Written answers

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Foster Care Supports

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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40. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to ensure that foster carers can have immediate access to medical and psychological supports required by the children in their care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31181/17]

Photo of Katherine ZapponeKatherine Zappone (Dublin South West, Independent)
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I think that it is worth commenting that 92% of the children in care under the Child Care Act 1991 are placed with foster families living in the community. This figure is amongst the highest internationally and something about which we should be proud. I do not take this for granted and am aware that Tusla services must constantly be alert to the need for improvements, especially as children with increasing complexity are placed with foster carers. When a child is received into care there is a full assessment of their identified needs and this includes a medical assessment. A medical card is provided in respect of the child in foster care.

Following this assessment, the child's statutory care plan should identify outstanding medical, emotional, psychological and educational supports required. The Deputy will be aware that the HSE is responsible for the provision of medical and psychology services and children are referred to these services as needed. Where an identified need cannot be met by the HSE, or the waiting time is too long, Tusla have sourced the necessary service through the private sector.

Children who are received into care at an older age, or where they have experienced significant trauma or attachment difficulties have particular needs. It is important to note that the greatest need of all children in foster care is for stability in a loving nurturing family environment. It is the role of Tusla, and other State services, to ensure that foster carers are supported in providing that care.

I am alert to the National Review Panel whose reports have drawn attention to the heroic work of foster carers who care for babies with serious life limiting disabilities, and the need, in these and other situations for appropriate and timely supports. Foster carers also provide ongoing care for children with serious disabilities, and need all the supports available.

Following recent concerns regarding children in care and leaving care with life long serious disabilities, I engaged with both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Disability. The purpose was to make sure we work in a better way across Departments and on the ground, to provide safe and seamless services for these children/young adults and their carers. A detailed protocol was agreed between the HSE and Tusla with respect to their mutual responsibilities in the provision of care and disability services, particularly where a young adult will need ongoing intensive support.

I intend to closely monitor this situation and will work closely with the relevant Departments to keep the medical and psychological needs of children in care to the fore.


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