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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015

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Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2015
Bills
Snippet Contents:

I am a great believer that prevention is better than cure. Let us ensure the service is right before it opens its doors. We do not have the legal right to do this. It is important. This is not to say most people would not like to be registered and inspected. I doubt anybody goes into this service without the best intentions. Senator van Turnhout inferred from the figures we gave that 140 are in unstable accommodation. We have made great progress on this and will make further progress on it. The Senator mentioned the fact that time spent in detention schools is not included in the assessment of duration spent in care. A person might be in detention for a purely criminal activity and have no other issues, and it would not be appropriate to include this as time spent in care, whereas for those who have a care history, it would absolutely feed into the assessment.
The question of "may" versus "shall" brings us back to the statutory rights issue. Although the average age of leaving a home is 25, many people leave home long before this age. Maybe, in an ideal world with unlimited economic resources, we could aspire to offering support up to the age of 25 in the future. Hopefully, with the ongoing financial recovery, it might be possible sometime in the future. The Senator suggested giving children in care over 12 months a plan at the age of 16. Although we considered it, things can change so much, and the plan must be made again. It is far too early. One would have to consider the situation. The six months out gives plenty of time, and the three months relates to those who have been away and return to care, and who would not have qualified until they did so.
I am happy to say there is additional money in this year’s budget for more inspectors. Tusla will have more inspectors. Senator Moloney raised an issue regarding a child with difficulties being moved to a different county during his or her leaving certificate exams. It strikes me as bizarre, and I will investigate it if the Senator will give the details. Extending CAMHS to 23-year-olds would be a major decision for the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. In the past, we had terrible difficulty with children moving from age 16 to 18, particularly in my constituency, with different parts of the service saying they did not look after people of that age. Children were falling through the cracks. I do not want it to be repeated. With proper co-ordination, co-operation and greater coherence of approach, we can improve outcomes for our children, especially those in care.
Senator Quinn mentioned an appeal mechanism. There is no need for an appeal mechanism, given that it is reviewed within three months if the person is unhappy. This is a de facto appeal. The Senator raised some other issues which EPIC raised, which I did not quite hear. I have met EPIC on a number of occasions and while Jennifer Gargan does fantastic work with young people who have been in care, the people who have been in care are the real resource there. They are phenomenal young people who feed back in a very meaningful way about their experiences in care and the issues they found difficult and which we would seek to address, including continuity with their social workers. They have produced a wonderful little book for children going into care, which is very clever. Although it is ostensibly geared at the child, it is also geared at the adult giving the care and makes one think about what a child who is going into care is experiencing. I thank EPIC and all those children who have been in care who have gone back to help others who have been in care and who continue to contribute.