EPIC’s Manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2020
6 ways to stop failing children and young people in state care
With the general election less than a week away – we need to make sure that the next government does much more for children in the care system. We are calling on all those who will be elected to the 33rd Dail to prioritise children in care and with care experience in the next Programme for Government. Please share our Election Manifesto and get behind us in promoting our key asks.
EPIC is calling for:
1. The Right to Independent Advocacy: All children in care and with care experience should have a right to independent advocacy. The right to independent advocacy for all children and young adults in the care system must be enshrined in legislation. The current review of the Child Care Act 1991 presents the optimal time for this.
2. To Extend the Age Limit for Aftercare: EPIC calls for a full review of the Aftercare system including the extension of the upper age limit for aftercare support to 26 years of age.
3. To Improve Data Collation: Increase data collated and published on children in care and include a longitudinal study on children in care into adulthood. Data on educational outcomes for children in care from primary, secondary, post leaving cert and 3rd level education is essential. This data should be benchmarked against children and young people in the general population to see where additional supports are needed to improve outcomes of children in care and beyond.
4. To Improve Mental Health Support: All children and young adults in care must be provided with a variety of dedicated mental health supports, including therapeutic support, to enable them to deal with their experience of trauma and to help them to build appropriate coping skills and resilience. The State must provide all necessary supports and interventions within the state and immediately stop sending children and young people outside of this jurisdiction for specialist care. Dual supports to encompass addiction and mental health must be rolled out.
5. To Recruit and Retain More Social Workers: A national social work recruitment and retention action plan and roll out is required. We need more social workers and better supports and incentives to retain them. There should be better and more contact between children in care and their social worker, but this can only be achieved if we have the required number of social workers.
6. To Ensure No Child Moves from Care to Homelessness: No child leaving care should have to access homeless accommodation. EPIC is part of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness and supports their action points. Step down and supported accommodation for care leavers and vulnerable young people must form part of any housing plan.
Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC, said:
“We are calling on the next government to place a higher priority on children and young adults in state care, and make a commitment in the next Programme for Government, to address the urgent issues facing these children and young adults. As one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups of children and young people in our state, it is imperative to ensure that they are cherished, enjoy a fulfilling childhood and realise their full potential. The issues we have highlighted here will help to achieve this.”