Ireland - EPIC empowering people in care
Target group: Any person with care experience
Main goal of the project: Independent Advocacy, Policy and Participation
Short summary: EPIC is a national organisation that works with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have experienced of living in care. This includes those in residential care, foster care, relative care, hostel, high support and special care. EPIC also works with young people preparing to leave care and in aftercare, and with adults with care experience.
EPIC has been set up to: • Give a voice to young people with care experience • Ensure children in care know their rights • Give information, advice and support to young people with care experience • Advocate for children in care to be more involved in decisions being made about them
We do this by: • Working directly with children in care or young people and adults with care experience • Working with organisations that work with young people in care, to better advocate for the rights of children, young people and adults with care experience.
Participation/Engagement Youth Participant and Engagement is involving young people in responsible, challenging actions to create positive social change. This means involving young people in planning and decisions that affect themselves and others. Youth engagement occurs in EPIC in youth-adult partnerships that are structured so that both groups learn and teach each other.
EPIC Youth Councils: The Youth Council are made up of young people in care and with care experience. This way EPIC ensures that we hear directly the voices of young people in care or with care experience. Young people on this panel do this by: • 1. advising us directly on our work • 2. working with other relevant organizations • 3. running campaigns • 4. lobby to improve outcomes for children in care • 5. help us address issues that affect young people with care experience
One example of Best Practice: National Care Leavers Day- Aftercare Conference joint partnership between Care Leavers, EPIC & Care Leavers Ireland, 5th Year High lightening Key Issues and Challenges in Aftercare in Ireland First Aftercare Conferences in Ireland which promote the full participation of care leavers by presenting and being involved in ‘expert’ panels discussing their real-life experiences of Care and Aftercare. Medium: panels, films and drama Numbers: grew from 15 Care Leavers in 2013 to 75 in 2017
Children’s and Young Persons Fora: EPIC has in conjunction with Tusla (The Child and Family Agency) developed local youth fora. These fora facilitate young people in foster care between the ages of 12 and 17 to meet and share their experiences with local practitioners and policymakers. These fora are young person-led and voluntary. There is an opportunity for young people to feedback information to social work practitioners and management on various care issues.
Policy is a plan or course of action intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, legislation, strategies and other matters. This could be in relation to the work of the Government, in terms of legislative developments, or strategic plans or frameworks or it could be in relation to influencing the development of standards for inspections, for example. EPIC is committed to influencing change in policy, legislation and practice to ensure better outcomes for children in care, in aftercare or with care experience. Sometimes this is done in conjunction with other organisations.
Video Links: ‘My Life in Numbers’ describes the life of a care leavers through the medium of spoken numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POWlgyWtEG0
What do you think now?: a short film by The EPIC Youth Council which aim is to reduce the stigma young people with care experience face: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNKGJUYQGUA Put yourself in my shoes: a short film from Southern Youthboard Ireland on placement moves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rdHkXCzC7s