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Tusla has deemed 350 unborn children at risk of significant harm in 3 years

Last year, Tusla deemed that 100 unborn children were at risk of significant harm and took steps to protect them.

Image: Shutterstock/aslysun

TUSLA, THE CHILD and Family Agency, has taken steps to provide protection to 350 unborn children deemed to be at risk of significant harm over the past three years.

New figures provided by TUSLA show that it placed 100 unborn children on its Child Protection Notification System (CPNS) between 1 January and 17 December 2018.

The figures, provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that the 100 children placed on Tusla’s CPNS last year followed 143 unborn children in 2017, and 107 unborn children in 2016.

A spokesman for Tusla said today: “Tusla will place an unborn child on the CPNS only where there is an assessed risk of significant harm for the baby when it will be born, and part of this assessment would be level of cooperation of the parents and their understanding of the future baby’s needs and their past ability to care for a baby if this is relevant.”

A child’s name being entered as active on the CPNS is an alert for all services from 9am to 5pm and out of hours services including the hospitals, Gardaí and out-of-hours GPs who can query the status of a vulnerable child for whom they have details and a concern regarding their welfare or possible abuse.

In response to the figures, CEO of children’s charity, Barnardos, Suzanne Connolly said: “In our experience, Tusla do not place a child on the Child Protection Notification System without justifiable reason to be concerned about the child’s welfare and protection.”

Connolly added: “Barnardos provides family support services in this area and believes all parents deserve the support they need for a safe and healthy pregnancy, and all children deserve a good start in life.

She said: “We have had experience of working with parents, referred by Tusla, while their unborn child is on the CPNS and after the child is born. We provided the family support they needed until such time as they could be removed from the register – this being the ultimate goal for services working in this area.

She said: “A reduction in the numbers of children on the register is likely to mean that the family have been given and have the capacity to engage in family support services.

Connolly stated: “Effective engagement with services can mean that the child’s name is then taken off the register as the parenting capacity is no longer a cause for concern and the child is no longer considered to be at risk. Every case has to be looked at individually to ensure appropriate tailored support is offered.

Connolly added: “Barnardos believes that an increase in the number of wraparound family support services, delivered promptly and at the right time, may lead to fewer children being placed on the register and will certainly lead to fewer children remaining on it.”

At the end of last October, Tusla had a total of 1,304 children on its Child Protection Notification System, and 97.4% of those children had an appointed social worker.

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Gordon Deegan

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