Saturday 24 September 2016

Tusla to review controversial 'age gap' guidelines - Zappone

Published 22/06/2016 | 17:01

Katherine Zappone Photo: Tom Burke
Katherine Zappone Photo: Tom Burke

CHILD and family agency Tusla is reviewing its controversial ‘age gap’ guidelines, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone told the Dail.

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The agency’s official recommendations state that foster carers should not be 40 years older than foster children hit the headlines in May when a couple in their 60s had a grandchild removed from their care.

Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath, who campaigned on behalf of the family, raised the matter in the Dail with Ms Zappone today.

Mr McGrath said, in the context of the “public outcry” after a nine year old was taken from his grandparents, the guidelines should be examined.

“Many people are stunned and appalled to learn this rule around a 40 year age gap was in existence and could be applied or blamed as a reason,” he said.

Mr McGrath, who noted he was 58 and had a 14 year old daughter, said the age guideline “terrified” foster parents around the country.

Ms Zappone said the current Tulsa guidelines on age gaps can be “disregarded” when decisions are being taken on foster care arrangements.

“It is not the case in relation to all grandparents that they are not good enough to have children placed in their care,” she said.

Ms Zappone said she is grateful for the generosity of grandparents who care for children and welcomed the Tusla review.

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