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Friday 23 August 2019

Six babies were among the deaths of 13 children known by State to be vulnerable


Report: Helen Buckley is chair of the National Review Panel
Report: Helen Buckley is chair of the National Review Panel
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Six of the 13 children either in State care or known to social services who died last year were babies.

One of the tragic deaths involved a suicide.

The annual report of the National Review Panel shows one child died as a result of an accident, eight from natural causes and one of an unknown cause.

Maternal drug abuse was associated with four of the baby deaths, although not identified as a cause.

One of the children was in care and another had left for aftercare. Social work services were in contact with 11 others.

The independent review of 12 of the deaths showed evidence of both good and sub-standard practice.

Review chairperson Helen Buckley said that good practice was evident in the two cases in which children died from serious illnesses.

There were examples of consistent child-centred work and excellent inter-agency co-operation.

However, in other instances it was found the early responses after the child was referred to social work departments were slow and fragmented.

Some of the reports of concern about the children were given a less serious classification than was warranted.

This was particularly the case in those where children were at risk from their own behaviour or from the effect of living in adverse circumstances.

Lack of adequate assessment existed in some instances.

The report also highlighted deficits in services, particularly in mental health services and care for children with autism.

"In these cases, the burden of responsibility for protecting young people fell disproportionately on Tusla, which has no control over decisions made by health, mental health or disability services," said the report of the National Review Panel.

Irish Independent

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