Sunday 22 October 2017

Lengthy delay in setting up children's agency slated by advocacy group

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

INADEQUACIES in the long-delayed legislation to set up the Child and Family Agency – which will take child welfare and protection away from the HSE – has been criticised by advocacy groups.

The bill for the agency, which was supposed to have been established in January, was eventually published yesterday, with no indication of when it will be enacted.

Maria Corbett, head of the Children's Rights Alliance, said it did not go far enough.

The bill requires that the agency will "have regard to the best interests of the child in all matters".

However, Ms Corbett said: "While this provision is welcome, we believe it should go further so that the best interests be the paramount consideration in all aspects of the agency's work.

"On a first reading, we welcome many aspects of the bill, but we are concerned that it has not gone far enough to firmly ground the agency in children's rights."

She added that under the bill, the agency must consult with children when planning and reviewing its services.

"Where its functions relate to two specific pieces of legislation, it is required to hear and take into account the views of the child," she said.

She added that this was not adequate, and the agency must listen to children on all matters that might affect their lives.

The establishment of the agency is one of the most ambitious public sector reforms, involving more than 4,000 staff and a budget of €500m.

Irish Independent

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