Tuesday 20 August 2019

Thirteen children who were known to social services or in state care died last year

(Stock Image)
(Stock Image)

Eilish O’Regan

Thirteen children who were either in State care or known to social services died last year, including three from suicide.

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

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

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

Review chairwoman Helen Buckley said that good practice was evidence in the two cases where children died from serious illnesses.

There were examples of consistent child-centered work and excellent inter-agency cooperation.

However, in other instances they 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 true in those cases 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,” the report said.

The tragic toll of 13 child deaths in 2018 marks a decrease from 22 in 2017.

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