Children forced to remain in care abroad over lack of secure beds
Vulnerable children are being forced to remain in care abroad or placed on lengthy waiting lists, because of a lack of availability of secure beds in Ireland, a report into child care cases found.
The concern was raised in the 30 new reports from the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).
The reports focused on a number of children with severe problems, who required to be detained in secure care units for their own protection. This included children who were suicidal, self-harming or engaging in anti-social behaviour or were a threat to others.
In one case a child was unable to return to Ireland after receiving the necessary treatment abroad, because there was no suitable place available for him. The teenage boy had been in a psychiatric secure detention unit in another jurisdiction for three years and had done extremely well.
In another case a child who returned from four years in the 'Boys Town' centre in the US needing continued therapeutic care was moved to various placements, including holiday accommodation, because no suitable placement could be found for him. After his return he began taking heroin and crack cocaine, leaving his placement in the middle of the night.
Three teenagers in secure care, who had all been victims of sexual abuse, attempted self-harm during a five-month period they were on the list, having their cases reviewed weekly by the court. Some of these incidents resulted in admission to hospital, the report added.
"The High Court cases we report here echo the concerns of the National Review Panel on Child Deaths on the lack of specialised mental health and other appropriate services for very vulnerable young people, who often languish for months while waiting for suitable secure placements," said Dr Carol Coulter, CCLRP director.
The reports also highlights an Interim Care Order granted for a young boy found in a car with his homeless parents in the middle of the night. The couple were about to smoke heroin and planned sleeping in the car.