New agency to make changes after teen in care dies from apparent drug overdose
THE new Child and Family Agency has pledged to implement a raft of measures after serious shortcoming were identified in the care of a teenager who died from an apparent drug overdose.
The recommendations are made in a damning report into the death of a teenager who spent most of his life in State care.
Danny Talbot (19) died of a suspected drugs overdose while in receipt of aftercare services.
The report exposes serious shortcoming mental health and social worker services and found the teenager's needs were never fully assessed despite contact with the health services for the majority of his life.
It's authors were unable to determine whether fears the young Dubliner may have been abused by both a relative and another person as a child were ever followed up.
Mr Talbot's case was one of five examined by independent child welfare experts.
However, only four of the National Review Panel reports were published today by the Child and Family Agency.
The fifth report, relating to a girl known as Molly, was withheld following a request from her relatives.
The review panel also dealt with a second drugs related death, that of a boy known as Nicholas, who had first been referred to the HSE's Social Work Department when he was five.
He died aged 17 from a toxic combination of drugs while socialising with friends.
The report was critical of the HSE for allowing him to remain for too long in an environment where drug misuse was the norm and his father could not meet his needs.
Nicholas first came into contact with child protection services as a result if neglect, maternal alcohol abuse and homelessness.
He became a father in his mid teens and shortly afterwards ended up in a high support unit after becoming involved in anti-social behaviour and drug misuse.
His social worker team had tried to keep him living with his father, despite evidence the man was heavily using cannabis in addition to taking methadone.
A third report dealt with a disabled boy known as John, detailed how he died in hospital of a serious illness.
His family had withheld consent for the continuation of treatment recommended by his hospital consultant and instead opted for alternative and complementary medicine.
The HSE applied to the High Court for dispensation of parental consent and an order to resume John's treatment.
The boy's parent agreed to resume treatment, but shortly afterwards one of then took him out of the country.
He was brought back to Ireland, but died some time later in a children's hospital.
The report on this case found the HSE Social Work Department had acted promptly.
However, it found there had been a lack of clarity over which body should take the legal action, an issue which delayed intervention by several months.
The fourth report related to a girl known as Susan, who died following an accident at home.
An inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure and the death was described as "a tragedy".
Susan had spent some time in foster care before being returned to her family.
The report found no link between her death and the nature and quality of the services she received.
However, the review team was unable to find a written plan regarding Susan's return home.
The reluctance of the girl's mother to engage with family support services provided limited their impact.
The report concluded there was "a level of over optimism" by social workers in their assessment of her parents' capacity to care for her.