New aftercare introduced for children who leave State care

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone confirmed the news in the Dáil this evening

New aftercare introduced for children who leave State care

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone speaking to the media at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Follow-on care will be made available to children that leave State care after turning 18, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone confirmed today.

Between 500 and 600 children leave care each year after reaching the age of 18. Now, these children will have access to a new 'aftercare plan' from September 1st.

Answering questions in the Dáil the Minister confirmed that funding will be available to ensure proper resources are in place, including aftercare workers, to meet what will be a new statutory obligation.

Minister Zappone said: “I am conscious that the transition to independent adulthood can be challenging for many young people.

"This is particularly true for children and young people in care. Planning for leaving care needs to begin in the years prior to leaving care and continue as part of the care planning process."

The preparatory work will be facilitated by a social worker and will be based on collaboration with the young person, their carers and partner agencies.

Minister Zappone added that the plan will be specific to the individual young person's needs.

Aftercare Provision

The Department of Youth Affairs said young people leaving care need ongoing support in order to achieve their
potential. 

Aftercare provision incorporates advice, guidance and practical support. The social worker, aftercare worker, young person, carer and others identify what the young person will need for support and how this will best
be met. This may include education, financial support, social network support, and training.

One of the key features of aftercare support is to advocate on behalf of young people to promote their development as a fulfilled adult in their community.

The most important requirements for young people leaving care are for secure, suitable accommodation, access to further education, employment or training and supportive relationships.

Legislation

Section 45 of the Child Care Act 1991 places a statutory duty on Tusla to form a view in relation to each person leaving care as to whether there is a "need for assistance" and if it forms such a view, to provide services in
accordance with the legislation and subject to resources.

Young people who have had a care history with Tusla are entitled to an aftercare service based on their assessed needs. The core eligible age range for aftercare is from 18 years up to 21 years. This can be extended until the completion of a course of education in which a young person is engaged, up to the age
of 23 years.

The approach adopted is to impose a statutory duty on Tusla to prepare an aftercare plan for an eligible child or eligible young person. The aim is to create an explicit, as opposed to implicit, statement of Tusla’s duty to satisfy itself as to the child’s or young person’s need for assistance by preparing a plan that identifies those needs for aftercare supports.