Support our work Policy Irish General Election Asks Our three key policy asks ahead of the 2020 Irish general election Support young people and families in crisis by providing nationwide access to an intensive service Over the past five years there has been a substantial increase in the number of children being referred to TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, which highlights the increased public awareness of child protection and welfare issues, as well as the gulf of unmet need which exists. In 2018, there were over 55,000 referrals to TUSLA, and early indications for 2019 show a further 10 percent increase. Today, there are approximately 6,000 children living in care, and while the vast majority are in a foster care there are a significant number in private residential care, at an annual cost of €312k per child. Funding needs to be redirected to preventative services like Extern’s Janus Project, a community-based service which supports children in their family home at an average annual cost of €4,620 per child. Increased resources are needed to provide nationwide services to prevent children from being brought into the care system and prevented from being placed into institutional care. Expand community services Extern services are tailored to the needs of individuals and families. We reach in and give children the chance they need to transform their lives for the better, and we never walk away. Our services include: Intensive Home Support Service An intensive programme which works with families in crisis, focusing on strengthening their unity, sustaining young people at home and helping the family to develop positive, healthy relationships. Families throughout Ireland should have access to an intensive support programme. Janus Programme Works intensively on a one-to-one basis with young people with challenging behaviour. The service is individually-tailored to support the young person to remain at home or at the lowest level within the care system – we want to prevent children being put into institutional care. Pledge support for Extern’s call for support to young people and families in crisis by providing nationwide access to an intensive service Divert children away from crime and risky behaviour Every young person engages in risk-taking, it is part of growing up; many experiment with drugs, and a small number will get involved in criminal behaviour. Thankfully, the majority of them, through the support of their families and communities, will avoid serious risk-taking and criminality. For those who do, effective intervention is vital. Recent horrific reports of young people being victims and perpetrators of crime highlights the need for action. However, the type of intervention is key – it needs to be effective and not ‘knee-jerk’. Extern’s intervention is evidence-led, and among the services we provide, are: Bail Supervision Scheme Extern’s Bail Supervision Scheme is an alternative to sending young people to detention which is proven to have a much better success rate at preventing reoffending. After receiving a referral we work intensively with the young person and their parent/guardian to make sure that they comply with court orders, and to support them in changing their behaviour. This programme should be expanded nationwide to divert children and young people under 21 from crime. Individual-focused Garda Youth Diversion Projects and Janus Justice Key to the success of these vital programmes is providing an individually-focused programme. Unlike a one-size-fits-all approach we identify the specific issues affecting the young person that are causing the risky and criminal behaviour, and target those. These programmes should be expanded to all young people under 21 to divert them from serious risky behaviour. Pledge support For Extern’s call to divert children from crime and risky behaviour by expanding intervention services Sustainable funding for community programmes in marginalised communities Extern, along with other Community and voluntary organisations who provide services to Ireland’s most vulnerable and marginalised children and families, are calling for state funding to be multi-annual, and that it covers all project running costs. At present we have to negotiate annually with many state agencies to fund life-saving services; this can lead to uncertainty for the people we work with. Many services provided by community and voluntary organisations are in imminent risk of having to be scaled back because funding does not always match true costs, which again can have a profound impact on those we work with. Pledge support for Extern’s call for sustainable funding to community and voluntary organisations providing vital services in marginalised communities.