The Right to family & care

The right to family & care

Your rights under the UNCRC

UNCRC, Article 5: It’s your right that your family helps you learn to exercise your rights.

UNCRC, Article 9: It’s your right to live with your parent(s), unless it is bad for you.

UNCRC, Article 10: If you live in a different country than your parents do, it’s your right to be reunited.

UNCRC, Article 18: It’s your right to be raised by your parent (s) if possible.

UNCRC, Article 20: It’s your right to special care and help if you cannot live with your parents.

UNCRC, Article 21: It’s your right to care and protection if you are adopted or are in foster care.

Your rights under Irish law

-Under Article 41 of the Irish Constitution, it’s your right that you are cared for and brought up by your family.

-Under the Child Care Act 1991, it’s your right to be cared for by your family. However if it isn’t safe for you to be with your family, it’s your right to be cared for by the State.

– Under an amendment to the Child Care Act 1991, it will be your right from September 2017 to receive an aftercare plan for when you leave state care when you are 18.

– Under the Children and Family Relationship Act 2015, it’s your right that your best interests are thought about if you are adopted.

– Under the Adoption Act (Amended) 2017, it’s your right to be adopted by your foster care family if you have been in their care for 18 months.

Did you know?

  • The Irish Constitution says that the family should be the “primary and natural educator of the child”.
  • There are many different types of family in Ireland. In May 2015, the people of Ireland voted to allow people of the same sex to marry.
  • When a family can no longer care for their child, or if a court decides that it is in a child’s best interests to not live with their family, a child may live in the care of the State. Some children and young people  live with a relative, some might live with a foster family, or some live in residential care.
  • In February 2018, there were 6,161 children and young people living in the care of the state in Ireland. 5,683 young people were in foster care placements of different kinds and 357 were in different types of residential care.
  • In 2016, the Adoption Authority of Ireland granted 95 adoptions. The majority of these adoptions (65) were stepfamily adoptions.
  • As of September 2017, the government will give families extra support to help them manage the cost of childcare. It is a programme called ‘affordable childcare’. 31,000 children under 3 have benefited from Ireland’s first ever universal childcare subsidy (CRA Report card 2018).
  • 3 out of 4 young carers in Ireland report good life satisfaction. Young carers are young people who give regular, unpaid help to a family member, or friend with a long term illness, health problem or disability.
  • In 2013, 73% of 15 year olds reported spending time just talking with parents – an increase of 5% on the 2012 figure (Better Outcome Better Futures Indicators 2017)
  • Young people leaving State care at the age of 18 can be at risk of becoming homeless. In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Ireland needs to do more to prepare and support young people for leaving care and to assist them when they have left care.

Hear your right – read by Cillian Millar

As Gaelige

Tá sé de cheart agat cónaí le do thuismitheoir(í), mura ndéanfaidh sé sin dochar duit. Tá sé de cheart agat cónaí le teaghlach a dhéanfaidh cúram díot.

Éist le do chearta – léite ag Caoimhe Ní Scolaí

What children and young people are saying

  • “The right to family and care is about your guardians caring about you and respecting your brothers and sisters and the younger ones in your family” – Luke (12)

    “The most important right for me is a place to be loved and cared for, there are a lot of homeless children, orphans in the street that don’t know their parents and have lost theirs. A lot of them don’t have any parents and they have to fend for themselves and they have nowhere else to go” – Wonu (11)

    “Children need families and people who care for them because otherwise they won’t be safe and might end up being homeless and living on the streets.”
    – Group of 7-12 year old boys, Dublin

    “It’s really important that children have a family because a family helps to make sure you are safe. You learn from and play with your family. And it’s important to know that there are people who are there for you 100% and will support you.”
    – Group of boys and girls, Dublin

    “It’s good to have your family and relatives all together.”
    – 7 year old boy, Dublin

    “It is hard sometimes when people do not recognise that a family does not always have two parents and a happy life. I still believe that I am a normal teenager even though others may say that my family is different.”
    – 15 year old girl, Wicklow

    “Family is very important because they love us. Family is also important because you need someone to support you.”

    “Children that are loved and cared for grow up to be confident adults.”

  • Children and young people share their views on children’s rights to survive and develop


Find out more

  • EPIC – Find out how EPIC works with and for young people in care in Ireland
  • Pathways– ‘Pathways’ is an aftercare guide for young people who are preparing to leave care, by young people who have left care
  • Barnardos – Information for young people whose parents are separating or divorced.
  • You Are Not Alone – This is a short film by the OCO and the Courts Service that gives young people information about some of the routes parents may take when they separate. (e.g. family mediation or going to court).

Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators

  • Family Tree Kids – ‘Family Tree Forms’ offer family tree charts for different family types.
  • Council of Europe – ‘We are Family’. Activity for 8-10 year olds to explore different types of families. In Compasito. Manual on Human Rights Education for Children (2007), pp.172-173.
  • The Children’s Society – ‘My Family’. Activity for children about different family types, which focuses on the story of a young carer.
  • UNICEF Ireland – ‘My Family/Carers’. Information, discussion points and images for young people to explore the roles of family and carers in relation to children and young people’s well-being. In Picture Your Rights (2015), p.2.
  • Citizens Information Board – ‘What happens when parents separate?’ Activity for young people to understand rights in relation to custody and access. In Rights and Entitlements for Young People (2010), pp.110-111 & p.118.
  • Young Carers: Tips for teachers on how to identify and help young carers in their classrooms.