Aftercare constitutes a key element of how we, as a society, help young people leaving the care of the State to make the critical transition into adulthood. Aftercare was one of the areas I highlighted when I secured additional resources for Tusla in 2019. The aftercare provisions of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015 came into force on 1 September 2017. This means that there is now a statutory obligation on Tusla to prepare an aftercare plan for each eligible child and young person. This plan encompasses the range of supports that a young person may need from all service providers, including Tusla, to help him or her make the transition to independent adult life. This plan must specifically include consideration of the young person's needs with regard to education and accommodation and set out the assistance that Tusla will provide to the young person to meet this identified need either directly or through accessing external services. This support can include direct financial support in the form of the aftercare allowance, which Tusla provides to young people in aftercare to enable them to pursue further education and training.
The majority of young people who leave the care of the State each year upon turning 18 do so with stable accommodation in place. In this regard, 45.2% of young people leaving care remained with their former foster carers, 25.1% were living independently, 10.5% were at home with their birth parents and 9.3% were in a residential care placement or supported lodgings. However, 9% of young people leaving care are at a more pronounced risk of entering unstable accommodation due to the complexity of their support needs. It is for this reason, on foot of a specific suggestion by Fr. Peter McVerry, that I ensured funding was made available to approved housing bodies under the capital assistance scheme, CAS, to provide accommodation to these especially vulnerable young people.
It was difficult to adapt the scheme to the needs of young people leaving care. However, I am happy to say that the first care leaver has recently taken occupancy of an apartment in north county Dublin under the scheme. An additional 40 units consisting of a mix of one and two-bed units are sale agreed and should be available for many other young people leaving care in the near future.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
These will become available in Dublin, Carlow, Kilkenny, Sligo, Tipperary, Limerick, Kildare and Westmeath. The security provided by a tenancy in CAS accommodation, combined with the aftercare supports identified by Tusla as part of the aftercare planning process, can help ensure that these young people have a safe base from which to begin their independent lives.
I am pleased to be able to confirm that I have secured €33 million for additional investment in Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in 2019, bringing the total budget available to Tusla in 2019 to €786 million. The additional resources secured for Tusla in 2019 will assist in meeting key priorities. The extra investment will allow Tusla to recruit a range of additional staff to respond to areas of identified risk and to meet increased demand for services, including aftercare supports.