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Children went 'missing' from Tusla care home more than 100 times in twelve-month period

The findings were made as part of an unannounced inspection by HIQA in July.

Image: Shutterstock/chatgunner

AN INSPECTION OF a Tusla care home has found that children in its care took “unauthorised absences” on more than 100 occasions in one year.

The inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority in July discovered that 103 unauthorised absences took place at the home over a 12-month period.

A report of the inspection noted that a “significant proportion” of these episodes were because children’s care plans changed unexpectedly, which led to the an increase in their occurrence.

Inspectors said that staff at the centre, which is based in the south of the country, had followed correct procedures whenever children went missing from its care. 

Absent management plans were on file which guided staff on procedures to be followed in the event a child was missing from the centre.

“However, there was a lack of evidence that they were effectively addressing this behaviour, despite having opportunities to do so during individual key working sessions with children,” the report said.

Gardaí notified

The inspectors did note that children were cared for well and also contributed to decisions about their own care.

But they also found that some children had poor sleeping habits which impaired their ability to get up in the morning, which impacted on their engagement with staff, their education and their potential prospects as they approached the age of 18.

“While children were not placed at risk while in the centre, they described an environment that was sometimes tense, and they told the inspector that they found it hard to sleep when voices were raised during incidents involving other children,” the report said.

Meanwhile, gardaí were notified ten times in the year before the inspection to assist with the management of the behaviour of children.

At the time of the inspection, the centre’s premises were found to be unsuitable for the provision of residential care to children.

The premises were unkempt in places and in urgent need of refurbishment.

The Director of Tusla’s children’s services was later notified, and HIQA said it was assured that the necessary works would be completed as a matter of priority. 

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