A staff member for children and youth with special needs (CYSN) can help by offering advice on the opportunities for reception and support available. For more information, visit your local office for child and family services. Ask a CYSN employee to speak. Assistance service agreements can last up to six months. Depending on the situation, you may be able to renew a support service contract. If you are in crisis and cannot keep your child at home for a short period of time, you can enter into a voluntary foster care agreement to put your child in care. For example, if you are single and need to go to the hospital or treatment program, you may require that your child need care until you return. You can often conclude these agreements through collaborative planning and decision-making. Voluntary care plays an important role in Ireland`s child protection system, but it is regulated fairly flexibly by international standards. Parents who enter into voluntary care agreements are often challenged by mental health, cognitive impairment or substance abuse issues, which may raise questions about the extent to which they fully understand the nuanced legal agreement they sign. These concerns are reinforced by the fact that our study found that parents almost never receive independent legal advice before signing (unlike parents in child care proceedings, who almost always have legal representation). Voluntary care agreements have several advantages over court proceedings.
They are less contradictory; this reduces parental stress and facilitates a more collaborative relationship between parents and social workers, benefiting all parties (including children). Parents retain more decision-making power in voluntary care agreements than on court orders, allowing them to remain more involved in their children`s lives and increasing the chances of eventual reunification. Voluntary care agreements can also avoid significant costs associated with court proceedings if parents are willing to accept the foster care service. In addition to the issues raised by HIQA, we expressed concern that voluntary care agreements may be terminated at any time by parents without the need for notice. This can result in an element of instability and potential risk to children. In practice, Tusla can apply to the court for a custody warrant if he does not consider himself safe for the child to go home; in some cases, it may take some time. The first agreement can last up to six months and can be extended by 12 months. The EFP agreement defines the best way to meet your child`s needs, the services and supports your child may need, and the length of your child`s remaining with the assistant. Overall, our study has shown that voluntary care plays an important role in Ireland`s child protection system, but is regulated fairly easily by international standards. This involves risks that, in some cases, can be used in a way that does not meet national and international standards for the rights of parents and children. The combination of the above factors may increase the vulnerability of parents.
Social workers, legally required to protect children, often explain to parents that they can sign a voluntary custody contract, or Tusla must instead apply to court. There may be no intention to push parents to sign, but the power imbalance between social workers and parents can produce this effect. Other points raised by study participants were that limited resources are more likely to be allocated to cases where Tusla reports to a judge on the child`s plan than children in voluntary foster care. Children who volunteer may have fewer opportunities to give their opinions on decisions that affect them.