Bid To Cut Children In Care By 20%

Services for children in care in Northern Ireland are to be overhauled in a bid to ensure they enjoy the same quality of life as those living with parents, the Government announced today. Health Minister Paul Goggins said he has set the task of reducing the number of children and young people in care by 20%.

And he also aims to double the proportion of care leavers who are in education, employment or training at age 19.

The minister also highlighted unnecessary bureaucracy in the present system of foster care, “which sees foster parents having to ask social workers for permission before a child in their care can visit a friend, take part in routine after school activities or, on some occasions, even have a haircut.”

The Care Matters strategy aims to ensure that young people within the social services enjoy the same quality of life as those living with natural parents.

“Children who are unable to live with their families are some of the most vulnerable in society. They are entitled to a normal life like everyone else, yet children in care often face uncertain futures,” he said.

“Care Matters seeks to remove these uncertainties, build a bridge to the future and 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.”

Mr Goggins said his plans also include:

  • introducing family therapeutic workers to work with families in need
  • reconfiguring family support services so that they can more effectively assess and support children at risk of coming into care
  • working more closely with extended families