EPIC services in response to COVID-19 guidance

Following all HSE and government guidelines with regard to the COVID-19 crisis, EPIC will continue to provide services as normal, as far as possible, given the restrictions set by these guidelines. The EPIC Crisis Communication Team is continuously monitoring the ongoing situation, as it affects our services, and will respond and adapt as necessary, placing the best interests of the children and young people we serve at the centre of all decisions made. In the event that we have to close any of our offices, we have contingency plans in place for our team to work remotely and all of our staff will be contactable by email and phone at all...

#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....

News & Events

News & Events What's Happening?   #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 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/ Monday 17th Feb 2020 - Performance of ‘Removed’  Epic in Partnership with Tusla Mid-West are very proud to celebrate CARE DAY 20 with a performance of the play “Removed” on Monday 17th of  February in the Millennium Theatre, LIT Removed is a collaboration between Prime Cut Productions, writer Fionnuala Kennedy and VOYPIC, a charity working with children in care and young people across Northern Ireland, learning from them and exploring their experiences. The story in this play is fictional. It is not the story of any one individual person, but rather an amalgam of the many various stories heard, some sad, funny, terrifying, all very real and important. Registration for the play “Removed” is now open. Please see link below Registration for this event includes the following schedule: 11.30am               “Performance of “Removed” 12.30pm               Lunch 1.45pm                 Workshops Staff can use the both the play and workshop as credits for CPD. Link for registration: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/national-care-day-2020-celebration-organised-by-epic-tusla-mid-west-tickets-89545265299 Please note: this registration link is valid for both practitioners, foster carers, young people over the age of 16, teachers Gardai. When you register there are two ticket options: Practitioners or Foster Carers. Workshops will accompany the performance of Removed.  These workshops aim to further creatively explore the experience...

20 Years of EPIC: A Social Workers’ Reflection

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 Aoife Gilligan Quinn   It was a role as a mental health and criminal justice advocacy worker in London which lead me to choose to become a social worker. Many of the adults I worked with had grown up in care, or had contact with Social Workers as children. I saw the value of independent advocacy in supporting people to feel heard, and to assert their rights, and I wanted to do this same work, but with children and young people, so that they might access the right supports, at the right time, and avoid the difficult road faced by the adults I met in London. I trained away from home but came back to Dublin and spent ten years working as a social worker for children in care and their families in Dublin. Joining the board of EPIC has afforded me the privilege of continuing to have an input into advocacy for children and young people in care. I have been delighted by the young people I have encountered, and their fierce determination to drive improvements to the system of care in Ireland, and to ensure that every care experienced child and young person in Ireland is supported to assert their rights. As a social worker, the sight of EPIC information on display when I visited with children and young people in their homes always brought a sense of relief. It was a simple indication that children were aware of, and...

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...

Next year EPIC will be 21

Independent advocacy is a process of helping children to express themselves and make changes. It empowers children to ensure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard at all times and is a means of achieving social justice because ‘everyone matters, and everyone is heard’. Independent Advocacy in Child Protection - Guidance for Policy Makers (National Children’s Bureau 2013)   EPIC was formally founded twenty years ago, and in that time has grown from an organisation of just three people providing independent advocacy to children and young adults in North Dublin, to a service providing direct one to one advocacy and participation programmes nationally, with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. The past 20 years of this EPIC journey has been one of discovery, often challenging, sometimes arduous, but always driven by a passion and commitment to ensure that children and young people were given a voice, that their voice was heard, and that they could participate in and influence decisions being made about them and also effect change in the care system, to ensure the lived experience of all children and young people in care will be a positive one. The work of EPIC is predicated on the belief that independent advocacy and participation for children in care, is an integral part of our child protection and welfare system and the belief that it will be recognized as such. While it’s fair to say that we are not there yet in achieving this recognition, we believe that we have made considerable progress in reaching this objective. Advocacy is relatively new to Ireland and still...

EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – a Christmas Wish List

Press Release Download PDF EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – an open letter: All I want for Christmas - A Christmas Wish List Dec 19th 2019 EPIC’s plea to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – an open letter All I want for Christmas - A Christmas Wish List EPIC-Empowering People In Care, received with disbelief the news that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, and her department, had returned almost €60 million to the exchequer unspent. It might be argued that current financial procedures within government mean that underspends within any budget cannot be re-allocated. We believe that such an enormous amount of money should not be returned to the exchequer when so many children and young adults are in desperate need of services that they can’t access due to lack of adequate resources and significant underfunding. They should be entitled to an explanation from the Minister as to why they are being left in dire need when money was available to address this. We endorse the  recommendation from the Public Accounts Committee that a proper management system be established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, to ensure that when funding is provided by the Oireachtas,  it is utilised in the appropriate manner, and is used to fund services that are necessary and lacking. However, we also believe that the Government should be held fully accountable for budget decisions that affect the lives of children and young people, and we  are calling on the government to implement a more cohesive budgetary policy for children and youth...

EPIC Advocacy Report 2018

This report gives an overview of the EPIC Advocacy cases in 2018. This report gives an overview of the EPIC Advocacy cases in 2018. It presents a profile of the young people who sought advocacy support, identifies the main presenting issues and key actions taken by EPIC to address their concerns. The aim of EPIC’s advocacy work is to empower children in care and young people with care experience to have a say in issues that affect their lives. The nature of EPIC’s role can vary from providing basic information, for example, in relation to social welfare entitlements, to providing practical support, such as assisting a young person to find an educational course or accommodation. At the highest level of engagement, one of the EPIC Advocacy team may be asked by a young person to represent their views on their behalf, for example, by attending a care or aftercare review meeting. This is the tenth annual report on EPIC Advocacy cases, the first of which was in 2009. The number of Advocacy cases has increased substantially over these ten years – from 61 in 2009 to 653 in 2018. During the year 2018, there were eight Advocacy Officers in EPIC, two in each of the main regions: Dublin North East; Dublin Mid Leinster; South; and West. Therefore, on average, each EPIC Advocacy Officer dealt with 82 cases throughout the year, which has increased from an average of 73 cases in the previous year 2017, when there was a total of 589 EPIC Advocacy cases. In 2018, there were 395 Referrals to the EPIC National Advocacy Service. This number had...

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...

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...
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