What is Aftercare?
Aftercare is the support and services provided to young people leaving care
Aftercare is the support available for young people who are leaving care. If you are living in care, when you turn 18, you will transition into aftercare instead. To receive aftercare support as a young person there are certain criteria you must meet. This article outlines who is entitled to aftercare and what supports aftercare provides.
What is the eligibility criteria to receive Aftercare?
To qualify for Aftercare you must be over the age of 16 and:
- Have been in the care of Tusla (the child and family agency) for no less than 12 months altogether in the past five years or
- Have been in the care of Tusla for no less than 12 months over a five year period before you turned 18
An eligible adult is someone who is aged between 18-20, who was in the care of Tusla for no less than 12 months over a five year period before they turned 18.
What is Aftercare?
Aftercare is the support and services for young people who were in care, provided after they reach 18 years of age. Aftercare services build on the work of foster carers, social workers and residential workers in preparing young people for adulthood.
Aftercare includes advice, guidance and practical support. Aftercare preparation should begin before the young person turns 18 and can begin as early as 16 years. If you are in care, you should start asking your social worker about preparation for aftercare from the age of 16. Beginning early means you can work out with your social worker what supports you may need once you have left care.
Aftercare services can support care leavers up until the age of 21, or up until the age of 23 if they are in full time education. You can apply for Aftercare at any stage up until you turn 21.
What is an assessment of need?
The assessment of need is an evaluation of what help the young person will need after leaving care. The following factors will all be considered:
- Financing and budgeting matters
- Training and employment
- Health and wellbeing
- Personal and social development
- Family support
The assessment will be used to decide if the young person will get allocated an aftercare worker. It will be completed within four months of referral to the aftercare service, once they have decided if the young person is eligible.
You can find the Tusla Allocation of an Aftercare Worker document here.
What is an Aftercare Plan?
An Aftercare Plan is a plan unique to each young person's needs and skills after they leave care. This Aftercare Plan will outline the types of supports available to them in Aftercare, and who will be able to support them.
The Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015 states that Tusla must:
- Prepare an Aftercare Plan for an eligible child before they reach 18
- Prepare Aftercare Plans, when asked for them, for an eligible adult aged 18, 19 or 20
- To review an Aftercare Plan if circumstances change for an adult or more needs are required
What is Pathways?
Pathways is an Aftercare guide for young people leaving care which has been created by people who have already left care and become independent. This guide is full of detailed sections which explain everything you might need to know about leaving care and finding a place of your own. It shares experiences and stories from both those who have left care and become independent, and professionals who have helped support young people during this time.
The sections in the guide are:
- Moving forward
- Money matters
- My rights and responsibilities
- My new home
- Education and training
- Staying safe
- Mind, body and soul
The guide is available to download as a PDF through this link. Pathways has been published jointly by EPIC, Focus Ireland and Empower Ireland, all of whom work directly with those in care.
In 2015, Tusla introduced a Standardised National Aftercare Allowance. This is a regular payment for young people who:
- Have been in care for 12 months on their 16th birthday or
- Have been in care for 12 months in a row before their 18th birthday
Supports for young people in Aftercare
If you would like any further information, or access to supports for care services, there are a number of places you can contact.
You can also look at our In Care section for more articles on other topics of care, and extra support services you can use.