Review of the Child Care Act 1991
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has commenced a review of the Child Care Act 1991. The 1991 Act is a wide ranging piece of legislation which, at its core, seeks to promote the welfare of children who may not receive adequate care and protection.
The legislation covers the following main areas:
- Promotion of welfare of children, including the relevant functions of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
- Protection of children in emergencies, including section 12 which governs the powers of An Garda Síochána to take a child to safety
- Care proceedings, including the different types of care orders which can be made by a court
- Children in need of special care or protection
- Private foster care
- Jurisdiction and procedure, including provisions for the appointment of a guardian ad litem for a child (section 26)
- Children in the care of the Child and Family Agency
- Supervision of preschool services and
- Children’s residential centres
See link to the legislation here.
The review is in line with a commitment in Better Outcomes Brighter Futures – The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020 which states that the Government commits to ‘review and reform as necessary, the Child Care Act 1991.’
The purpose of the review is to:
- Identify what is working well within the legislation including its impact on policy and practice
- Address any identified gaps, operational improvements and new areas for development
- Capture current legislative, policy and practice developments
- Building on those steps, revise the original legislation
Please note that the reform of current Guardian ad Litem arrangements (under section 26 of the 1991 Act) is being progressed separately to this review and has already been the subject of public consultation. See link to information on this.
DCYA has commenced a public consultation process on the review of the Child Care Act 1991. The Department are also working closely with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to identify areas for reform under the 1991 Act.
Open Policy Debate
DCYA held a successful Open Policy Debate on the review of the 1991 Act in Dublin Castle on 5th September 2017. More than 80 participants attended the event that involved discussions on what works well and what needs to be improved and developed in the legislation.
The report of the day, as prepared by an independent rapporteur, is available here.
Written Consultation Process
The Department commenced a Written Consultation on the 15 December 2017, which concluded on the 23 February 2018. The consultation invited written submissions regarding how best to reform and revise the 1991 Act.
The Department is grateful for the many responses that it has received from representative bodies, membership and non-governmental organisations, universities, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, as well as legal practitioners, social workers and other interested parties. All written submissions are being carefully examined in the process of developing proposals.
This section contains links to useful reference documents on the review of the Child Care Act 1991:
- Child Care Act 1991 (Consolidated version – Law Reform Commission)
- Explanatory memo – Child Care Bill 1988
- Information note for Open Policy Debate
- Child Care Law Reporting Project
- Childcare proceedings in the District Court Research Project, University College Cork (see several articles at http://cora.ucc.ie)
- A video series on removal systems in other countries
- Report on the Open Policy Debate, 5th September, 2017
- Review of international child care legislation by Centre of Effective Services