Submission on the Child and Family Agency Bill 2013

Barnardos. (2013). Submission on the Child and Family Agency Bill 2013.
Barnardos welcomes the publication of the Child and Family Agency Bill. This long awaited Bill will pave the way for the biggest restructuring of children’s services ever in the State. Barnardos strongly welcomes the Bill and the removal of the child and family services from the HSE into a dedicated agency. The numerous child protection reports in recent years have constantly highlighted inconsistencies and fragmentation of services. The new agency which is incorporating the work of the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board aims to create a more child centred system where the services are responding to the child’s needs when they arise rather than the child and family having to adapt into the system. However, Barnardos believes that certain aspects of the Bill must be strengthened to ensure the legal parameters are the best they can be from the outset as it will shape the ongoing work of the Agency. Now is the opportunity to ensure that key lessons from the past are learnt, namely that children are heard in all matters affecting their lives, that decisions are made in their best interests and that services work together to support families by engaging in preventative work as well as responding to child protection crises. Once enshrined in law, the ethos and functions of the Agency will be defined and it is harder to change them at a later date. In this regard, Barnardos would like to raise a number of concerns / issues which should be addressed before the Bill is passed.