Monday 11 December 2017

Deaths of children reveal failures in social services care

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A 12-year-old girl who committed suicide was among the 25 children in care or known to social services who died last year.

The tragic death toll is four times higher than in 2015, according to the report of an independent review panel which investigates the deaths.

One boy was the victim of homicide.

Ten of the young people died of natural causes and five from suicide. Three of the five children who took their own lives were girls and two were boys.

The next most common cause of death was a combination of road traffic accidents. Two died from drug overdoses.

They are among 149 deaths notified since 2010 to the panel, chaired by Dr Helen Buckley, associate professor at the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College.

Dr Buckley said lessons needed to be learned following a review of individual cases.

"Some of these reviews reveal the level of pressure being experienced by social work departments due to increased reporting and shortages of staff," she said.

"In addition, reports show evidence of an emerging and problematic gulf between health services and social work departments following the separation of child protection services from the HSE."

Jim Gibson, chief operations officer of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, said: "On behalf of Tusla, I wish to extend my sincere sympathies to all those affected by the deaths of the children and young people mentioned in these reviews.

"The death of any child is a tragedy and has a significant impact on their family, friends and wider community."

He said a protocol was now in place to improve the way agencies work together.

Irish Independent

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