I do not propose to accept the amendment. As I mentioned on Second Stage, the Bill has a particular structure to ensure an obligation on Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to prepare and draft an aftercare plan for that cohort of children and young people who meet the eligibility criteria as defined. Section 7 of the Bill, in subsection (1), states quite clearly that, "The Child and Family Agency shall, where any need is identified in an assessment of need carried out in respect of an eligible child in the care of the Agency, prepare an aftercare plan for that child." That, I believe, is unequivocal. A plan must be prepared for an eligible child. It must address the needs identified in an assessment carried out in accordance with section 6. There are no conditions or exclusions attached to the requirement to prepare an aftercare plan for an eligible child. The assessment of need will consider, but will not be limited to, domains such as education, financing and budgeting matters, training, employment, health and well being, and personal and social development. This is all set out in section 6. The agency will be required to record in writing the needs identified in the assessment process.
As the Deputy is aware, the Child and Family Agency may not be the appropriate body to provide services to respond to all requirements identified in the assessment, yet it is this assessment of a broad range of needs that forms the basis for the aftercare plan. The need to have due regard to resources, therefore, does not present a barrier to the preparation and drafting of the plan.
I could continue at some length but the bottom line here is that we are clearly setting out a Bill that insists an aftercare plan be produced for children in care or those who have been in care. It allows them to then measure the plan against what is delivered. That is a huge step forward. Nowhere in our budgetary system is there allowance for exceeding one's ability to provide resources. We always have competition for resources between health, education, policing, etc. I believe the Bill to be a huge step forward. It addresses something that has seriously concerned me and, I know, many Members of this House, around the fact that in the past, many people who have left care have fallen into very serious difficulties, sometimes with tragic and fatal results.