I am writing to bring you some good news about progress in our campaign to win a legal right to aftercare for young people who grew up in state care. Your support for this campaign has been important over the last couple of years and I thought you would like to know of the progress made.
As you will have heard and read, the report on 196 children and young people who died while in State care was published two weeks ago. The commentary on this distressing report has been wide-ranging and serious, and among all that has been said you may well have missed an important and welcome new commitment by Minister Fitzgerald.
In her speech at the report launch, Minister Fitzgerald said: “
All children in care should be entitled to an a ssessment of their needs before they are 18 and all children in care should be entitled to the supports that they need. I believe the law needs to be strengthened in this regard… and with advice from the Attorney General, I will be proposing legislative change later this year, in the bill to establish the Child and Family Support Agency.”
Discussions with the Minister’s staff indicate that the intention is to create two legal rights in the legislation. First, that there will be a legal right to a formal assessment of what support needs a young person in care will have as they move into adulthood. Second, support needs have been identified in this assessment must actually delivered in aftercare provision
This is a different approach than the straightforward change from ‘may provide aftercare’ to ‘shall provide aftercare’ which we proposed. However, depending upon the final wording of the legislation, this has the pot ential to provide a rigorous assurance to vulnerable young people.
Focus Ireland has welcomed the Minister’s announcement and the timeframe for it. We will closely monitor the wording of the proposed legislation to ensure it provides the assurances we have campaigned so long to achieve.
You may be interested in reading an article in today’s Irish Times which highlights Focus Ireland’s aftercare services and campaign.
You may be interested in supporting another issue we are currently campaigning on – the need to change the welfare rules which can trap young homeless people in emergency accommodation. You can read more about that campaign here:
In the meantime I want to thank you for your support for the aftercare campaign, and we will keep you informed as it moves to what may be it s final stages.
Director of Advocacy