- Category: In The News
- Created on 23 June 2012
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A report into the death of nearly 200 young people in contact with child-protection services has been described as "deeply shocking".
The study, which was carried out by the Independent Child Death Review Group, was published today.
It provides the first definitive account of how the State interacted with 196 young people who died while in contact with protection services between 2000 and 2010.
The report, found most children in the review did not receive an adequate service and that more consistent intervention by authorities could have assisted the young people's chances of overcoming their problems.
Barnardos said the report highlighted the systemic failure of the child welfare and protection system to adequately meet the needs of the children it had a duty to protect.
“We have had numerous reports indicating where the gaps in the system are. We know where the gaps are and as today’s report clearly outlines, we know what good practice looks like. We now need to step up the political commitment to reform the child welfare and protection system, specifically by allocating sufficient resources to the Child and Family Support Agency," said its chief executive Fergus Finlay.
The ISPCC said it was appalled by the report findings, which it said showed once again how the State had failed its children.
“This is a sad, shameful day; nearly 200 children died showing we still haven’t learnt from the litany of reports published in the last two decades," said chief executive Ashley Balbirnie.
Focus Ireland said the State had failed to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society and renewed its call for a legal right to aftercare for young adults in contact with protection services.
The report "charted a litany of failures and the tragic consequences of these failures for the young lives involved", it said.
"The tragedies in this report are not from the distant past. These young lives were lost in the last ten years and the failures outlined happened during the so called Celtic Tiger boom," said the charity's chief executive Joyce Loughlan.
"For too long we have allowed vulnerable children to be overlooked and their best interests ignored. Over the last 20 years, we have seen 17 separate statutory reports, detailing the horrific abuse and neglect suffered by children in in Ireland. These reports outline how we as a society have failed to protect those children most at risk," said the group's executive director Bart Storan. "Now is the time for the government to prioritise the rights of children in Ireland, and provide constitutional protection for those children who need it most.”
The Children's Rights Alliance said many of the deaths covered in the report could have been prevented but for major systems failures and human error.
"This report exposes the truth and clearly demonstrates that, as a society, we should have cared more, done more for these vulnerable children and young people," said the organisation's chief executive Tanya Ward.
“The alliance calls on Government to implement the report’s findings swiftly, particularly the need for a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution. We need a Constitution that will protect the rights of children and support them to grow up in a stable family home," she added.
The Children's Mental Health Coalition, which consists of more than 50 member organisations, said the report made "harrowing" reading.
“This report underlines the urgent need for the Government to recognise specific services must be in place to support the mental health needs of young people in detention, high support units and in special care," said chair Colm O'Gorman.
Empowering People In Care (Epic) welcomed publication of the report and said steps must be taken to rebuild confidence in child protection services.
"We must now see how we can learn from mistakes that were made, and continue to improve our services, but that requires greater funding and commitment to support social workers and foster carers appropriately," said the organisation's director Jennifer Gargan.
Fianna Fáil described the report as harrowing to read but said it was necessary in order to improve services.
“As legislators we must do everything in our power to help these children and the Government must implement the recommendations in this report as a matter of urgency. They will have Fianna Fáil’s full support in doing this," said the party's spokesman on Children Charlie McConalogue.
Sinn Féin called on the Government to speed up its overhaul of child-protection structures in the State following publication of the review.
Party president and Louth TD Gerry Adams said the conclusions of the report were "a serious indictment" of the child protection systems in the State. "It is clear that the State abdicated its duty in respect of some young people and failed to provide the adequate child protection support that should be expected of a modern state in the 21st century,” he said.
Mr Adams called on the Government to implement the recommendations of the report and to ensure the new Child and Family Support Agency that takes effect next year has the “necessary financial and personnel resources to deal with this very important issue”.
Senator Jillian van Turnhout said she was "profoundly saddened" by the report.
"The new Child and Family Support Agency, which will ensure greater integration between child welfare and protection and family support and will ultimately lead to better outcomes for children and their families, must be established as a matter of urgency," she said.
"Furthermore, I believe that to ensure a robust system that protects all children equally. We must strengthen children’s rights in our Constitution. We need a constitutional amendment that will allow the State to respond earlier, proportionately and more decisively."