Simon Communities of Ireland Submission to the Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

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Wednesday, October 11th, SCI attended the Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth to speak about Youth Homelessness. We were delighted to be joined by colleagues from Galway Simon Community who operate a dedicated Youth Service that keeps young people out of emergency accommodation.

During our address to the Committee, we drew specific attention to young people in homelessness who experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), but never officially entered the care of the State. This includes young people who became known to Tusla due to welfare concerns – likely because they experienced family breakdown as a late teenager – but did not officially enter care possible because they ‘aged out’, or circumstances at the time were not deemed to be at a level of risk that warranted significant intervention.

The concern here is that this group is ‘invisible’. There is little awareness of their needs, which we fear is compounding the issue. We have been speaking about this group for some time, and have advocated for their inclusion in the upcoming Youth Homelessness Strategy. Through a coordinated, universal response, policy measures can be developed and implemented to protect this group from homelessness and housing insecurity as they enter adulthood:

  • Additional Key Workers and supports need to be available to vulnerable young people not in State Care to prevent homelessness and poverty
  • Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) needs to expand and adapt to be more inclusive of all young people at risk of homelessness. This is a housing-led response that has the potential to eradicate the threat of homelessness for many vulnerable young people.
  • Vulnerable young people need an Improved Social Welfare rate. Young people under the age of 25 are still subjected to a lower social welfare rate of €117.70. While some categories of young people have been included in the higher social welfare rate, this group are not.
  • Increased Collaboration: A multi-agency partnership exists between Galway Simon, Galway City Council and Tusla to ensure youth services are well informed and young people are well supported and is proving effective. SCI see value and potential in this model and wish to work with the Committee and other agencies to promote and extend this type of collaborative work.

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