Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of aged out foreign national young persons currently in the care of the State, in tabular form; each young person’s status vis-a-vis entitlement to remain in the State; their nationality; the number of years each young person has been here; the number of years each young person has been in the care of the State; if deportation orders have been made against each young person; if they entered the State with a parent or guardian; if they are currently in receipt of the same level of care as other Irish citizen young people who had been in the care of the State and are now over 18 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The immediate and ongoing needs of separated children seeking asylum (SCSA) as well as their application for refugee status are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in accordance with the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) and the Child Care Act, 1991. Where children are identified by An Garda Síochána, at the point of entry, the circumstances are investigated and if there are any concerns about the welfare of the child, they are placed into the care of the HSE. On reaching 18 years of age, they are no longer under the care of the state under the Child Care Act, 1991 and are referred by the HSE to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) for transfer to adult accommodation and service provision in the direct provision system. However, the HSE is committed to ensuring continuity of care for all young people who are undertaking their leaving certificate and therefore interprets “18th birthday” as the end of a school year/leaving certificate year following their 18th birthday. The HSE and the RIA have an agreed policy in relation to the accommodation of separated children seeking asylum who reach the age of 18 years and there is regular liaison between the two agencies.
I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy regarding the number of young asylum seekers who are not in the care of the state, but are being supported by the HSE and the number of years each young person has been in the care of the state. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence has statutory responsibility for the other information requested about asylum seekers.