New legal advice clinic offers support to children and young people in care
A new free legal advice clinic for children and young people in the care system has been launched by EPIC and Community Law & Mediation.
The collaborative initiative seeks to empower children and young people in care, or leaving care, to vindicate their legal rights in relation to their health, housing, education and other entitlements.
The clinic comes at a time when Covid-19 has presented significant challenges for children and young people in care, many of whom were already experiencing disadvantage. Covid-19 has impacted many aspects of their lives, including family access arrangements, education, mental health and accommodation options for young people leaving care.
The free legal advice clinics are funded by the Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI) and RTÉ Does Comic Relief and will run on a monthly basis for an initial period of 12 months.
Rose Wall, CEO of CLM, said: “We are delighted to partner with EPIC to provide these new and much-needed legal advice clinics. Children and young people in the care system are some of the most disadvantaged in Ireland and they have faced significant challenges in recent months due to Covid-19.
“The legal expertise of our solicitors, combined with the advocacy expertise provided by EPIC, will help ensure that they have every opportunity to have their voice heard in relation to decisions that affect them.”
Marissa Ryan, CEO of EPIC, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for children and young people across Ireland, and particularly those in care or leaving care. As services across Ireland stall and are overwhelmed as a result of the coronavirus, EPIC and CLM are determined to provide a service to ensure care-experienced children and young people have access to justice, know their rights and have these rights upheld.
“We are delighted that the Community Foundation for Ireland and RTE Comic Relief are assisting us to ensure children and youth in care are not marginalised from vital supports.”
Denise Charlton, CEO of CFI, said: “The voices of children and young people must be heard, even in a pandemic. They must not be brushed aside, ignored or silenced when important decisions are being taken about their lives which could impact future health, wellbeing and opportunities.
“EPIC and CLM are to be congratulated for recognising this need and stepping up to the plate in protecting the rights of vulnerable teenagers at a key moment in their young lives. The Community Foundation for Ireland, its private donors and RTÉ Does Comic Relief are proud to support such important frontline work.”