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What are the rights of young people in care?

Read all about the laws that specify the rights of young people in care

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Children and young people in care are entitled to the same rights as all other children and young people. There are various acts and laws that specify what these rights are. SpunOut details these below.

The Irish Constitution states that:

If parents cannot provide for their children for physical or moral reasons, the State must "endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights [rights that can't be taken away] of the child."

In 2012 the Irish public voted yes to the Children's Rights Referendum and agreed to change this wording slightly. The Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Act 2012 was signed into law 28th April, 2015. 

The Child Care Act 1991 states that:

  • Every homeless child has a right to be sheltered.
  • No child can be taken into care if their parents can prove they can provide adequate physical, emotional and mental care.
  • The Health Board has a duty of care to look after a child/young person until the person is 18. Up until a person reaches 21, the Board may assist him/her until he/she is 21 years of age. This assistance can take the form of helping with the cost of education, accommodation, training or securing employment.
  • In any court procedure, the welfare of the child/young person is the most important thing and the child/young person's wishes should be taken into consideration when deciding where they will be placed.
  • The Health Board MUST facilitate reasonable access to the child by his parents or other carers/relatives.

The National Standards for Children's Residential Centres states that:

  • A young person has the right to meet with an external authorised person whose duty it is to enquire about the young person's happiness and welfare.
  • Young people's views should be sought when decisions that affect their daily life and future are made.
  • There is a clear complaints procedure that young people can follow.
  • Young people must have access to information about their rights. They also must be told verbally and in writing about their right to access their personal records.
  • Young people in care have the right to enjoy the same opportunities as their peers.
  • Young people in care must be facilitated in the practice of their religion.
  • Young people in care must have access to facilities to make and receive phone calls.
  • Young people in care must be consulted regarding health care and any treatment plans.
  • Young people in care have a right to a room to themselves.
  • Young people in care have the right to protection from abuse by their peers.
  • Young people must be invited to attend all care review meetings concerning them.
  • If contact is not allowed with their relatives or guardians, young people have the right to a detailed explanation as to the reasons why.
  • Siblings should be placed together. If this is impossible, they must have high levels of contact.
  • Young people in care should have early access to specialist health and educational services such as counsellors and medical specialists.
  • Young people have the right to celebrate festive occasions and their birthdays in a special way, similar to their peers.
  • Vegetarians, coeliacs or those with special needs should be offered a variety of suitable and nutritious food.
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Published Feb­ru­ary 11th2013
Last updated March 20th2018
Tags human rights family in care
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