THE NUMBER OF orders granted by the District Court to the Health Service Executive, allowing the agency take children into its care, more than doubled to 2,287 last year.
The significant jump was highlighted in the 2011 Court Services annual report, published today.
Amounting to a 119 per cent increase on 2010 figures, an average of 43 children per week were taken into care during the year because they were deemed to be at risk.
In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the HSE explained that 260 additional social workers had come on stream in the past 18 months and that a major reform programme in relation to how children and family services are delivered has been implemented.
“As part of this, a range of measures have taken place over the past 10 months, including the standardisation of social work practice and proceses across the country to ensure consistent action across all our services, in the best interest of the child,” the agency added as an explanation for the rise in orders.
The HSE may apply to the courts when it is dealing with children who are at risk or in need of care. These orders give the courts a range of powers, including decision-making, about they type of care necessary. They also decide on parents’ and other relatives’ access to the minors.
The number of children in HSE care has increased from 5,727 at the end of 2010 to 6,282 by May 2012.
Other than the 2,272 children taken into care, a further 972 supervision orders were granted. These allow the HSE to monitor a child who is considered at risk but he or she is not removed from the home environment.