Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has welcomed the approval by Government of a policy proposal brought forward to strengthen the legislative provisions for aftercare, by amending the Child Care Act, 1991 to provide for a statutory right to the preparation of an aftercare plan and to draft heads of legislation along the lines of the policy outlined.
Under the Child Care Act 1991 the Health Service Executive (HSE) has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children up to 18 years. Children who are in need of care and protection which cannot be provided by their family are received into care. Notwithstanding improvements in recent years, it has been decided to strengthen the legislative provisions regarding aftercare to make explicit the Child and Family Agency’s (CFA) obligations in this area. It is proposed to impose a statutory duty on the CFA to prepare an aftercare plan for an eligible child. The aim is to create an explicit, as opposed to implicit statement of the CFA’s duty to prepare a plan that identifies a child’s needs for aftercare supports.
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “It is crucial that an aftercare plan is prepared to identify the supports that young people need leaving care as they transition to adulthood. I believe that the measures approved by Government will strengthen existing practice and improve the outcomes for young people, especially those who are more vulnerable. A consistent implementation of aftercare planning should assist in improving the effectiveness of existing services for these young people leaving care.”
The HSE’s responsibilities with respect of aftercare planning will transfer to the CFA on its establishment under the Child and Family Agency Bill 2013, which is currently before the Oireachtas.