Disabled girl abandoned at birth 'failed by HSE and Tusla'
A teenage girl with Down syndrome and autism, who was abandoned at birth, received inadequate supports from Tusla and the HSE, the Children's Ombudsman has found.
Dr Niall Muldoon said a report published today into the care of 'Molly' - not her real name - upheld a complaint by her foster carer that the State child care agency Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE) provided "insufficient" services and supports to Molly, who has been in State care since birth, due to a "lack of co-ordination" between the two State bodies.
"Molly is dependent on her foster carers in all areas of her care, including feeding, toileting, bathing, and dressing. She requires a wide range of therapies and services."
Her foster carer complained to the Ombudsman for Children's Office about the level of supports and services being provided by Tusla and the HSE.
"Although Molly brings joy and positivity to their home, her foster carer was struggling financially and emotionally to deal with her needs," he wrote in a statement last night.
"We investigated Molly's case and found that there was a lack of co-ordination between the Tusla and the HSE, which meant that services and supports were insufficient," he said.
"We also found that this is a problem facing many children with disabilities in care. In 2015, there were 472 children with a diagnosed moderate to severe disability in foster care, representing approximately 8pc of the foster care population in Ireland.
"This is an important investigation highlighting the struggles of some of our most vulnerable children, many of whom cannot speak out for themselves.
"Foster carers and social workers all over the country are working tirelessly to support young people with disabilities who are in care, but we cannot be dependent on individual efforts, the system must support young people to reach their full potential," he said.
However, following the investigation Tusla has now agreed to a systemic review of the supports and services offered to children in its care with a moderate to severe disability, he said.
"They will also identify these children to the HSE to facilitate care planning and joint working for these children," he added.
Tusla chief operations officer Jim Gibson said the agency accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations in the report which were currently being implemented and acknowledged "that improvements are required in the co-ordination of services for children with a moderate or severe disability".