Deputy, thank you for your question.
As you highlighted, action 65 of the Ryan Report Implementation Plan states that ‘the HSE will, with their consent, conduct a longitudinal study to follow young people who leave care for 10 years, to map their transition to adulthood’.
Following on from a scoping study done by Dr Carmel Devaney in 2013, a feasibility study on conducting longitudinal research on children in care / leaving care was carried out by the same author and Dr Cliona Rooney. The report of that study, The Feasibility of Conducting a Longitudinal Study on Children in Care or Children Leaving Care within the Irish Context (Devaney and Rooney, June 2018), provided a detailed overview regarding longitudinal research for children in care and those leaving care.
There is agreement between my Department and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, that greater knowledge of the lives of children in care and leaving care is necessary and in accordance with evidence informed policy and practice. To that end agreement was reached to establish a working group, comprising relevant officials from both my Department and Tusla. To date the first two meetings of the working group have taken place.
The purpose of the working group is to inform me on how the recommendation for longitudinal research into the lives and experiences of children in care and leaving care can best be met.
It is planned that the working group will meet on 5 occasions at 4-6 week intervals approximately after which time a high-level summary report, outlining the findings and conclusions of the working group will be delivered. It is planned that this report will be delivered in Q3 2021 after which time I will make a decision regarding the next course of action.