New Plans For Children’s Services

A major overhaul of services for children in care in Northern Ireland has been unveiled. The proposals include reducing those in care by 20% and doubling those in education, employment or training.

Another goal is more power for foster carers to take day-to-day decisions and the child or young person having a greater say in what happens to them.

Health Minister Paul Goggins said children and young people in care were “entitled to a normal life”. Last year, almost 2,500 children spent time in care in Northern Ireland

Mr Goggins said the scheme aimed to “ensure that children in care can look ahead with the same confidence as other children do in terms of their health, their education and employment opportunities”.

He said there were plans to introduce family therapeutic workers to work with families in need; reconfigure family support services so that they can more effectively assess and support children at risk of coming into care and work more closely with extended families.

Mr Goggins added: “We also need to re-assure young people that when they reach 18, they will continue to have a roof over their head and enjoy the warmth and support of a family around them.

“We also need to recognise that some young people aged 16 or 17 do not want to live within traditional residential children’s homes or with foster carers. They need a different option. “

The minister outlined new targets he has set for young people in care.

“The proposals I have announced will reduce the number of children and young people who come into care, and enhance the life-chances of those who do,” he said.