Minister Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State at the Department of Health and at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, had a fruitful meeting with EPIC (Empowering People in Care) at Leinster house to discuss the findings of their recent report “Headphones, Odd Shoes and A Second Chance at Life”, which is a study on children in care and care-leavers with disabilities.
EPIC Youth Council members Alan Fay and Andrea Reilly briefed the Minister on the main findings and shared their own lived experiences.
EPIC is an organisation that empowers and advocates for care-experienced children and young people, ensuring their rights are upheld, their voices shape policies and practices, and fostering a society that is attentive to their needs through a combination of advocacy, research and policy work, and engagement and participation initiatives.
The report, written by Deborah Erwin, is based on a study conducted in 2021.
The report aims to develop an understanding of the experiences of children and young people with disabilities in the care system in line with their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), enable their direct participation in awareness raising, provide evidence to support policy makers and practitioners in implementing the UNCRPD, and explore the knowledge of care-experienced children and young people regarding the UNCRPD.
The main takeaway from the report is that children and young people with disabilities in the care system face challenges due to limited awareness, stigma, and barriers to accessing appropriate supports.
The study emphasises the need for data disaggregation, flexibility in care systems, increased awareness and training, rights-based approaches, and additional resources to improve their experiences and ensure their rights are upheld.
Read the whole report here.
The Minister expressed her dedication to addressing the recommendations outlined in the report and expressed her intention to continue collaborating with EPIC prior to the summer recess of the Dáil.