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...

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...

20th Anniversary Article Series Introduction

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

20th Anniversary Article – EPIC The Beginnings

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

20th Anniversary Article – A personal reflection

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

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 2020 – #CareDay20

Care Day 2020 – #CareDay20 The next #CareDay is on 21st February 2020 visit the CareDay site CareDay Countdown ! 21st Feb 2020 Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s)   Care Day 2020 is on February 21st. #CareDay20 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 #CareDay20 events happening in Ireland, the UK, and beyond on the CareDay site at careday.ie Care Day 2020 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 21st 2020 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...
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