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Number of complaints made to the Ombudsman for Children up 16%

Child protection continues to be a problem in Ireland said Emily Logan.

Image: Shutterstock

THE NUMBER OF complaints to the Ombudsman for Children rose by 16% last year.

Launching the 2013 annual report today, the outgoing Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan, who has served in the role for ten years, said her office dealt with 1,677 complaints over the course of the year.

A total of 1,591 were received in 2013, with 86 carried over form 2012.

In 2012, a total of 1,465 were received. A total of 75% of the complaints made in 2013 were by parents

Complaints about education accounted for the largest amount of complaints, at 43%, while family support, care and protection accounted for 26% of complaints made to her office. This was a decrease of 2% in comparison to last year. Health was the next sector which accounted for 9% of complaints made.

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour

The nature of the complaints surrounding education addressed issues such as the handling of allegations on inappropriate behaviour, special needs resources and the handling of bullying as well as issues surrounding the management and policy decisions in schools. Suspensions and enrolment complaints were also received.

Ombudsman for Children - Final Report. Pi Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan presenting her final annual report. Source: Sam Boal

Speaking at the launch today, Logan said that while they receive complaints about “inappropriate behaviour” in relation to teachers, the office is precluded from dealing with these situations, but added that as there is no other redress for complaints, which she said is “very concerning” to the Office, adding that Boards of Management of schools need help and support in how best to address these issues.

Families in crisis

Speaking about family supports she said that so often families end up in crisis, stating that the HSE needs to ensure more family supports and preventative measures are put in place.

She said that it is so often the case that families are struggling and then they reach crisis point at which the HSE and child welfare services become disproportionally involved, adding “had they have been in the first place at a preventative stage family would have done much better”.

Child protection continues to be a problem in Ireland,” said Logan.

Outsourcing

She said children in care need to be kept in mind, adding that residential care services for children cost in the region of €50 million  and they are outsourced to outside services.

“If the HSE are outsourcing services, then they need to be accountable to make sure the private  provider is providing a good and adequate service to those children,” said Logan.

She also added that more supports need to be put in place to support social workers in their work, saying that they often have to take on huge case loads at a young age.

Originally posted 14:00

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