Call for clear definition of aftercare plans

Thursday 17 July 2014 12.39
Legislative reform will see the Child Care Act 1991 being amended
Legislative reform will see the Child Care Act 1991 being amended

A clearer definition of what an aftercare plan is and what it should include should be provided in the Aftercare Bill 2014 when it is published by the Government, according to a new report from the Committee on Health and Children.

It says the eligibility criteria could be broadened to include young people up to the age of 25.

In February, the Cabinet approved the Heads of the Aftercare Bill which will place a statutory duty on the Child and Family Agency, Tusla to prepare an aftercare plan for young people leaving care at the age of 18.

The Heads of Bill were referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children and it gave its response today making 16 recommendations.

The legislative reform would see the Child Care Act 1991 being amended to provide for a statutory basis for the preparation of an aftercare plan.

The main age range for the aftercare plan would be 18 years up to 21 years but it could be extended until the completion of a course of education up to the age of 23.

At the end of last year, there were around 1,100 children in receipt of aftercare services.

Aftercare is aimed at assisting young people to make the transition to independent living and would cover secure suitable accommodation, further education, employment or training.

The plan would also provide advice and financial support and mean advocating on behalf of young people to link them to targeted adult services.

The proposed legislation is due to provide clarity around eligibility and the arrangements for preparing, reviewing and updating the aftercare plan.