Date Released: 25 November 2013
Young people who have grown up in State care will have the statutory right to an aftercare plan under proposed legislation due to come before the Dáil in the coming months. The move follows a long-running campaign on the issue by Focus Ireland, supported by SIPTU.
The change in the law was approved by Cabinet in early November and will be brought before the Dáil by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald.
The proposal would amend the Child Care Act 1991 to provide for a statutory right to the preparation of an aftercare plan for young people leaving care as required before they turn 18.
Focus Ireland's director of advocacy Mike Allen said: “This new development will mean that all children in care have a legal right to be assessed to see if they will need aftercare when they leave once they reach 18. It is a really positive and historic development.”
"The crucial next step is for the entire Government to back Minister Fitzgerald’s work and ensure her Department has the essential resources to guarantee that the aftercare support and accommodation is provided for young people who are assessed – and crucially – where it is confirmed they require this support, to ensure that they don’t fall through the gaps when they leave care.”
Research carried out by Focus Ireland in 2000 found that two-thirds of the young people in the “Left out on their own” study were homeless at some point in the first two years after leaving care.