I move amendment No. 14:
In page 67, before section 22, to insert the following new section:
22.—Section 45 (as amended by the Act of 2004) of the Principal Act is amended by substituting the following section for section 45—
"45.—(1) (a) Where a child leaves the care of the Health Service Executive, the Executive shall, in accordance with subsection (2), assist him or her for so long as the Executive is satisfied as to his or her need for assistance and, subject to paragraph (b), he or she has not attained the age of 21 years.
(b) Where that person attains the age of 21 years, the Executive shall continue to provide such assistance until the completion of the course of education in which he or she is engaged.
(2) (a) The Health Service Executive shall assist a person under this section in one or more of the following ways—
(i) by causing him or her to be visited or assisted;
(ii) by arranging for the completion of his or her education and by contributing towards his or her maintenance while he or she is completing his or her education;
(iii) by placing him or her in a suitable trade, calling or business and paying such fee or sum as may be requisite for that purpose;
(iv) by providing a residential aftercare programme for him or her;
(v) by co-operating with housing authorities in planning accommodation for children leaving care on reaching the age of 18 years;
(vi) by arranging for any existing or emerging health care needs to be addressed by appropriate qualified persons.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the Minister shall prescribe the manner in which aftercare may be provided.
(3) In providing assistance under this section, the Executive shall comply with any general directions given by the Minister.
(4) For the purposes of this section, the reference in subsection (1)(a) to the care of the Health Service Executive includes special care provided under Part IVA (as amended by the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2010).”.”.
This is a new section but it is not a new section in many ways. The original section provided that the HSE may provide assistance, may assist in education. The original section provides for where children leave the care of the HSE. We propose that where a child leaves the care of the Health Service Executive, the executive shall, in accordance with subsection (2) assist him or her for so long as the executive is satisfied as to his or her need for assistance and subject to paragraph (b), he or she has not attained the age of 21 years. This new section is to ensure after-care. As public representatives we have all met young men and women who have been in care for a considerable time. The issue is not about foster care or institutional care at that stage in their lives, it is that they are out in the world with no one to guide or help them.
The local authority in Cork has provided the Foyer scheme, which teaches people between the ages of 18 and 22 who are in danger of becoming homeless the things most of us learn in our own homes. We are all familiar with statistics relating to suicide, or to kids coming out of care and getting into trouble. We all know the statistics. The numbers are not enormous but they represent a high percentage of those who come out of care. We need to ensure the HSE continues to support and care for children who come out of the care of the State, for example, by setting them up and guiding them along the path to make a life for themselves. Our amendment refers to the need to deal with the local authority on behalf of such people, with them and for them. They may need assistance with education, jobs, trades and suitable accommodation. All of the stuff we assume is being looked after is not being looked after. The Minister of State used the term "may". While these things "may" be provided, in most instances they are not. We are saying they "shall" be provided.