Press Release

Hanafin re-affirms commitment to combat youth homelessness

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., has today (Tuesday, October 3, 2000) outlined the Government’s commitment to tackling youth homelessness, particularly among children leaving care.

“It is essential that while children are in the care of the State, they receive the necessary supports so as they do not end up getting involved in prostitution, drugs, or being in contact with the law. This summer, I announced a major new initiative to prevent youth homelessness among all children leaving care. This involved the establishment of a pilot project based in the Mid-Western Health Board area. One million pounds will be allocated to this project over a three-year period to develop a care model and associated guidelines material for child care personnel,” said Minister Hanafin.

Minister Hanafin was speaking today at the Focus Ireland housing development in George’s Hill, Dublin, where she launched a new report, ‘Left Out On Their Own – Young People Leaving Care in Ireland’. This report details research undertaken by Focus Ireland.

Each year, 2,000 children are admitted to care in the State and, at any one time, almost 4,000 children are cared for in foster or residential care. Minister Hanafin has pointed out that throughout the world, regrettably, 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.

“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. Initiatives such that the recently-launched project in the Mid-Western Health Board project will ensure that all children are helped to begin a journey of independent living, to re-integrate back into society and into the family setting upon leaving the care of the State,” said Minister Hanafin.

“I hope to extend this initiative to all health board areas. It is particularly important in that it seeks to involve the parents and extended family members in the ongoing lives of children in care,” explained the Minister.

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

Minister Hanafin concluded by saying that the longitudinal study, launched today, will assist the health boards in formulating responses to the needs of children in care.