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 -...

Care Day 2019 – #CareDay19

Living in Care #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...

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...

Starting the Conversation about People In Care

As someone who spent time in the care system, small talk, peppered, as it so often is, with questions about ‘home’ and ‘the family’, can feel like a minefield. It’s not like most people would think less of me if I just came out with it really, it’s just that a lot of them might be unsure how to respond. With Care Day (a celebration of children and young people with care experience) on February 16th, though, I think it’s about time that that discomfort began to fade. After all, to have a meaningful personal and political conversation about the care system, we are going to need to get over the initial awkwardness of talking about care. Endless depressing documentaries and gloomy articles about the care system lead some to believe that care will always and inevitably be a source of pain for anyone who’s been in it, and pain makes most of us uncomfortable. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t often bring my care past up. ‘It saves on tickets home!’ I sometimes joke, or I’ll tell whoever I’m talking to that ‘It’s fine!’. Whether being in care was painful or not for the person you’re talking to, that hurt won’t be alleviated by figuring out how to comfort you about it. Politically, too, the presumption that all care-related issues are difficult and sad topics make them less likely to be talked about. A governmental reluctance to really examine the care system means grant applications and government service forms often completely fail to allow for people with unconventional families. Inherent in the idea that the topic...

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...

Care Day – Save the Date

FEBRUARY 15TH - NATIONAL CARE DAY Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) Care Day 2018 will take place on February 16th.  Care Day 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 parents or other 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. Care Day is part 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. Care Day 2018 is an opportunity to celebrate the rights of care experienced children and young people. The alliance wants a world where the experience of these children and young people allow them to thrive and achieve their dreams so that they go onto have a future that is fulfilled, and something they are proud of. The 5 Nations, 1 Voice alliance invites every child and young person with experience of care to join in this day of united celebration. Those who care for and support these children and young people are also asked to celebrate. It is an opportunity to illustrate how care experienced people can feel different to others and why. So, on February 16th, next Care Day, everyone has the chance to get vocal, get social, and get together in celebration of the care experienced community....

RYAN REPORT-SIX YEARS ON, WHAT’S CHANGED?

Immediate Release: 20th May 2015  Today marks the sixth anniversary of the publication of the Ryan Report. The publication of the fourth and final progress report was submitted to the Oireachtas in March of this year. Despite progress since 2009, a number of actions recommended in the progress report remain incomplete or lack implementation on the ground. Speaking today, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan, highlighted EPIC’s concerns: “It has been six years since the horrendous findings of the Ryan Report were published. The Government then made a commitment to ensure that all children, especially our most vulnerable children would be protected to the highest standard.   Whilst we have witnessed some positive changes for children since the publication of the Ryan Report, a lot remains to be done. As a national advocacy organisation working with young people in State Care, there are a number of key issues that remain problematic. Many young people are still without an a allocated social worker, despite the recruitment of 270 social workers. This is in the context that there are more young people in care today than there were in 2009.   Aftercare services continue to be ad hoc, and in some cases, there continues to be a lack of care and placement planning. As a result, many young people engaging with our service feel that their voices are not heard in decisions made about their lives, and do not feel prepared to live independently at 18 years of age.    One of the key recommendations outlined in the Ryan Report includes a once-off life skills programme for young people leaving care, however...

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...
‘It’s about me’ – Report on Care Reviews

‘It’s about me’ – Report on Care Reviews

‘It’s about me’ - Young People’s experience of participating in their care reviews. Research report (2014) Care reviews are an integral part of the care planning process which involve making decisions about aspects of young people’s welfare while in State care, for example issues concerning their current placement, extent of family contact, education/schooling etc. The main aim of this EPIC research study is to explore young people’s experiences of participating in their care reviews, which includes preparation for the care review meeting,the actual meeting itself and feedback given to young people following the meeting. The report is available as a PDF here ( NB: If the file doesn’t open for you, you may need a free PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader installed on your device first to read...

CHILDREN IN CARE – OVERVIEW BRIEFING DOCUMENT

The predominant reasons children are admitted into the care of the HSE include: neglect/ physical abuse of a child; a parent unable to cope; a family member abusing drugs/alcohol; a child with emotional/behavioural problems. There has been a consistent increase in the total number of children in care in the last decade.  Over the past ten years 200 000 children and young people have been referred to child protection services, of which 20 000 were recorded as having child protection needs.  There are nearly 6000 children in care, of which the majority of children are in foster care.  It must be noted that there is a deficit of data on children in the care system and their outcomes. ..Read More (full PDF document below) Attachments Briefing Document_Overview Children in Care_FINAL...
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