The recent re-organisation of children's services in Ireland, with the newly formed Child And Family Agency or Tusla, has prompted the Ombudsman for Children's Office to present a report regarding the provision of services for children in care: A Meta-analysis of repetitive root cause issues regarding Children in Care. The report provides an analysis of ten complaints received by the Ombudsman for Children's Office from June 2007 to January 2012. The sample of complaints were deemed representative of the type of issues brought to the attention of the Ombudsman for Children's Office. It is hoped the report's systemic recommendations will benefit the newly formed Tusla.
Two of the ten complaints related to children in detention. The first case highlighted a 16-year-old girl who, prior to entering a detention centre, had 12 different placements in a one year period leading to incidents of self-harm as a direct result of various placements breaking down. The second case concerned a 15-year-old residing in a detention centre having been remanded there by a District Court for assessment. His complaint related to the alleged delay in a future placement being made available to him by the HSE.
Findings related to children in detention:
1. Considerable delays finding appropriate accommodation for children in detention. Eight month delay for one young person granted bail from a juvenile detention centre on the condition the HSE could provide appropriate residence.
2. Remands to custody based on welfare needs in one case. Information provided by the HSE indicated that the Judge in the Juvenile Court did not wish to criminalise the young person in the second case and that remands in custody had been made on welfare grounds”.
3. Delays in making decisions due to contrasting views of professionals. The report outlines that “it was of grave concern to this Office that a 15 year old with identified welfare needs remained in the criminal justice system for a seven (7) month period whilst the most appropriate way to meet those needs was identified. The delay in providing an onward placement related to the divergent views as to the most appropriate placement for him and the length of time involved in making a decision in this regard, specifically the Special Care application”.
Specific recommendation relating to children in detention:
“It is recommended that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs establishes a national expert commissioning group to plan and promote the development of the highly specialised services which are required to meet the needs of children and young people with a combination of complex needs. This group should include representatives from other Government Departments or their agents e.g. Department of Health, Department of Justice and Equality and Department of Education and Skills”.
The report is available here.