Housing and education supports for young people leaving care ‘must be a priority’ – Mitchell
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Denise Mitchell TD described as “worrying and unacceptable” the fact that 12% of those leaving state care are homeless and called for their prioritisation when it came to housing and education services.
The statistics were outlined in EPIC’s (Empowering People in Care) annual advocacy report.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Mitchell said:
“Young people leaving care face unique challenges in housing and education. I found it particularly worrying that the EPIC’s annual advocacy report outlined that 12% of those leaving the care system face homelessness.
“I hope Minister Zappone will work with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government on this, because I find it unacceptable. These young people are some of the most inspirational young people any of us could meet and they should be prioritised when it comes to housing and education.”
Deputy Mitchell also called for more resources to ensure care leavers have access to services in a timely manner:
“We have a very serious shortage of aftercare workers. In my area of north Dublin, 35 young people are waiting for an appointment with an aftercare worker while 14 are waiting on residential services. So we need to ensure that Tusla has the resources and staff to work with them in a timely manner.”
In her response, Minister Zappone stated that 40 units for use by those leaving state care have come on stream and will be available soon:
“We got access to funding through CAS to set up suitable accommodation and that it has taken time to establish that. However, I have a list of 40 units that have been identified and are sale agreed, and I am happy to share that list with Deputy Mitchell and other Deputies. Focus Housing Association is in the process of taking over a number of them in places like Dublin, Sligo, the mid-west and Limerick. The Peter McVerry Trust is also involved in other settings throughout the country where it will renovate, adjust and accommodate young people leaving care. Those are the additional supports that are coming on stream.”