Tuesday 21 November 2017

Child was moved 42 times in state care

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

A CHILD who was in state care had no fewer than 42 different homes before moving on to live independently, a report revealed yesterday.

The report examined the fate of a group of teenagers in north Dublin after they left care at 18 years of age.

While most had one or two placements in care, 15pc had five or more and one had been in 42 different homes.

The report, which was compiled by the Irish Association of Young People in Care, found that if those in state care enjoyed a degree of stability, they were better able to cope with living independently as young adults.

"We found it is very important for these young people to have a stable placement before they are 18 years and also in the period afterwards, otherwise the risk of homelessness is increased,"said Jennifer Gargan, director of the association.

The study looked at 65 young people aged 17-18, half of whom had been in foster homes before they left care. Another 18 had been in residential care and the remainder had been in supported lodgings or other placements.

Twenty-two had spent one to five years in care, seven had been there for six to 10 years and 25 had been there for a decade.

The report revealed that:

•Over time, 26 of the 65 were reliant on social welfare as their main source of income

•13 had experienced homelessless after leaving

•26 had mental health needs with counselling as the most common type of health service they needed but were not receiving

•24 had inadequate independent living skills, particularly when it came to rent and budgeting.

The report said the highest educational qualification they had was the Leaving Cert or equivalent but 25 had left school early and six had no qualifications.

Homelessness

Around 56 had at least one significant adult they could turn to for support.

Just over half had contact with at least one birth family member on a weekly basis but this fell to 46pc over time.

Launching the report, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said she was determined to develop the national aftercare service for young people who leave care.

She added: "I am happy to report that 10 additional aftercare worker posts are now in the process of being filled."

Irish Independent

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