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Children moved from asylum centres after claims of inappropriate contact

A report today said the children were moved before any assessment could take place and this hindered one of the investigations.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

A DAMNING REPORT on child protection and welfare services has found that two children in asylum centres were moved before an assessment had taken place into their allegations of inappropriate contact with an adult at the accommodation.

The report published today by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) found serious deficiencies in the system as regards child welfare.

There are 1,600 children living in direct provision and HIQA said today that there were 209 referrals relating to 229 children in the space of a year.

Common themes for protection concerns were:

  • Physical abuse due to excessive physical chastisement
  • Protection concerns about older children left caring for younger children
  • Children being left alone for significant periods of time
  • Exposure to incidents of domestic violence
  • Proximity of children to unknown adults living on the same site and inappropriate contact by adults towards some children

Source: HIQA

According to the report today, in two cases of alleged inappropriate contact between adult men and children, the alleged perpetrators and children were separated and moved to other accommodation before the child protection and welfare service could complete their assessment.

In Dublin North City, one child who alleged inappropriate contact by an adult man in the accommodation was moved by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) before the assessment could commence.

“The social work team made vigorous attempts to locate the family and ensured there was good co-ordination between social work teams to complete the investigation and ensure no child was at risk,” HIQA said.

However, in another case, the family was moved from Cavan/Monaghan to Louth/Meath before the social work team could commence the assessment. The investigation did not occur due to a significant delay in sharing of information between the relevant areas.

The report also refers to children sustaining accidental injuries with cramped living conditions identified as a contributing factor and the exposure to violence between residents.

In Louth/Meath, there were significant delays in social work interventions. Of particular concern to HIQA was that in 27 out of the 38 cases reviewed, children were not met with or seen by social workers to inform their decision making about the referral even though records indicated concerns about their safety and welfare.

There was one referral about a child threatening suicide where the child was waiting three years for a response from the social work team.

The authority has now made recommendations to the Child and Family Agency Tusla, including an audit to ensure no children are at risk of harm due to outstanding assessments.

In a statement today, Tusla’s Chief Executive Gordon Jeyes said the agency accepts that there are areas which need improvement and had previously identified challenges in Louth/Meath and Laois/Offaly – the two areas particularly targeted in the report.

“Tusla’s Chief Operations Officer is now directly overseeing a rapid improvement programme in both areas. This will involve deploying temporary additional management and practice capacity to deal with any backlog of referrals and to ensure that new referrals are dealt with in an appropriate, proportionate and timely manner.”

Read: Forcing people to pay for their own retirement will ‘put many jobs and businesses at risk’>

Read: One person has been in an asylum centre for 11 years – this is how they live>

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