'Sexualised behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse and criminal activities' noted during inspection on children's care home
Inspectors who visited a residential centre for children found evidence of sexualised behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, criminal activities and incidents of violence.
The centre in the south of the country was in crisis, the team from Hiqa discovered.
Over the previous year there were 472 incidents reported to staff, including 409 significant events which included children going missing, at risk behaviour and physical restraint.
The centre which is run by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is located on a campus style facility on the outskirts of a large town. At the time nine boys were living in the centre.
There were 277 incidents of children being absent from the centre in the twelve months prior to inspection.
Some children had to be frequently sent back to their own family homes because of the risks they faced at the centre.
Failures in the running of the centre meant that children sometimes experienced significant harm, the inspectors warned.
They said there were significant weaknesses in managing challenging behaviour and this was compounded by failure to maintain effective management systems to ensure the service was safe.
“Systems of communication, risk management, monitoring and supervision were ineffective," the report read.
In response the Child and Family Agency said today it accepted the report’s findings.
Jim Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Tusla said: “HIQA inspection reports are an important measurement tool and allow us to ensure that Tusla services operate at the highest possible standard.
"While the report demonstrated evidence of good practice and care, it is with regret that we acknowledge shortcomings in a children’s residential centre in the south region.
He added:“Tusla remains committed to improving the care and safeguarding of children in the centre in question and to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children in our care. In conjunction with HIQA, we have created and begun to implement an action plan to address the deficits identified.”
Tusla is putting measures in place to improve the service and standards in the centre in a timely and measurable way to ensure that children receive the right level of care, he added.
Tusla has developed a National Child Protection Practice Note for Children’s Residential Services, which includes a code of behaviour and amended child protection policy. This has been introduced in the service and two training sessions have been held. The new practice note will be implemented from 30th November 2016.
It has reinstated child protection review meetings in the centre and increased their frequency to quarterly.
Tusla has assigned two monitoring officers to carry out monitoring visits in the service on a monthly basis until care and safeguarding practice in the service reaches the required standard.
The first of these monitoring visits took place on 21st October 2016.