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Teens in State-run home were leaving regularly to take drugs

A Hiqa report found the care centre was not run in a way that the children were always safe and protected from themselves.

Image: teenager image via Shutterstock

AN INSPECTION OF a State-run residential care home for teenagers found some were frequently leaving the premises to take illegal substances.

The unnamed centre, which provides short to medium term care for up to five children of mixed gender between ages 13 and 18, is located on the outskirts of a town in the south of Ireland. At the time of the inspection, there were three boys living in the centre.

In its report, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said the three teens were engaged with “highly concerning risk taking behaviour involving the use of illegal substances”. Two of the teenage boys had previous histories of substance misuse before their admission and were linked to drug counselling services. These behaviours were a “regular if not daily occurrence”.

The boys were leaving the centre throughout the day, returning, and then sometimes leaving again late at night. They would not come back again for hours, despite being called by staff.

The manager and staff reported that the children had returned to the centre on many occasions under the influence of illegal substances and that despite efforts made to manage these behaviours, the children continued to leave the centre and involve themselves in concerning behaviours in the locality.

Room searches took place on five occasions in the rooms of two of the teenagers and one occasion, drug paraphernalia was discovered.

There was evidence of ongoing meetings and risk assessments but Hiqa said they only assessed the level of risk and did not show management strategies outlining staff interventions to ensure the safety of children.

Measures in place to address the risk taking-behaviour outside the centre were foud to be “ineffective and did not reduce the risks to children”. In its summary of findings, the authority said the centre was not run in a way that the children were always safe and protected from themselves.

Today Tusla, the Child and Family Agency noted some of the positive findings of the report including a good system of communication between staff, children and families and access to specialist services.

However it said a number of service improvements in relation to management of risk-taking behaviour have been put in place since the inspection. These include establishing an incident management plan, the development of an action plan and individual plans to manage residents’ needs, improved security and an assessment of training needs.

A review of the centre’s capacity to maintain a safe and effective service has also been initiated and staff have contributed to this.

Read: The High Court has ordered 17 children be detained in special care units>

Read: More than 100 children in foster care have no social worker>

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