Legal guardian or customary care provider to minors who arrive in Ireland without their parents is TUSLA, the Irish Child and Family Agency (previously the Health Service Executive (HSE). TUSLA is being referred to do so by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB, immigration police).

Following an initial child protection risk assessment, TUSLA child protection social workers bring any unaccompanied minor to a safe accommodation; either a children’s residential home or a foster care placement (for under 12’s or children with exceptional vulnerabilities).

The TUSLA social workers are designated as having legal responsibility for the child and overall responsibility for the care, welfare and protection needs.  This includes developing a statutory care plan in collaboration with the child, the child’s carers and any other relevant party in the child’s life. Health, education, socialization, spiritual and cultural needs as well as navigating through the asylum process if necessary, and preparations for leaving care are all included in the care planning process.

Irish legislation does not require every child received into state care to be brought to the attention of the judiciary.  Only when a court ordered care order is being made, there is the possibility to appoint  a ‘Guardian ad Litem’ to a child to represent the child’s view in legal proceedings and be the child’s voice in the courtroom. Guardians ad Litem are not legally responsible for an unaccompanied minor and should not be confused with a guardian who is responsible for the child’s care needs.

Advise for guardians
Guardians in other European Member States who assist an unaccompanied minor with a relative or family member in Ireland in a Dublin case are advised to contact TUSLA’s Team for Separated Children and ask them to make an assessment of the situation at a relative’s or family member’s home.

Principal Social Worker of Separated Children Seeking Asylum team
TUSLA Child and Family Agency
Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital
Lower Grand Canal Street Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel: 00353.1647 7000

Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)
13/14 Burg Quay Dublin 2
Tel: 0353.1.6669130