In his response to our review of Maurice Fenton’s book Social Care and Child Welfare in Ireland Integrating Residential Care and After Care, John Molloy could also be referring to a matter which is also a critical concern on this side of the Irish Sea. He writes,
I read your review of Maurice Fenton’s book. The Aftercare scene here [in Ireland is getting worse not better! I am sure you are familiar with the ever increasing numbers of homeless families here in Ireland. Every month a new record is set. We have long ago surpassed previous record numbers of the 1980’s and 1950’s. There is a massive housing shortage and rents are rising constantly to the point where many cannot afford to pay. Young people leaving residential and foster care have no chance of getting private rented accommodation because landlords will not accept welfare cheques. Some residential centres are being log-jammed because they cannot move over 18’s on. Our kids are on the bottom pile.
Recently we admitted a boy a few months past his 17th birthdate. We have since been told that he will not be eligible for aftercare when he turns 18. When we challenged this we were told of a regulation that states the young person must spend a full year in residential or foster care to be entitled to aftercare. When asked to explain the thinking behind this we were told that if everyone was entitled to aftercare then there would be a rush of young people wanting to be in care!
That comment apparently came from a Government Minister.
In the meantime we opened an aftercare or “transition Housing” project. This is an unsupervised home where 4 over-eighteen year olds live in what is called a “a congregational setting”. The emphasis I am placing is that the model is geared to emphasise peer-support to get around problems of loneliness, support networking etc. Strangely enough I am finding that the young people are resistant to this in some ways leading me to think that they would prefer to live in a more regimented Children’s Home type model. There is no winning!