Legislation currently being prepared by the Department
Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016
The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published on 25th November 2016.
The main purpose of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is to provide for a scheme whereby adoption information, including information required to obtain a birth certificate, may be provided to an adopted person subject to certain conditions. The Bill also provides that birth parents and other persons may obtain information about an adopted person, subject to the other party's consent. The Bill further provides that a person who may have been the subject of an 'informal care arrangement' or an 'incorrect registration' and a birth parent of that person is entitled to apply for information under Part 5 of the Bill.
Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2018
The main purpose of the General Scheme of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2018 is to replace the existing provision in section 26 of the 1991 Child Care Act with more extensive provisions relating to Guardians ad litem. The overall objective is to ensure that the Guardian ad litem service can be provided to benefit the greatest number of children and young people, so that their voices can be heard in child care proceedings and that this service will be of high quality and sustainable into the future.
The Government originally gave its approval for the publication of a General Scheme of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2017 in January 2017. This was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs for pre-legislative scrutiny and the Committee provided the Minister with its recommendations in May 2017.
Following a Government Decision in December 2017 for a new Guardian ad litem service to be established within an executive office of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, a revised General Scheme was approved by Government in February 2018. The revised Scheme also addresses the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee. The Bill is currently in the course of drafting. It is anticipated that the Bill will be published in the spring/summer Oireachtas session.
General Scheme of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2018
More information the reform of Guardian ad litem arrangements in child care proceedings
Adoption (Information and Tracing (No.2)) Bill
Provisions relating to an information and tracing service for a person who has been the subject of an inter country adoption were originally included in the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 (see above). It is now proposed to include those provisions in a separate Bill. The Department is continuing to develop policy in this regard and has committed to introducing information and tracing legislation in relation to inter country adoptions as soon as possible.
Legislation Enacted in 2018
Childcare Support Act 2018
The Childcare Support Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 2 July 2018. The Act is an essential element in the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme, which provides a new approach to supporting affordable access to quality childcare in Ireland.
The Act places the Affordable Childcare Scheme on a legislative footing, replacing four existing, non-statutory targeted childcare schemes. The ECCE Scheme will remain in place and will not be affected by the introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme. The scheme provides for subsidies to be paid to make childcare more affordable for parents, including both childcare for pre-school children and childcare for school-age children. The scheme allows for childcare during term-times and full-time childcare during holiday periods.
The new scheme provides a system from which both universal and targeted subsidies can be provided towards the cost of childcare. In the case of targeted subsidies, these are be payable for children from 6 months of age up to 15 years of age. The level of subsidy is dependent on the investment available and on a family's income.
The scheme also involves a continuation of the universal subsidy (which was introduced in September 2017) to be payable for children between the ages of 6 and 36 months (or until the child qualifies for the free pre-school programme, if later) who are availing of childcare by a Tusla registered childcare service. The universal subsidy will not be means tested and will be available for families at any income level.
The Affordable Childcare Scheme will also create a flexible platform for future investment in childcare funding supports, allowing subsidies to be expanded to more children and families over time.
- Childcare Support Act 2018
- Childcare Support Bill 2017
- Explanatory Memorandum
- Regulatory Impact Assessment
Legislation enacted in 2017
Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017
The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 was signed into law on 19th July 2017 and was commenced (other than certain definitions in section 3) by S.I. No. 443 of 2017. This Act follows on from the enactment of the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Act 2012 which was signed into law on 28 April 2015. The main purpose of the Act is to amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide:
• that married parents may place a child for adoption, on a voluntary basis, in circumstances where both parents place the child for adoption and where both parents consent to the making of the adoption order;
• for revised criteria so that where an application to adopt a child is made in respect of a child who is in the custody of and who has had a home with the applicants for a period of at least 18 months, and where that child’s parents have failed in their parental duty towards that child for a continuous period of not less than 36 months, the High Court may dispense with parental consent and authorise the Adoption Authority to make an adoption order in respect of that child;
• that the best interests of the child is the paramount consideration in relation to any matter, application or proceedings under the Adoption Act 2010 and that the views of the child shall be ascertained by the Adoption Authority or by the court, as the case may be, and shall be given due weight, having regard to the age and maturity of the child.
• for the adoption of a child by civil partners and cohabiting couples, and
• for the adoption of a child by his or her step parent without the requirement for the child’s other parent to adopt his or her own child.
Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017
Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016