Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Questions (507)

Thomas P. Broughan


507. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the work her Department is undertaking with the Department of Justice and Equality on pathways to residency for undocumented children; the supports in place for undocumented children in care and aftercare; the number in the care of Tusla by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46369/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Justice and Equality has primary responsibility in the area of asylum and immigration.

Tusla has for a number of years had a dedicated service for separated children seeking asylum, who may or may not be undocumented. These children can be referred to Tusla on arrival in the country by immigration officers or be brought to Ireland through resettlement programmes such as the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).

Tusla operates an Equity of Care Principle for these children, meaning that they are provided with the same standard of care as any other child in the care of the State, with no differentiation of standard care provision, care practices, care priorities, standards or protocols.

As with other children in care, separated children seeking asylum may be placed in foster care or residential care.

Tusla supports children in acquiring documentation so that they can access all entitlements and the means of doing so may be different in each case bearing in mind the individual needs of the child. These matters are managed locally where possible or referred for legal support as required either locally or nationally.

At the end of August 2019 there were 61 children in care under the Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum. At the end of June 2019 there were 98 young persons under this team in receipt of aftercare services, each of whom had an allocated Aftercare Worker.

The International Protection Act 2015 requires Tusla to arrange for the appointment of an employee of Tusla or such other person as it may determine to apply for international protection on behalf of a child referred to its care under that Act where it appears to Tusla on the basis of information available to it, including legal advice, that such an application should be made. The Tusla Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum works closely with officials of the Department of Justice and Equality and the immigration service in this regard.