EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series

                         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...

EPIC 20th Anniversary Article Series

                                                       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....

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...

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...

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

#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 – Comment on the publication of the Interim Report of the Farrelly Commission of Investigation

EPIC – Comment on the publication of the Interim Report of the Farrelly Commission of Investigation

EPIC – Comment on the publication of the Interim Report of the Farrelly Commission of Investigation It has emerged that families of the victims of abuse at the ‘Grace’ case foster home are deeply upset at the “highly confrontational and adversarial” nature of the Farrelly Commission of Investigation. This is deeply disturbing. The welfare of the families of the victims of this investigation must be paramount. It is imperative to the integrity of this and all future investigations that victims, and the families of victims, are treated at all times with respect and sensitivity. EPIC now calls on the Government to ensure that the concerns of these families are listened to, heard and responded to, to ensure that this is not the experience of those other families yet to give evidence. EPIC supports the granting of a 12-month extension to complete phase 1 of the investigation if this will ensure that the full facts of the case are brought to light. In light of the requirement for a 12-month extension to deal with the unanticipated volume of evidence, EPIC also calls on the government to carry out a review of resources to ensure that the investigation has the capacity to complete this and future investigations within agreed...

Our response to latest HIQA findings

EPIC – Empowering People In Care, has expressed serious concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in announced inspections of Oak Lodge and Care Visions Fostering Services. The finding that both services were majorly non-compliant in five of seven standards assessed is of serious concern and that both organisations were found to be majorly non-complaint in safeguarding and child protection and that Care Visions Fostering was found to be majorly non-compliant in the assessment and approval of foster-carers raises obvious serious concerns. EPIC said that it was of particular concern that in the case of Care Visions Fostering there were no safety plans in place for a child placed with foster carers where concerns about the carers were known to the social work team and in another case no visits had occurred with the foster carers two months following a significant event. EPIC CEO Terry Dignan said: “It’s simply not acceptable that any organisation working with vulnerable children would not have adequate child safeguarding and protection systems in place. We have seen time and again the devastating impact on children of failures to have robust reporting systems in place and to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion to allegations. As an organisation that works to make children’s voices heard, the finding that the children placed with foster carers were not always met with as part of the visit is incomprehensible and goes against the fundamental principle of a child-centred approach. We support HIQAs work in highlighting ongoing failures within our childcare services but feel strongly that prompt and appropriate action must be taken...

EPIC statement regarding HIQA Foster care report findings

EPIC – Empowering People In Care, has expressed serious concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of major non-compliance with national standards in foster care services operated by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, in the Dublin South Central, Dublin North City and Cavan / Monaghan areas. EPIC said that it was of particular concern there were twenty findings of non-compliance, either moderate or major, from twenty four standards measured across the three areas. Major non-compliance was found in six of eight areas of the foster care service in the Dublin South Central area, in five of eight in Dublin North City and in two of eight in Cavan/Monaghan with all three areas found to be majorly non-compliant in safe-guarding and child protection and review of foster carers. EPIC CEO Terry Dignan said: “It is deeply concerning that we are seeing repeated failings in key areas by these services. It’s critical that the failings identified by HIQA are prioritised and addressed effectively and in a way that ensures continuous improvement in those areas and that improvements are maintained and applied consistently across the system”. “We welcome the response by Tusla to address the failings highlighted by HIQA and would call for any additional resources required to ensure the success of the action plan being implemented by Tusla would be put in place without delay” For all media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact: Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC                     Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 087...

Deficiencies in our Mental Health Services for Children Persist

EPIC welcomes the latest report by Carol Coulter and her team in the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP). While Ms. Coulter’s reports shed a positive light on the progress that continues to be made in our care system they also highlight the challenges that continue to exist. One of the issues highlighted in the latest report published today (January 29th) is the fact that we continue to have to send some of our children abroad for treatment. The question must continue to be asked as to why the referral of children abroad for specialised therapeutic interventions has become an accepted feature within our health and social care system and why we, as the 8th best performing economy in the world cannot provide the resources to care for all of our children, regardless of need, here at home. Even more significantly, as long as we continue to send children and young people abroad, we must work to ensure that any such placement is for the shortest possible period of time and that the significant resources invested in providing these specialised interventions abroad are not undone upon returning home due to a lack of appropriate follow on placements and continuing supports available here. Children with severe psychological and psychiatric needs require robust diagnosis and assessment with a properly designed and regularly reviewed short, medium, and longer term support plan in place.  The case of a teenage girl who spent 9 months in a Special Care Unit without receiving psychiatric support is clearly of concern.  Wrap-around psychiatric services with multidisciplinary input are urgently needed for many young people suffering from serious...

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...

Statement on Mandatory Reporting

EPIC cautiously welcomes the introduction of mandatory reporting of child protection concerns by professionals, introduced on Monday December 11th. This commences the final part of the Children First Act 2015, which places a legal obligation on professionals to report child protection concerns to the Child and Family Agency and to assist the agency with its assessment of concerns about children who have been the subject of a report. It also fulfils the 2011 Programme for Government commitment of putting reporting of child abuse on a statutory footing. Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said “More responsibility and ownership on reporting of abuse cases is a positive step, however we need to ensure that mandatory reporting does not overshadow continued investment in recruiting and retaining of social workers, coupled with early community intervention and support; the cornerstone of effective child protection.  EPIC would not like to see the positive progress being made by Tusla to be impeded by a diversion of resources in response to an overabundance in mandatory reporting.” Child protection is everyone’s responsibility, but it is now clear where that responsibility lies in terms of reporting concerns about a child’s welfare and protection. Tusla has issued publications and online training to enhance awareness and understanding of the new responsibilities. If you want to report a concern, see...

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....

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...
Audit into the use of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 by An Garda Síochána identifies a crucial need for an out-of-hours social work service

Audit into the use of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 by An Garda Síochána identifies a crucial need for an out-of-hours social work service

MEDIA RELEASE IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 29.05.2017 11:30am Audit into the use of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 by An Garda Síochána identifies a crucial need for an out-of-hours social work service EPIC welcomes the publication of the audit into the use of Section 12 by An Garda Síochána by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection. This audit, the first of its kind in Ireland, is an encouraging step towards greater transparency and accountability of An Garda Síochána in its use of exceptional powers. This in-depth analysis of removals of children from the care of their parents, guardians, or persons acting in loco parentis demonstrate that Gardaí generally acted reasonably and responded appropriately in challenging circumstances. EPIC is however seriously concerned by the poor levels of inter-agency cooperation and collaboration between An Garda Síochána and Tusla. This report shows that Gardaí were often kept in the dark about the progress of cases once they had handed children over to the care of Tusla. Ensuring that the child receives adequate care and protection is paramount, and efficient inter-agency work is crucial to conform to child protection best practice. In addition, EPIC is alarmed by the reliance of Tusla on a private fostering service, to fulfil part of their out-of-hours service. It is unacceptable to rely on a private provider when they do not have the obligation to take in all children removed under Section 12, and can refuse to take in children demonstrating challenging behaviour. Speaking following the publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Terry Dignan made the following comments: “EPIC is concerned by the reliance...
HIQA Dublin South Central Foster Care Service Report Identifies Serious Child Protection Issues

HIQA Dublin South Central Foster Care Service Report Identifies Serious Child Protection Issues

MEDIA RELEASE Immediate Release: 18th April 2017, 12.00PM HIQA Dublin South Central Foster Care Service Report Identifies Serious Child Protection Issues The latest HIQA report on the Dublin South Central Foster Care service only identifies one standard being met, 20 standards requiring improvement and significant risks under five standards: Safeguarding and Child Protection, Assessment and Approval of Relative Foster Carers, Review of Foster Carers, Management and Monitoring of Foster Care Agency and Training and Qualifications. Although the service was meeting children’s education needs, and the children had developed warm relationships with their foster parents and all had an allocated social worker, persistent delays of several years in assessments and foster care committee decisions, as well as decisions to maintain children in the care of foster parents who had been assessed as being unsuitable and relative foster parents where known risks existed jeopardised the long-term safety of children in the care of the State. Speaking following the publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Terry Dignan made the following comment: “EPIC is alarmed by HIQA’s findings on the extent of the child protection concerns in the Dublin South Central Foster Care Service. It is seriously worrying that children were found to be placed with foster carers who weren’t adequately vetted, or were maintained in placements where serious concerns for their potential long-term safety and well-being had been raised. It is crucial to protect children from crisis-led placements, and ensure that an adequate review mechanism is in place to remove children from unsafe placements. Keeping children safe is paramount. We trust that Tusla will address the grave issues raised by HIQA,...
Care Day 2017: Celebrations Kick Off Next Week!

Care Day 2017: Celebrations Kick Off Next Week!

MEDIA RELEASE Immediate Release: 09th February 2017, 11.15AM EPIC is celebrating the second annual Care Day on Friday the 17th of February 2017 at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in Dublin at 5.00PM. It is a special day to celebrate the positive experiences of children and young people in care. Young people and professionals have been invited to share their positive experiences of the care system. This event will be preceded by a creative workshop for young people. Care Day is part of a larger campaign that EPIC is involved in called Five Nations One Voice. It is a collaboration with four other care organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Several other events are taking place all around the country in the week preceding Care Day 2017: EPIC is organising two football tournaments, one in Clontarf with Don Bosco Care on the 15th of February from 3-5pm, and one in Cork’s Glen Resource Centre on the 17th of February. EPIC’s Limerick office is hosting a Care Day coffee break on the 17th  and to top things off the young people from the Galway Fora have organised a Care Day party with bowling and laser tag! Social Work Teams around the country are also organising events to celebrate Care Day. They will be sharing their selfies on Facebook and on Twitter using the #CAREDAY2017! Director of EPIC, Terry Dignan stated: “Last year’s first ever Care Day was incredibly successful in promoting positive care identities and raising awareness around the issues that children and young people in care face. With Care Day we hope to further increase public awareness of...
Care Day 2017 is only 6 weeks away !

Care Day 2017 is only 6 weeks away !

Immediate Release: 6th January 2017 WHERE OMBUDSMAN FOR CHILDREN’S OFFICE MILLENNIUM WALK, STRAND STREET, DUBLIN 1 WHEN 17th OF FEBRUARY 2017 (TIME TBC) EPIC will celebrate the second annual National Care Day on the 17th of February 2017. This is a special day to celebrate the positive experiences of children and young people in the care of the State. EPIC will facilitate an event at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in Dublin, which will include a creative workshop for young people and opportunities for them to talk about being in care. This event is part of a larger campaign that EPIC is involved in called Five Nations One Voice. It is a collaboration with four other care organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, all of which aim to create better outcomes for young people in care and promote a positive care identity for young people. Director of EPIC, Terry Dignan stated: “Last year’s first ever Care Day was incredibly successful in promoting positive care identities and raising awareness around the issues that children and young people in care face. On the 17th of February we hope to give young people an opportunity to celebrate being in care, further increase public awareness of care issues, and celebrate the voices, talents and achievements of children and young people in care. We look forward to celebrating with them and with everyone who will be showing their support by using the #CAREDAY2017”   Several other events will take place in the week preceding Care Day 2017. Details will be shared shortly. ENDS Media interviews with young people are only available upon request.  Notes...
HIQA Residential Care Centre Report Identifies Grave Child Protection Issues

HIQA Residential Care Centre Report Identifies Grave Child Protection Issues

Immediate Release: 29/11/16 The latest HIQA report on a Residential Care Centre described significant risks identified under four standards: Care of Young People, Safeguarding and Child Protection, Premises and Safety, and Management and Staffing. The inspectors found that although the centre was appropriately meeting children’s education and health care needs, and promoting good relationships in between staff and children, its failure to manage behaviour, risk, communication and supervision had resulted in some instances in children experiencing significant harm, and in children being frequently placed at risk of significant harm. Speaking following the publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment: “EPIC is very concerned by HIQA’s findings on the extent of the risks present in this residential centre. We are alarmed by the number of negative significant events notifications that occurred over the last year, and we hope that swift action will be taken to address the high number of incidents of children being absent from the centre. It is seriously worrying that children were found to be exposed to higher risk situations and behaviours than the situations they were removed from. Keeping children safe is paramount, especially during times of crisis. We trust that Tusla will address the grave issues raised by HIQA, to ensure that serious incidents are dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner, and that children are protected from harm.” The children in Ferryhouse have complex needs, which is why a safe environment is crucial to their wellbeing and ensuring positive outcomes. The layout of the building was found to be unsuitable and preventing children from being kept safe....
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