Children in care spent cold winter under a leaky roof
CHILDREN in state care were forced to endure most of this winter in a residential home with a leaking roof, a damning inspector's report finds.
One room was saturated from rain coming through the roof -- and children were forced to use a recreation sitting area that was "very cold" and dependent on electric heating.
The revelations are contained in a report carried out by inspectors at the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in September.
The inspectors ordered the immediate suspension of admissions to the home in the HSE's North Lee community service area of Cork and said children should be moved to a more suitable premises.
However, the HSE confirmed yesterday that it was only in January that children were moved from the home. It was deemed "totally unsuitable" in a December 2008 inspection.
The inspectors also found fault with the manner in which a 10-year-old boy at the home was being protected from bullying by another resident and said a child of that age should not have been placed there.
The national policy of the Department of Health states that children under 12 years should only be placed in residential care in "exceptional circumstances".
The inspection report is one of several which reveal how the HSE is failing to provide proper standards for care for vulnerable children, who must be placed in a residential home. There are 5,332 children in state care including around 400 in residential facilities.
Another inspection of a home in the Dublin mid-Leinster region revealed how, in February 2008, inspectors were seriously concerned about the level of unauthorised absences by some young residents.
During these absences the residents drank alcohol, had inappropriate relationships with men known to gardai and went off in cars with them.
They also were taking non-prescription drugs and abusing aerosols and were at risk of being assaulted in town at night. None of the young people were receiving education.
In a follow-up inspection last year the inspectors were still concerned about the unauthorised absences of two of the young people and the absence of adequate safeguards.
"Inspectors found that the young people were often beyond the control of staff."
An HSE spokeswoman said yesterday that an external group was set up in July last year to review the report's recommendations and its work is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the HSE acknowledged yesterday that HIQA had expressed concern about "practice deficiencies" in the management of foster family care in the Dublin and north east region. She said the HSE was now attempting to put the same systems in place throughout the country.