Tusla – Child and Family Agency and EPIC (Empowering People in Care) today held a conference in Athlone to celebrate the achievements of children and young people in care in Ireland.
Tusla and EPIC have collaborated to create 15 children’s fora for children in foster care and residential care.
Fora are fun, interactive groups where children and young people in care come together to share their care experiences and contribute to the development of policy and practice by identifying positives and challenges within the care system.
Today’s event was led by children and young people in care who performed and presented work they have completed as part of the fora, including:
- A rap;
- A stop-animation video based on children’s experiences exploring cultural diversity and the importance of relationships with foster carers and social workers;
- A calendar of positive messages for social workers and foster carers;
- A dramatic piece about children’s experiences of living in care;
- A booklet for children in care moving to a new home;
- A leaflet for children in care about how to access their files
- Posters promoting the meaningful participation of young people with their social workers.
Fred McBride, Tusla Chief Executive, said “At Tusla, we are working alongside other organisations including EPIC to champion initiatives such as the fora which allow children and families share their experiences of care. The fora allow children in care space to talk to one another and us about their experiences of care and are a valuable part of policy development for Tusla.
I have made a commitment to listen to and act on what children, young people and families tell us about their experiences of our services and I am excited and invigorated by the energy and enthusiasm children and young people are bringing to initiatives all over the country. Today is an important day when we all take time to share our experiences with each other and celebrate the achievements of many children and young people in care who are making a difference to the lives of their peers.”
Terry Dignan, EPIC Chief Executive, said “Empowering children and young people in care to be actively involved in all decisions affecting them is central to the work of EPIC. The fora is a really good example of both EPIC and Tusla’s commitment to ensuring that the voices of children and young people inform the development of both policy and practice to ensure that all children and young people have the best care experience possible.
To achieve this it’s crucial that we listen to and understand what children and young people have to say about their experiences in care and have input into decisions that affect them, their lives and futures. The participation of children and young people in the fora is just one of a number of ways in which the voice of the child can be clearly heard and responded to. I’d like to pay tribute to the children, young people and professionals involved in the fora for their energy, enthusiasm and their commitment to achieving the positive outcomes presented through the showcase.”
Tusla – Child and Family Agency was established on 1st January 2014 and is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving well being and outcomes for children. It represents the most comprehensive reform of child protection, early intervention and family support services ever undertaken in Ireland. It is an ambitious move which brings together the former HSE Children and Family Services, Family Support Agency and National Educational Welfare Board as well as incorporating some psychological services and a range of services responding to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. There are over 4,000 staff working in the Agency, which has an operational budget of over €750 million.
EPIC is a national charity working with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have had experience of living in care. This includes those in residential care, foster care, hostel, high support and special care, as well as children and young people preparing to leave care and in aftercare. EPIC currently provides the only independent national 1:1 advocacy and support service to children and young people in care and aftercare and also works in the areas of research, policy development and child and youth engagement and participation. In carrying out its role EPIC works both directly with children and young people and also with other organisations that work with children and young people in care.