinic unless instructed to do so. I DO NOT HAVE symptoms No restrictions are necessary, go about your daily routine as normal. You may be required to self-isolate. Check with your health care provider. Work from home unless you develop symptoms. No restrictions are necessary unless:   a)your healthcare provider recommends...

#CAREDAY20 – A Global Celebration of Children in Care

Press Release February 21st 2020 #CareDay20 A GLOBAL CELEBRATION OF CHILDREN IN CARE – FEBRUARY 21st, 2020 Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved Care Day is the world’s largest celebration of children and young adults in care or with care experience. This community of children and young adults deserve to be celebrated, on Care Day, and every day! EPIC is hosting a range of events around the country to celebrate children and young people in our care community. Check it out on https://careday.org/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be celebrating Care Day 2020 on the 21st of February. It is an initiative of the ‘5 Nations 1 Voice Alliance’ – an alliance made up of five children’s rights charities across the U.K. and Ireland: Become in England, EPIC in Ireland, VOYPIC in Northern Ireland, Voices from Care in Wales, and Who Cares? Scotland. This year we are also joined in our celebrations by Finland, Spain, Croatia, Romania, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia. It is such an exciting and positive day internationally, and each year it is growing. Care Day is a day where we are asking you to show your support, get vocal, get social and get involved in celebrating the successes and positive achievements of all children and young adults in care or with care experience.” EPIC is delighted that Care Day 2020 will be formally launched by Tusla’s Child and Family Agency’s CEO, Bernard Gloster, from St. Laurence’s Church TU Dublin, Grangegorman, City Campus, from 10am to 12 noon. Be part of changing the story for children and young people in care...

The Care Experience Podcast

The Care Experience Podcast is explores the experiences of people who grew up in the care system from all over the world. It is presented by a care-leaver Thomas Mongan and an Advocate Peter Lane. It is brought to you by EPIC empowering people in care, an Irish Advocacy and Participation Charity. The Podcast aims to raise awareness and fight stigma by giving a platform to people who know the most about the care-system: the people who experienced it first hand. Episode 6 - Feb 20th 2020 In this episode of The Care Experience, Thomas and Peter visit the Headquarters of the Irish Child and Family Agency, TUSLA. They have a candid and frank discussion with TUSLA CEO, Bernard Gloster about what is going well in the Irish Care System and what is not going so well. They discuss the aftercare service, fostering and homelessness. They also talk about the need for kindness and creativity to be part of children in care’s life. Episode 4 - Feb 16th 2020 This podcast contains an interview with the Irish Times columnist Patrick Freyne about media bias and stereotyping. There is also an interview with Australian Activist and Care-Leaver, Leilani Houston about the Australian care system. Episode 3 - Feb 13th 2020 In this episode, Thomas and Peter interview Suzanne O’ Brien about the EPIC Youth Council and the work that they do. There is also an in depth discussion with Dutch Play-wright and Care-leaver about her work with young people understanding and getting through their trauma using the means of drama. Episode 2 - Feb 12th 2020 In this episode, Thomas...

Press Release – EPIC’s manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020

Press Release Monday February 3rd 2020 EPIC’s Manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020 6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care #GE2020 #EPICManifesto With the general election less than a week away - we need to make sure that the next government does much more for children in the care system. We are calling on all those who will be elected to the 33rd Dail to prioritise children in care and with care experience in the next Programme for Government. Please share our Election Manifesto and get behind us in promoting our key asks. EPIC is calling for: 1. The Right to Independent Advocacy: All children in care and with care experience should have a right to independent advocacy. The right to independent advocacy for all children and young adults in the care system must be enshrined in legislation. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents the optimal time for this. 2. To Extend the Age Limit for Aftercare: EPIC calls for a full review of the Aftercare system including the extension of the upper age limit for aftercare support to 26 years of age. 3. To Improve Data Collation: Increase data collated and published on children in care and include a longitudinal study on children in care into adulthood. Data on educational outcomes for children in care from primary, secondary, post leaving cert and 3rd level education is essential. This data should be benchmarked against children and young people in the general population to see where additional supports are needed to improve outcomes of children in care and beyond....

EPIC’s manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020-6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care

EPIC’s Manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020 6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care #GE2020 #EPICManifesto EPIC is calling for: 1. The Right to Independent Advocacy: All children in care and with care experience should have a right to independent advocacy. The right to independent advocacy for all children and young adults in the care system must be enshrined in legislation. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents the optimal time for this. 2. To Extend the Age Limit for Aftercare: EPIC calls for a full review of the Aftercare system including the extension of the upper age limit for aftercare support to 26 years of age. 3. To Improve Data Collation: Increase data collated and published on children in care and include a longitudinal study on children in care into adulthood. Data on educational outcomes for children in care from primary, secondary, post leaving cert and 3rd level education is essential. This data should be benchmarked against children and young people in the general population to see where additional supports are needed to improve outcomes of children in care and beyond. 4. To Improve Mental Health Support: All children and young adults in care must be provided with a variety of dedicated mental health supports, including therapeutic support, to enable them to deal with their experience of trauma and to help them to build appropriate coping skills and resilience. The State must provide all necessary supports and interventions within the state and immediately stop sending children and young people outside of this jurisdiction for specialist care. Dual supports to...

Invaluable work of the Child Care Law Reporting Project raises major concerns

EPIC- Empowering People in Care congratulate the Child Care Law Reporting Project and welcome their report published today. This project provides invaluable insight and important focus on some of the difficulties that children in care and their families face when going through court proceedings. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, speaking about the report said: “EPIC has on many occasions, and over a period of years raised the importance and urgency of ensuring we can properly care for all our young people in care with complex needs and mental health issues, in Ireland. It’s simply not acceptable that we continue to send children and young adults abroad for specialist intervention that should properly be available to them in Ireland and we must cease this practice and instead focus on developing our own services and facilities to provide appropriate support to those children and young adults who require it.  Furthermore, it is unacceptable that some children must be made wards of court in order to receive out of state care and our mental health legislation must be reviewed as a matter of urgency to ensure this requirement is removed. The next Government should make this a principle focus.” Special Care can be a highly effective intervention and therefore it is necessary that efforts be increased to ensure that the full capacity of beds be operational, and the 58 available posts are filled. As part of this there must be more step-down accommodation available. Glen Alainn as one example, a step-down unit that is currently open, is not being maximised, and more such units must be established. Importantly, we must ensure that...

Launch of EPIC’s 2018 National Advocacy Report

Press Release Download PDF The State has to act to prevent young people moving from care into homelessness EPIC- Empowering People in Care today launch their 2018 Advocacy Report which saw 653 children and young people with care experience accessing the National Advocacy Service. This is an increase of 11% from the previous year and demonstrates the continuing increase in demand for advocacy services, despite the fact that children and young adults in the care system are not routinely made aware of the service. Our 2018 report again highlights the importance of independent advocacy in our child protection and welfare system to ensure that the voice of every child and young adult is heard, in decisions which affect their lives. The main presenting issues facing children and young adults in the 2018 report have not changed since EPIC began collating this information six years ago; with care placement, accommodation, aftercare, family contact and parental rights all continuing to top the list. Speaking about the report, EPIC’s CEO, Terry Dignan said: “EPIC remains the only national service providing independent advocacy to children and young adults in the care system. While recognition of the importance of independent advocacy is growing, we are still some way behind the UK where advocacy was given a statutory basis, through the National Health Service Act, in 2006. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents an opportunity to recognise advocacy in legislation in Ireland. As we continue to try to come to terms with the tragic consequences of a past where the voices of children and young adults in care were not heard...

20th Anniversary Article by Katelyn Kelly

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 Care Leaver Katelyn Kelly.   Care experience over all: I had a good experience overall during my time in care. I had only one placement during my time in care. I don’t think if I was not in care that I’d be the same as I am today for many reasons. Being in care has truly changed me as a human being. If I wasn’t in care, I don’t think I would have finished school or even went on to college. Being in care made me go and achieve a goal I would have never thought I would have. Being in care made me a strong independent woman I never knew I could be. I had a very supportive upbringing with my foster parents always being there to cheer me on with achieving things such as completing the leaving certificate, something I never could see happening if I was still in my birth home. How I came into Care: I came into care when I was 7 years old along with few of my siblings. I was put into care because my parents had issues of their own and couldn’t mind me or my other siblings. My Dad had Asperger’s and my Mum had autism. Most of their children had one of these conditions and they couldn’t mind us because they had children who had needs while trying to deal with their own needs was a struggle and a difficulty for them....

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...

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 – 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...

CHILD PROTECTION MUST ALWAYS BE A PRIORITY

28th February 2019 Child protection must always be a priority For every organisation working with children child protection must be the priority above all else. It is of concern that despite such poor findings from a HIQA inspection in January 2018 that it took until January 2019 for Oak Lodge Fostering Services to cease operating. A further announced inspection was carried out in September 2018, but worryingly many significant failings and major non-compliances remained. EPIC commends HIQA for their inspection process. EPIC believes that the provision of an appropriate action-plan for services such as Oak Lodge Fostering Services to improve and meet minimum standards should be considered. Such a plan would be collaborative between HIQA, Tusla and the service provider and have clear deliverables with a realistic timeframe and regular oversight of progress made. A repeat unannounced inspection, or series of inspections where resources allow, could be carried out within a reasonable timeframe to verify progress. A nine-month delay between inspections, such as in the case of Oak Lodge, seems excessive in the case of serious concerns around child protection. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “Too often we are seeing that organisations working with children are not prioritising child-protection through the development of a robust and appropriate child protection framework and the training of staff and volunteers in the protection of children.  With the considerable support and assistance available to organisations in developing frameworks and policies, through organisations like Tusla and others, there is no excuse for any organisation not to have a robust framework of policies and protocols for the protection of children in place and suitable training...

Press Release #CareDay19

#CareDay19 A global celebration of children in care – February 15th 2019 Get Vocal, Get Social, Get Involved 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/ Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said: “EPIC is delighted to be spearheading this year’s Care Day 2019 on the 15th of February. It is an initiative of ‘5 Nations 1 Voice’ – an alliance made up of five children’s rights charities across the U.K. and Ireland: Become in England, EPIC in Ireland, VOYPIC in Northern Ireland, Voices from Care in Wales, and Who Cares? Scotland. This year we are also joined in our celebrations by The Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia. It is such an exciting and positive day internationally, and each year it is growing. Care Day is a day where we are asking you to show your support, get vocal, get social and get involved in celebrating the successes and positive achievements of those in care or with care experience.” Conor, Care-Leaver and student said: “CareDay promotes all the positive stories about care experienced people. There are so many negative stories out there. It is really important for us to be able to counteract the stereotypes” We are delighted that Katherine Zappone T.D, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will today formally launch Care Day at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus (Room 001) at 10.15am and following this the Children’s Ombudsman,...

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 -...

EPIC are very concerned at use of handcuffs and pepper-spray on children

Press Release November 16th 2018 EPIC - Empowering People in Care are very concerned at use of handcuffs and pepper-spray on children EPIC – Empowering People In Care, has expressed serious concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in an announced inspection of the Gleann Alainn Special Care Unit in Cork. Special care units can often be challenging environments for both the children placed in these units and the staff. Children placed in these units are often extremely traumatised and do require significant levels of support. If we are to achieve positive outcomes for them we have to ensure that the maximum level of support is given to every child based on their own individual needs. As a minimum standard, all staff working in these units must have access to appropriate training, including refresher training, as part of a continuous professional development programme to enable them to provide care in accordance with evidence based practice, the statement of purpose and policies and procedures. In the report issued by HIQA they found that a significant number of staff did not have training in key areas nor did they have an adequate understanding of the requirements of the regulations. The report also found that the unit did not have a sufficient skill mix of staff members in the special care unit at all times and that the unit did not have appropriate numbers of staff present at all times. The question that must be asked is if sufficient numbers of appropriately trained staff, with the optimum mix of skills, had been present on the unit at...
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