I can advise the Deputy that, at the end of December 2018, the most recent date for which information is available, there were 6,026 children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Since 1 September 2017 Tusla has been required by law to satisfy itself as to each eligible child or young person’s need for aftercare assistance and to prepare a plan that identifies those needs for aftercare supports. An eligible child is defined as a child aged 16 years or over who has spent at least 12 months in the care of the State between the ages of 13 and 18. An eligible adult is defined as a person aged 18, 19 or 20 (inclusive) who was in the care of the State for at least 12 months between the ages of 13 and 18.
When confirmed eligible, an assessment of need will be undertaken jointly by the child’s social worker and after care service within four months, or six months prior to their 18th birthday. The aftercare plan will be determined by each young person’s assessment of need.
The assessment of need determines the level of support which the young person will require as part of an aftercare plan. It encompasses all categories of need including, at a minimum:
- Financing and budgeting matters
- Training and employment
- Health and wellbeing
- Personal and social development
- Family/emotional support
The assessment of need will determine whether the young person requires an allocated aftercare worker.
Following the assessment of need Tusla will prepare an aftercare plan, if required. An aftercare plan is a written plan that is prepared by the aftercare worker and the young person in conjunction with their social worker and other key people in their lives. These plans can be reviewed at the request of the young person or a person acting on their behalf.
Tusla reports in Q3 2018 that almost half of young people, aged 18 to 22, remained living with their former foster carers. This indicates a strong support in the transition for these young people.
Aftercare services provided by Tusla include:
- An allocated aftercare worker from the age of 17 years up to the age of 21 years and up to 23 years if in education/ training (depending on the assessment of need)
- A drop-in service - which will provide advice guidance, support and signposting when required to all young people eligible for aftercare provision.
- Financial support based on a financial needs assessment and eligibility for those in education or accredited training up to the age of 21 years, or until completion of their course of education up to the age of 23 years.
- Tusla provide a young person in aftercare in education or training with an allowance of €300 per week.
Other financial benefits
- Young people in aftercare are also eligible for the higher SUSI grant. Unemployed young people in aftercare are eligible for the over 25 year old rate of unemployment benefit.