The 40 year age gap for foster parents is to be removed

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone confirmed the news in the Dáil

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is to remove the requirement of a 40 year age gap between potential foster parents and any child they wish to receive into their care.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone confirmed to Independent TD Mattie McGrath in a parliamentary reply that Tusla will seek full implementation of the new policy before the end of the year.

“This is a matter that has generated serious concern", Mr McGrath said in a statement. "It is the kind of guideline that made absolutely no sense and was essentially discriminatory in character."

Tusla is now engaging in a formal review of the Foster Care Committee Policy.

The long-delayed Government report into serious foster abuse in the south-east went before Cabinet this month after the final legal hurdles blocking its publication were overcome.

It found the HSE failed to properly investigate claims of cover-up and also failed to properly investigate the alleged "deliberate destruction of files", and threats to pull funding for the whistleblower who repeatedly highlighted the controversy.

The report, by independent senior counsel Conor Dignam, was first commissioned by former Labour TD and Department of Health junior minister Kathleen Lynch 16 months ago to examine serious foster abuse allegations in the south-east.

These allegations centered around a woman with severe intellectual disabilities, given the pseudonym ‘Grace’, who was alleged sexually abused, assaulted internally with a blunt object causing life-limiting injuries and at one stage forced to live in a cubby hole underneath the foster family’s stairs.