The grandparents of a child removed from their home, after Tusla decided they were too old to provide adequate foster care said they only want justice.
“All we’re fighting for is justice, that’s all we want. We’ve done no wrong, what have we to answer for? We’re just our age, we can’t turn that clock back,” the grandfather told the Irish Examiner.
“To get him back would be our goal. We will protect the child and are prepared to protect the child to the ends of the earth.”
The boy was removed from the care of his grandparents last October by child and family agency Tusla, and has been living in a different county since. Age was one of six grounds on which Tusla took the decision to remove the boy from the couple’s care. He had been in their foster care for almost five years.
“When they deemed us down, and we weren’t fit and we weren’t this and that, we got all the doctors’ letters,” said the grandfather. “We got everything, this is what’s grieving us.
“Why wouldn’t they sign up to leave us that child, come in on a six-month basis if they wanted to, and if we were deteriorating in health and we weren’t able to look after the child at that stage, well give it up then. The child would be older, the child would be more mature, it would be easier on the child and easier on everyone.
“That [deemed too old to provide care] is an insult to anyone. You’re nearly told you’re no use more or less.
“We invested every way, our heart and soul, all our energies, everything the child needed for. Everything was always looked after because we just didn’t want to lose him.”
Tusla cannot comment on individual cases but a spokeswoman said the agency values the role of grandparents when it comes to foster care.
“Tusla values the important role of the extended family, in particular grandparents, in providing care and protection for a child where their parents are unable to do so,” a spokeswoman told the Irish Examiner.
“Where circumstances allow, Tusla will always seek to place a child with a relative where there is an existing attachment between the child and the carer, and indeed 45% of children in foster care are placed with a relative.”
Age Action said that grandparents played a vaulable, and often overlooked, role in Irish life.
“I don’t think the contribution made by grandparents in looking after their grandchildren is properly appreciated,” said Justin Moran, head of advocacy and communications for Age Action. “There are people in Ireland who can only go to work, who can only go back to education, because their parents are willing to step in and provide what is basically a form of free childcare.”
Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath, who highlighted the case, called for an independent body set up to review decisions taken by Tusla.
“There needs to be some body that can assess independently,” he said.
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