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Over half of 16 and 17-year-olds in State care have no aftercare worker

An aftercare worker is assigned to teenagers in State care as they approach the age of 18.

Image: Shutterstock/Sabphoto

NEARLY 60% OF 15 or 16-year-olds in state care have no assigned aftercare worker, new figures reveal.

Figures released by the Children’s Department show that of the 1,055 teenagers in state care at the end of 2016, 432 (41%) had been allocated an aftercare worker.

An aftercare worker is assigned to teenagers under the care of the State as they approach the age of 18, at which point they are released.

The figures were released by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone in response to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil’s Anne Rabbitte.

Rabbitte – who is the party’s spokesperson on children and youth affairs – expressed concern at the figure, and called for a statement from Zappone on the matter.

“The relationship between the aftercare worker and the teenager is extremely important and it is imperative that they feel comfortable discussing their plans with their aftercare worker,” said Rabbitte.

This relationship needs to be built up over time. You can’t simply parachute somebody in at the last minute and expect young people to share their worries and fears with them.

In her response to the PQ, Zappone said she was conscious that the “transition to independent adulthood can be challenging for many young people”.

This is particularly true for children and young people in care. Planning for leaving care needs to begin in the years prior to leaving care and continue as part of the care planning process.

Zappone said that social workers work with children to help them through this process.

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Zappone said previously that there were 1,841 young people aged 18 to 22 years in receipt of aftercare supports from Tusla at the end of the third quarter in 2016.

About 75% of 17-year-old in care were in foster placements while about a further 20% were reported to be placed in residential settings.

Read: ‘In a utopian society there would be free GP care. In reality, we can’t do that’

Read: Suicide, overdose, sudden infant death: Children who died while in contact with social services

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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