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Reform of Child Care Act to allow Children’s voices to be heard

“All children in child-care proceedings must have opportunity to access Independent Guardian ad litem”

Minister Zappone to address Barnardo’s Conference at Croke Park


Tuesday 4th April, 2017

Statement by Dr Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

A full review of the child care act will ensure that children in crisis are given supports, protections and a voice in their future, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

The review will focus on ensuring that the views of children will be central to any decisions which impact on their family and home life.

Minister Zappone was speaking ahead of a Barnardo’s  Conference ‘Getting the Balance Right’, which she will address at Croke Park today (Tues 4th April 2017).

 Minister Katherine Zappone added:

“We are at a key moment in our efforts to protect the most vulnerable children in our country.

It is a quarter of a century since the introduction of the Child Care Act.  It is now time to revisit our laws, regulations and policies to examine where we can do better for our children.

The review will ensure that the voice of the child is not lost or ignored. It will be placed absolutely central to any decisions which are taken.

In addition we must end the adversarial nature of child care proceedings. Such an approach can leave a legacy which makes rebuilding family and home life difficult or even impossible.

We need the relationship between social work teams and families to be based on trust and respect – allowing a mediated approach rather than courtroom battles.

Today we gather to mark 20-years of the Barnardo’s Guardian ad litem (GAL) service. A timely gathering as TDs and Senators will this week be discussing legislation which will introduce a national regulated service.

This has been welcomed by children’s rights campaigners and is in line with 26 submissions received from organisations.

It is my intention that every child in care proceedings will have the opportunity to avail of the support of such a guardian ad litem – with a requirement on courts to give reasoning when an appointment is not made.

As the legislation underpinning the introduction of the new GAL National Service progresses I look forward to continuing my discussions with frontline organisations, rights groups and politicians from all sides to ensure as a country we deliver for our children.

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