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Parents to sue State for cost of son's care

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Four Courts

The parents of a severely disabled boy are suing the State for hundreds of thousands of euro that they have had to personally pay to care for him.

John and Orla Collins are facing financial ruin after years of struggling to find and pay for a suitable care and education setting for John Christopher (16).

The teenager suffers from a range of serious conditions, including cerebral palsy, left hemiplegia (paralysis), autism and has additional behavioural problems and a learning disability.

And while the Departments of Health and Children and Education and Science have been aware of his problems since 2002, it took his parents many years of struggling at home and abroad to find the proper care and education for John Christopher.

While some financial support was forthcoming from the HSE and limited educational support from the Department of Education, the parents have had to fund an estimated €400,000 to ensure their son was properly cared for.

The couple who live in Foxrock, Co Dublin, are suing both ministers, the HSE, the National Council for Special Education, Ireland and the Attorney in a High Court action which is listed for hearing next week.

needs

They claim that since 2002 John Christopher has been passed from agency to agency and from service provider to service provider in an unsuccessful attempt to meet his special needs.

The last, desperate resort for his parents came in June 2007 when they felt they had no option but to avail of an offer of appropriate intervention in Boston. John Christopher was transferred to the US where he remained without the company of his parents or siblings and where he received appropriate intervention for 18 months between June 2007 and December 2008.

When he returned to Ireland the State finally provided a placement for him in St Catherine's Association in Wicklow in June 2009, where he remains on a residential basis. He also attends school in St Catherine's.

His parents have tried since 2009 to seek reimbursement from the State for the funds they have spent.

Extended family and friends had also contributed generously - one friend ran a marathon and raised €30,000.

But now they believe that they have no option but to seek redress through the courts.

hnews@herald.ie


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