POSTCARD FROM LEON FULCHER
Hello everyone! And the top of the morning to all of you from Dublin where I was invited to help launch the European Association for Research on Residential Care Report on Safe Care in Ireland. My visit coincided with the European MTV Awards, as well as the European Cup qualifying match between Ireland and Turkey. So the place was humming! And what a wonderful place it is too! From having been one of the poorest countries in Europe, Ireland is now enjoying a boom economy and everyone is feeling a little more optimistic. The place that brought the world Riverdance (as well as Murphy's Law that says "if something can go wrong, it will!") is definitely one to add to your list of must visit countries.
Until 1991, the main legislation governing the care of children and young people was the Children's Act of 1908. The 1991 Child Care Act placed a statutory duty on Health Boards to promote and protect the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. It placed legal obligations on Health Boards to support young people in their care and required them to prepare young people to leave care. The 1991 Act emphasized the right of children to participate in the planning concerning their futures. The Child Care (Placement of Children in Residential Care) Regulations (1995) cover the placement of children in care. These require each Health Board to have appropriate and suitable care practices and operational policies in place for each residential centre under their jurisdiction.
The new millennium will see revised child and youth care legislation in Ireland. This will have a significant impact on the way children, young people and their families are cared for by the state when there is need for care, protection or control of delinquent behaviour. It was said during my visit that New Zealander Mike Doolan, an architect of that country's Children, Young People and Their Families Act (1989), influenced the new Irish legislation significantly by way of emphasizing greater family participation in decision-making about the care and control of children.
An Irish Pub
It was fun engaging with Degree and Diploma in Residential Child Care students at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) during my visit. Some of the experienced veterans from the field taught me a great deal about the state of residential child care in Ireland. At the same time, the new entrants — some say rookies — taught me a great deal about enthusiasm, active listening and pro-active learning. I also learned about the cultural significance of the Irish Pub, that meeting place in every neighborhood where intense dialogue and discussion continued well into the night. Thanks to Gay Graham and all the staff at the DIT and Trinity House for making my visit such a memorable one. I wish them well for an abundant Irish New Year!
From the Old World to the New, next month our Postcard will come from Saskatchewan in the prairies of Canada!