Friday 23 August 2019

New figures show 25 children in care or known to social services died last year

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Eilish O’Regan

A 12-year-old girl who took her own life was among the 25 children in care or known to social services who died last year.

The tragic death toll is four 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 people who took their own lives were girls and two were male.

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 need to be learned following  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.

“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.

“The primary responsibility for the care of a child lies with the family. Sometimes families need help to carry out that responsibility and it is the duty of the State to respond. The key learning from these reports is that good individual supports are not enough, without a coordinated, multi-agency approach.”

He said: “A consistent theme emerging from case reviews, inquiries and policy developments within Child and Family Services in recent years is that services for children and young people could be improved if statutory agencies worked more effectively together.

“This year, Tusla and the HSE published a joint working protocol to support good collaboration and working relationships between the agencies to promote the best interests of children, families and vulnerable adults with whom we work.”

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