Young people leaving care

Introduction

Tusla – Child and Family Agency has a statutory obligation to produce an aftercare plan and provide aftercare services to young people leaving care.

The aim of aftercare services is to provide a range and continuum of services to help young people who are preparing to leave care and those who have left care to achieve a successful transition from their placement to independent adult life in the community.

What are aftercare services?

Young people leaving care at the age of 18 are entitled to aftercare services based on their assessed needs. Aftercare services include:

  • In-person support (aftercare worker or social worker, drop-in service clinic)
  • An individual plan (an assessment of need, an aftercare plan)
  • Financial assistance (aftercare allowance, aftercare grant)

These services are described in more detail below.

Who can access aftercare services?

Children and young people who turn 18 years old in care or who have been in alternative care services for 12 months between their 13th and 18th birthday are considered eligible for an aftercare service. The core eligible age range for aftercare is 18 years up to 21 years. This can be extended until the completion of a course of education in which a young person is engaged, up to the age of 23 years.

A referral is needed to access aftercare services. It can be a self-referral at any of the drop-in service clinics or a social worker, social work department, agency or family/foster family member can also do it. There are no eligibility or age restrictions for attending a drop-in service.

Aftercare is a voluntary service and it requires the willing engagement of the young people. It is optional, but if the young person chooses not to engage they can change their mind up until they turn 21 years old.

What is an assessment of need?

An assessment of need helps the aftercare service to work out the level of support the young person will need in the process of leaving care and becoming independent. The assessment of need looks at:

  • Education
  • Financing and budgeting matters
  • Training and employment
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Personal and social development
  • Accommodation
  • Family support

What is an aftercare plan?

Formal preparation for leaving care begins at the age of 16 years. An aftercare plan is a personalised plan of action based on the assessment of need completed 6 months before the young person turns 18. It is prepared by an aftercare worker and the young person in conjunction with their social worker and other key people in their lives. The plan can be reviewed if circumstances change, or if the young person requests a review.

Tusla’s Aftercare Drop-in service clinics (pdf) offer help, advice, support and can signpost other supports and services. Any person that has been in care in the past can use this free service and there is no age limit.

The purpose of the aftercare drop-in services include:

  • A point of contact for young people and young adults who have been in the care of Tusla
  • A point of contact for foster carers and residential staff
  • A point of contact for young people who have disengaged in aftercare services to re-engage
  • An opportunity for a young person between 18-21 years to review their aftercare plan
  • Support for accessing documentation or making applications
  • To provide advocacy in accessing services
  • To provide support for young people who require a referral to other services, signposting, and guidance and advice on entitlements

Financial assistance for young people leaving care

Tusla provides financial support to eligible young people leaving care (pdf) who are doing a qualifying educational course or training programme. An aftercare allowance of €300 per week is available to care leavers up to the age of 23.

Care leavers may also be entitled to other financial supports in respect of education which include the SUSI Grant (which is payable at the higher rate for care leavers) and the Bursary Scheme. Anyone not in education and not working is eligible for full Jobseeker’s Allowance, if they were in the care of Tusla for 12 months prior to their 18th birthday.

Some young people leaving care are also entitled to an aftercare grant. This is a once-off payment paid to help with the first month of rent and a deposit. The grant can also include start-up costs associated with initial moving home expenses. To be eligible you must be a young person who turned 18 years in the care of the Tusla having spent a period of 12 months in the care of Tusla between the ages of 17-18 years. The application to get this grant is made through the aftercare worker or a drop-in clinic service (pdf).

Further information

EPIC

EPIC and Focus Ireland published Pathways (pdf), an aftercare guide for young people who are preparing to leave care.

EPIC (Empowering People in Care) is an independent organisation that works with and for children and young people who are currently living in care, people in aftercare and with adults up to the 27 years old with care experience. EPIC offers a advocacy service to children and young people in state care, and young people aged 18-26 with care experience.

Child Care Law Reporting Project

The Child Care Law Reporting Project was launched in 2013. It was established to provide information to the public on child care proceedings in the courts; to conduct research; to recommend how to deal with issues in the child care system identified by the research; and to promote confidence in the child care system.

Tusla

Tusla has published its Strategic Plan for Aftercare Services for Young People and Young Adults 2023-2026 (pdf)

Tusla - An Ghníomhaireacht um Leanaí agus an Teaghlach

Brunel Tógála
Heuston Ráithe Theas
Baile Átha Cliath 8
Éire

Teil: (01) 771 8500
Láithreán Gréasáin: https://www.tusla.ie/
R-phost: info@tusla.ie
Dáta an Leasaithe Deireanaigh: 31 Bealtaine 2024