I propose to take Questions Nos. 485 to 488, inclusive, together.
Aftercare services build on and support the work that has already been undertaken by many, including foster carers, social workers and residential workers, in preparing young people for adulthood. Therefore the provision of aftercare services should not be seen as an event, but something that builds on the skills and capacity that young people have learned and developed during their time in care.
Tusla has undertaken an extensive review of policy as it relates to Aftercare Service Provision and developed a suite of policies and guidance documents to support the delivery of aftercare services.
Legislative provision for aftercare has been strengthened by the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015, which imposed a statutory duty on Tusla to prepare an aftercare plan for an eligible child or eligible young person, following an assessment of need. The Act created an explicit statement of Tusla’s duty to satisfy itself as to the child’s or young person’s need for assistance by preparing a plan that identifies those needs for aftercare supports. An eligible child for the purpose of this statutory entitlement is any child who has spent 12 months in the care of the State in the 5 years between the ages of 13 and 18 years old, while an eligible adult is any young person aged 18, 19 or 20 who has spent at least 12 months in the care of the State between the ages of 13 and 18 years. Specific legislative provision is in place for aftercare to continue until a young person is 23 years of age where they are finishing a course of education.
Aftercare encompasses a range of services, which can include direct financial support in the form of the aftercare allowance. The purpose of the allowance is to cover the day to day costs associated in supporting a young person as they progress in education or accredited training.
To qualify for an aftercare allowance at 18 years of age an eligible adult must be attending an accredited education course or training programme as outlined in their aftercare plan, and agree to engage with aftercare service requirements and provide updates on their progress.
Tusla does not collect the number of young people who seek or receive an aftercare allowance for the purpose of supporting them in education/accredited training. Tusla does however maintain records of those who are in education/accredited training. All young adults who are in accredited training/education are entitled to financial support for this purpose .
At the end of September 2018, there were 1,257 young persons in aftercare in education/accredited training.
It should be noted that aftercare is a service for adults, and their engagement with Tusla in relation to aftercare is purely on a voluntary basis. Tusla has no power to oblige a young person to avail of the support offered.
The number of young people who have left the care of Tusla upon reaching 18 years of age in each of the years 2015 to 2017 is set out in tabular form.
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2017 (provisional data awaiting validation)
Young persons who left State care (i.e., those discharged on reaching 18 years)