Tuesday 24 October 2017

HSE putting hundreds of foster children in danger, says report

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

HUNDREDS of children in care were left in potential danger by the health service, with some placed with foster families who may be a risk to their safety.

A damning report into foster care in north west Dublin has revealed how the safety of 368 children was still not protected.

The inspection took place just a few months after a report revealed that 196 children in state care or known to social services died between 2000 and 2010.

Inspectors who examined HSE care of children in foster families in the north west suburbs of Dublin last October uncovered another catalogue of neglect and poor practice.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald admitted last night the findings of the report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) were "unacceptable".

She will hold an urgent meeting with Gordon Jeyes, who heads the HSE's child protection and welfare service.

The HIQA report, which was compiled last October, reveals:

• Some 38 allegations and concerns about foster carers were made in the previous 12 months and a significant number were confirmed. But many of the children remained in the homes even though not all had a "safety plan" in place.

• Children in some cases were placed with families even though they were not approved by an overseeing foster committee.

• Inspectors said files were unclear about how the level of risk to children was assessed.

• There were significant delays in investigating allegations.

• Files failed to show that all foster carers were vetted by gardai.

• Some children from the one family were split up even though it was recommended they stay together.

• Around 41pc of children had to be sent to homes outside Dublin north west, which includes suburbs such as Finglas and Blanchardstown, because there were not enough families to care for them.

The latest report follows a previous inspection of foster care facilities in north west Dublin in 2010, when serious risk to children was uncovered.

Last year's review of child deaths over a decade found that many were the victims of poor practice and neglect by the social services between 2000 and 2010 – prompting more pledges by the HSE that such abuses could not happen again.

Geoffrey Shannon, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, said that it was clear lessons had not been learned.

"Children who are left in a very high risk environment are very vulnerable. Every child should have a social worker assigned to them.

"Unless you have a social worker assigned you cannot know if the needs of the child are being met. There needs to be an action plan," he added.

Irish Independent

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