Friday 30 September 2016

Five children known to social services died

Published 22/07/2016 | 02:30

Five children who were involved with social services in the Midlands died in the space of just two years, an inspection report has revealed (Stock picture)
Five children who were involved with social services in the Midlands died in the space of just two years, an inspection report has revealed (Stock picture)

Five children who were involved with social services in the Midlands died in the space of just two years, an inspection report has revealed.

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The children would have been known to the service due to a range of concerns including neglect and welfare risks.

The children had varying levels of involvement with social services overseen by Tusla either currently or in the past, inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) warned.

The cause of death is not revealed but 10 serious incidents were reported.

The Midlands Area comprises the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford. The area is predominantly rural in nature and has five main urban areas, Portlaoise, Tullamore, Athlone, Mullingar and Longford.

Recommendations and actions arising from reviews which were carried out into the deaths of the children, as well as national review panel reports, were not effectively implemented.

Inspectors, who visited the service in January and returned in March, found that some staff were unaware of child deaths or that a review had been carried out.

The quality of the three local and internal review reports varied.

Two made general recommendations in regard to service delivery but did not comment on the quality of decision-making or oversight. The third review was comprehensive.

The area manager told inspectors she planned to collate the recommendations from all review reports and track their implementation.

The inspectors said the "opportunities for learnings" had been missed .

Inspectors said that, during 2015, a backlog of cases going back several years was found.

The staff had worked through the majority of the children's cases and a small number of cases remained.

However, there had been significant delays in assessing and managing these cases.

One duty team had mostly agency staff with less than two years' experience.

In response, Tusla said a range of measures had now been implemented, including strengthening management and allocating additional staff.

Irish Independent

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