Child Care Act 1991, Part IV Section 45
This section of the Child Care Act outlines how young people leaving care ‘may’ be supported when they reach they reach their 18th birthday. Section 45 allows the HSE to support young people up to 21 years of age if the young person is in education.
- This allows the HSE/ TUSLA to assist the young person or visit them
- Support them to complete their education
- Assist them to find a suitable trade of profession
- Assist them to secure accommodation
- Assist young people in applications to housing authorities for housing
The Child Care Act helped to inform other documents including:
The Youth Homeless Strategy 2001
Which set up protocols and set out procedures to ensure young people with care experience don’t experience homelessness as adults.
It advises that each HSE Local Health Office works with local authorities along with other statutory and voluntary groups to develop an aftercare strategy. The strategy looks at what supports young people need to get an effective aftercare service. They consider a range of measures including accommodation, education, training and other support.
The protocols made it clear that
- Aftercare is an important part of the care process.
- Health Boards (HSE) ensure they have a written policy on aftercare and that all staff know what supports and entitlements for young people leaving care.
- Staff are supported to understand the policy and ensure it’s implemented.
- A budget is provided for aftercare support for young people.
- That specific staff or aftercare workers are appointed to work with young people to support them leaving care and help them avail of other services e.g. supported lodgings.
- Key workers in residential care have responsibilities to help young people leave residential care centers.
- Residential centers should have aftercare support officers to make sure the aftercare policy is adhered to and that every young person has an aftercare support plan in place when leaving care.
The Report of the Commissions to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009, (Ryan Report) Implementation Plan:
Recommendation 16 states: Children who have been in State care should have access to support services.
Aftercare services should be provided to give young adults a support structure they can rely on. In a similar way to families, child care services should continue contact with young people after they have left care as minors. The provision of aftercare by the HSE should form an integral part of care delivery for children who have been in the care of the State. It should not be seen as a discretionary service or as a once-off event that occurs on a young person’s 18th birthday, but rather a service that he or she may avail of up to the age of 21.
The Actions to be taken were also given a timeframe to be completed:
- The HSE will ensure the provision of aftercare services for children leaving care in all instances where the professional judgment of the allocated social worker determines it is required.
- The HSE with the young person’s consent will carry out a longitudinal study to follow young people who leave care for ten years, to map their transition to adulthood.
- The HSE and Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will review the approach to prioritizing identified ‘at risk’ young people leaving care and requiring local authority housing.
- The HSE will ensure that care plans include aftercare planning for all young people if 16 years and older.
- The HSE will ensure that aftercare planning identifies key workers in other health services to which a young person is referred, for example disability and mental health services.
- The OMCYA, in conjunction with the HSE, will consider how best to provide necessary once off supports for care leavers to gain practical lifelong skills.
Draft National Quality Standards for Residential and Foster Care Services for Children and Young People 2010:
Standard 13: Preparation for adult life and aftercare support states
‘Each child and young person is helped to prepare for adult living assisted to manage the transition from care and supported to attain independence.
Outcomes: Each young person experiences the transition to aftercare and adulthood as a series of graduated steps that are negotiated with assistance from trusted adults, timed in accordance with their wishes and abilities, with additional time for adjustment at various stages if required
Other legislation relevant to Leaving and Aftercare Services include:
- The Youth Work Act 2001
- The Education Welfare Act 2000
- National Children’s Strategy 2000
- Social Services Inspectorate Annual Reports
- HIQA Draft National Quality Standards for Residential and Foster Care Services for Children and Young People 2010
- National Health Strategy 2001
- National Adult Homeless Strategy
Relevant regulatory documents include:
- Childcare (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995
- Childcare (Placement of Children in Residential Care) Regulations 1995
- Childcare (Placement of Children with Relatives) Regulations 1995