In 2011, Barnardos and the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) came together to look at the issue of aftercare. Aftercare describes the range of services for children who are leaving the care system at 18 years of age. In Ireland, there is currently no statutory provision for mandatory aftercare resulting in ad hoc and patchy services across the country.
Failure to provide adequate aftercare services can exacerbate challenges facing young people leaving care, many of whom are particularly vulnerable. The lack of available supports to prepare and support this transitionary phase in their lives can lead to increased exposure to and experience of homelessness, addiction, criminality, prostitution, poverty, mental health difficulties and early parenthood.
Barnardos and PILA explored the legislative basis for aftercare in other jurisdictions, particularly the UK, to examine what options could work in the Irish context
As children journey through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood the majority experience love, support and stability that enables them to grow into independent, self assured adults. They often stay in the family home until they are around 25 years of age and have a strong network of support in their family and friends. However, for some of those who have been raised in the State care system their journey can be characterised by multiple placements leading to subsequent feelings of low self esteem, uncertainty and unpreparedness. They have to leave the care system once they turn 18 and are less likely to have a strong network of support. As a result, there is a necessity on the State, as the corporate parent, to prepare a young person for life after care, providing a range of supports including: financial, accommodation, training and education, advice and information supports as well as practical supports such as cooking skills, budgeting etc. Young people also need to have access to emotional support, mentoring, and a caring adult who will keep in touch with them.