"Foster Care Should Extend Beyond the Age of Eighteen" - Tóibín
The Aontú leader has described as 'scandalous' the fact that some people who are leaving state care are ending up in homeless services.
He was speaking after Tusla confirmed to him, in a letter, that there are currently 200 young adults (aged 18-22 years) living in arrangements reported under the heading ‘Other’, this includes a range of accommodation types, e.g., disability centres, prison, with friends/ partners /relatives, transitional housing, homeless / homeless accommodation, direct provision centres, unknown / not specified.
Deputy Tóibín said: "We've heard presentations in Leinster House from people who suffered from addictions and others who ended up homeless after they left state care. We know from Eurostat that nearly 80% of people aged between sixteen and twenty-nine are still living at home with their parents in this country. In every city, town and village across our island we see young adults who are living with their parents due to the weight of the cost of living crisis and spiralling rents".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "Eighteen is a very young age for people to leave home - and many who do often report feeling anxious or lost in the world and like to have their family base to return to at weekends, or they like to call their parents when they need financial assistance. Most students or young adults in the country return to their family homes for Christmas. Yet for an eighteen-year-old in foster care in this State their placements end when they celebrate their 18th birthday. There is no doubt that Tusla's aftercare supports need to be extended further, but Aontú would also propose that we extend foster care from the age of eighteen to the age of twenty-one".
"People in care sometimes have more trauma or more vulnerabilities than others, and this should be reflected by the system - with extra supports provided, specific to their needs. College or university is not for everyone, and we cannot persist with a system which rewards those who chose overtly academic routes, and disadvantages those who chose other perfectly acceptable career or life paths. This is happening under the current set-up where people aged 21 to 23 are not entitled to aftercare services unless they are in further or higher education. Aontú has also been made aware of a scandalous situation where children who came to this country as unaccompanied minors and were placed in foster care have been moved to direct provision centres upon reaching their 18th birthday. We need to do better by children and young people in the care of the State - they are our responsibility and the upcoming budget must reflect this", concluded Tóibín.