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HSE support provided to boy was "not adequate" and had adverse effect on him

The Ombudsman for Children made recommendations on a report into the situation.

Family
Family

AN INVESTIGATION BY the Children’s Ombudsman found that the HSE “circumvented their very real responsibility” to a young boy by not receiving him into care.

It said that if the boy had been placed into care, he could have been placed with his aunt, and 1995 regulations would have applied to the situation.

Tusla

The finding was made during a report into the investigation of a complaint regarding a decision by the HSE (now Tusla, the Child and Family Agency), to cease a Section 10 payment to a family.

The complaint was submitted by the aunt of the young person (A), about the fact the HSE had stopped financial support being provided to assist her in caring for him.

She said she has been caring for her nephew since 2003, and from September 2006 – November 2008, she was receiving a payment made by the HSE through the Child Care Act and also the Orphan’s Allowance.

The HSE had stopped the Child Care Act payment on the basis of a contention by the Social Work department that the aunt did not inform them that she was receiving both payments.

The investigation looked at the level of support provided to the boy since he moved to live full-time with his aunt in 2003.

Findings regarding the HSE

The Ombudsman said that there is a duty on the HSE under both domestic and international law in connection with the protection of children, and so it is “of the view that the failure to comply with these principles has led to an adverse effect” on the boy.

The report said that there were concerns about A’s safety whilst cared for by his mother and family care arrangements were negotiated by the HSE with his mother and extended family.

Whilst voluntary care was considered, the mother did not consent and all involved – the HSE and the family – were in agreement about the need for a family placement for A. The investigation considered whether the plan made for A’s care was a family agreement or private care arrangement or an arrangement mediated by and at the request of the Social Work Department and whether there was an onus on the HSE to provide support to assist him following agreement on the family placement.

The Ombudsman’s office said it believed that the placement with the aunt went beyond that of a private arrangement between the family members.

“In this instance the HSE facilitated the arrangement as part of a safety measure. Thus it cannot be said to be a private care arrangement”

It also of the view that the HSE “considered this a private care arrangement beyond a time when it was reasonable to do so”.

“Based on the information provided, this Office is of the view that the support provided
to A by the HSE was not adequate,” said the Ombudsman.

“There was limited support provided to A following his placement with his aunt. The case was closed without his legal situation being resolved although this was a recommendation by the Social Work Department”.

Recommendations

The Ombudsman said the HSE (now Tusla) should provide financial assistance to A and his aunt.

“The investigation has raises serious concerns more generally in relation to the use of informal family/private care arrangements by Tusla in the context of child protection concerns,” said the Ombudsman.

In addition, it said there should be clear and transparent processes for dealing with Section 10 applications.

Tusla said that it fully accepts the recommendations and will begin implementing them as a matter of priority.

The full case and findings can be read on the Ombudsman for Children’s website.

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