Press Release

Hanafin announces £1 million for homeless initiative

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., has today (Friday, 7 July 2000) announced a major new initiative to prevent youth homelessness among children leaving care.

“Today, I am announcing a pilot project to be based in the Mid-Western Health Board area. I am allocating £1 million over a three year period to develop a care model and associated guidelines material for child care personnel” said Minister Hanafin.

Minister Hanafin said that 2,000 children are admitted to care in the State each year and, at any one time, almost 4,000 children are cared for in foster or residential care. She pointed out that, unfortunately, there is evidence throughout the world that children who are taken into care have experienced considerable difficulties in their lives and subsequently have difficulties associated with long stays within the care system.

This issue had been highlighted in Out on Their Own, a report published by Focus Ireland in February, which had pointed to the need for systematic planning in this important area.

“It is a recognised fact that quite a number of homeless young people have left care and have found themselves with little or no support. It is essential that while children are in the care of the State, they receive the necessary supports and that they don’t end up in prostitution, dealing in drugs, or in contact with the law. This project will ensure that all children are helped to re-integrate back into society and into the family setting upon leaving the care of the State,” said Minister Hanafin.

“Phase One of the new initiative will take place in Co Clare, and will subsequently be extended throughout the Mid-Western region. Following evaluation, the developed model will be extended to all Board areas,” explained the Minister.

The project announced today will also link in directly with the National Strategy on Youth Homelessness, which will be published later this year.

“The findings of this project will have major implications for the way in which Health Boards respond to the needs of children in care, who are among the most vulnerable children in out society,”Minister Hanafin added.

“An important feature of this approach is that it will seek to involve the parents and extended family members in the ongoing lives of children in care,” concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.