Parent & Family Carer Supports and Information…

Caring for a sick child at hospital or at home can be very stressful for parents. The sections below provide advice on
who can provide support and information and a range of other useful information.

Finding Support: Who can help parent and carers…

Hospital and community care professionals

Medical Social Workers offer a number of services to children in hospital care and their families. These services are available for children and their families who attend the hospital on both an outpatient and inpatient basis. Medical Social Workers offer both practical and emotional support to families. Ask your child’s medical team about a referral to the medical social worker.

Hospital Chaplains are specifically trained in pastoral care in a hospital setting and work as part of the multidisciplinary team in the hospital. They seek to meet the pastoral and emotional needs of the patients and their families and are available to be a source of comfort, empathy, compassion and hope to families particularly during times of crisis or bereavement.

A range of other professionals may be able to support depending on the situation.

  • Outreach Nurse – The outreach nurse will support your child and family in the community. They will help set up additional supports and services.
  • Psychologist – A psychologist may be available to support you during your child’s hospital stay. Ask your nurse or Medical Social Worker if this support is available.

Public Health Nurses provide a range of healthcare services in the community. They are usually based in your local health centre and are assigned to cover specific geographical areas. Public Health Nurses sometimes provide aftercare to people who have been discharged from hospital.

They are one of the primary care services your child might receive.

The Public Health Nurse can help you understand the supports available and can make referrals to a range of services.

You can contact your local Public Health Nurse through your local health office

Carer Support Organisations 

Supports are available regardless of whether your child is in hospital for the first time, is receiving long term care in hospital or at home,
or you are caring for your child full time, or caring and working.

Condition Specific Supports for Parents

Search our Database to see if there is a condition specific support organisation that provides supports or peer support to parents.

Many parents also connect to other parents with similar experiences on Facebook and other social media support groups. Many of these groups can be found using the search feature on Facebook or Instagram etc.

Financial, accommodation, transport and other supports:

Check out our other pages for information about financial and other supports available

Financial Supports

Accommodation & Transport

Managing employment when your child is sick

When a child is hospitalised, paid employment for parents is often impacted. This could include requesting time off or a
leave from work, bringing your child to appointments during work hours and needing some extra flexibility and
support to allow you to care for your child.

Keep reading for tips and information on government benefits for parents in paid employment that might
assist you in managing your paid employment while caring for a sick child.

  • Statutory time off work to care for a dependent: As a working parent you have the right to take reasonable time off to deal with a domestic emergency, which includes when your child is ill, and you need time to make alternative arrangements for their care.  Talk to your boss as soon as a problem arises, giving them a reason for the absence and how long you expect to be away.

  • Check Your Employment Contract: Some employers provide paid compassionate or carers’ leave. Typically this is around five days per year, to deal with situations like looking after a sick child. Check your employment contract, company handbook or ask your union rep about any entitlements.

  • Sharing the burden: Remember that both parents are entitled to time off to look after ill children, so it should not be assumed that one parent has to manage everything.

  • Flexible working: some employers will have policies on flexible working, for example flexi-time so you can juggle your hours to manage your care. Check your staff handbook, talk to your union rep or ask your manager what options might be available to you.

  • Talk to your employer: It can be stressful trying to manage employment while also caring for a sick child and the rest of your family. Talking to your employer as soon as possible will help you understand if there are options available you had not considered.

  • Contact Support Organisations: Contact Citizens Information Bureau or Family Carers Ireland for advice and to make sure you know your rights.

Government Entitlements for parents who are working

Carer’s leave allows employees to leave work temporarily to provide full-time care and attention for someone who needs it. You can take carer’s leave for a minimum of 13 weeks and up to a maximum of 104 weeks. Carer’s leave from employment is unpaid but your job will be kept open for when you return.

Fore more information…

Carer’s leave (

Carer’s leave (

Carer’s Benefit is a paid to people who leave work or reduce their hours to care for a person in need of full-time care. You must have enough PRSI contributions. You can get Carer’s Benefit for 2 years (104 weeks) for each person that you are caring for.

For more information…

Carer’s Benefit ( – Carer’s Benefit

Parental leave lets parents take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. You can take up to 26 weeks’ parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday or 16th birthday if your child has a disability or long-term illness. Parental leave is different to parent’s leave.

For more information…

Unpaid Parental Leave (

Parental leave (

Parent’s leave entitles each parent to 7 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family. You can receive Parents Benefit while on Parents Leave if you have enough PRSI contributions.

Parents leave is different to parental benefit.

For more information…

Parent’s leave –

Parent’s leave (

If you have a family crisis, you have a right to limited time off work. This is called force majeure leave. You may need to take force majeure leave for an urgent family reason, such as the unexpected injury or illness of a ‘close family member’. You are entitled to take up to 3 days paid force majeure leave in any 12-month period, or 5 days in a 36-month period. Depending on your employer and your contract of employment, you may be able to take more than this but you should check if this additional leave is paid.

For more information…

Force Majeure (

If a member of your close family dies, you may be able to take compassionate leave. This depends on:

  • Your employment contract
  • The custom and practice within your workplace
  • Your employer’s discretion.

For more information…

Compassionate leave (

Unpaid leave for medical care was introduced on 3 July 2023. It gives you 5 days unpaid leave if you need to take time off work to deal with serious medical care for a child or other relevant person like a family member.

You have a right to 5 days leave for medical care in any 12 consecutive months.

You don’t need to take the leave all at once. It can be taken as single or multiple days.

For more information…

Unpaid leave for medical care

Planning for the future

We have compiled a selection of useful information and resources that might help you start to plan for your child’s future.
This includes information to help you prepare for your child to move to adult healthcare services,
preparing for further education for your child, and financial planning for the future.

Getting ready to move to adult healthcare services

As your child approaches 16 you should start to prepare both yourself and your child for moving to adult healthcare services. The age your child actually moves to adult services, planning for the move and your child’s new care service may differ
depending on their medical condition and hospital.

  • Depending on your child’s condition, they may move to adult services at age 16 or later as determined by their doctor.
  • You should begin discussing this with your consultant and care team as early as possible and the tips below may help you start to prepare.

  • Adult clinics and units will not have some of the supports available that you may have been able to access such as play specialists, sensory rooms etc.

  • Transition can take quite quickly without much preparation so you should start to ask your child’s healthcare team about transition planning at least one year before your child’s 16th birthday.
  • Be prepared for your child to start being admitted through adult emergency services from age 16.

  • Review the information in the SteppingUp website to help you know what to expect and to start to involve your child in managing their condition.

SteppingUp provides information, checklists, personal stories and more, to help young people and their families prepare to move to adult healthcare services.

Education pathways and supports

The organisations below provide information and advice to help you understand the options and supports available for children with a disability or long term illness. These may include alternative further education and third-level education pathways, employment supports and options and training schemes.

Finances for the future

Planning for you and your child’s future financial security can be a daunting and confusing task. Certain benefits and entitlements will change or require a new application when your child turns 16, you should consider creating a will and should think about the options available for saving for your child’s future.

The resources below may help you start to plan for you and your child’s financial future.

  • Changes to government benefits at age 16 – Eligibility for certain benefits change at age 16. The resources below can help you understand these changes.

  • Charity supports Some charities support children or adults only. As your child turns 16 or older, they may be able to access supports available for adults.

  • Free Webinars and workshops Financial Wellbeing (see below) provides excellent free webinars/workshops. They cover special needs trusts, wills, guardians, trustees, bank accounts, letter of wishes, hospital passports, hidden entitlements and how best to fund your child’s trust. They also have an excellent blog which they update with lots of useful information, especially when there are changes to benefits. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Useful resources