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Children leaving care receive extra rights

500-600 children entitled to aftercare plans as they begin adult life

“Resources in place to deliver for young people to begin independent living”

Thursday, 31st August 2017

500-600 children leaving state care upon reaching the age of 18 will from tomorrow (Friday 1st September) have the right to an aftercare plan to identify any future supports they may require, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Minister Zappone is confirming that there will be a statutory obligation to provide an aftercare plan which will identify supports required for children as they prepare to start adult life.

The Minister says resources, including aftercare workers, have been put in place to ensure this happens before a child leaves care.

Confirming that this new right is about to commence Minister Zappone added:

“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 a young person’s new independent living needs to begin years prior to leaving care and continue as part of the care planning process.

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

It is specific to the individual young person's needs.  During the preparation for leaving care an aftercare worker is introduced to the young person. They are involved in the preparation for the leaving care process.”

Jim Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Tusla said:

"Tusla – Child and Family Agency welcomes the introduction of the Child Care Amendment Act 2015 which will strengthen the legislative basis for the provision of Aftercare services.

Tusla has advocated for this important change to assist young people in making the transition from a young person in care to adult life, and to ensure consistency of support to these young people/ young adults in aftercare from 18 years and up to 21 years of age. 

This may be extended if a young adult is in full time education or accredited training to the age of 23 years. Aftercare Services are an adult service but are integral to the provision of alternative care."  



Aftercare Provision

Young people leaving care need ongoing support in order to achieve their potential.  The provision of an appropriate aftercare service has been highlighted as a key element to achieving positive outcomes for young people upon leaving care.  It is essential that young people leaving care are provided with the type of transitional support that their individual situation requires.

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.
Aftercare – Legal Provision

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. 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 Minister has decided to strengthen the legislative provisions regarding aftercare to respond to past concerns that there was insufficient focus in this area and that such planning was not taking place on a properly structured and consistent basis.

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.

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