herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

HIQA concern over levels of child referrals living in direct provision

Direct Provision is compounding asylum seekers' problems as it leaves them with low self-worth, little money, usually no family and they are easily targeted and manipulated, a report warns
Direct Provision is compounding asylum seekers' problems as it leaves them with low self-worth, little money, usually no family and they are easily targeted and manipulated, a report warns

The health watchdog has raised concerns in a damning report over the number of children living in direct provision who are being referred to social services.

HIQA found that some 229 children were referred to the Child and Family Agency in a single year, equating to roughly 14pc.

The report stated that the number was a "significantly higher" referral rate in comparison to the 1.4pc for the general public.

There were approximately 1,600 children living in direct provision in Ireland between August 2013 and August 2014, with 209 referrals of child protection and welfare concerns relating to 229 children in that period.

Of those referrals, 51pc related to child welfare issues while a further 49pc were in relation to child protection concerns.

Mary Dunnion, director of regulation of HIQA, said the authority "has grave concerns about the high number of children living in direct provision centres who have been referred to The Child and Family Agency".

Some of the more common themes of welfare referral included physical or mental health issues for children and parents, isolation and lack of clothes and toys.

In one area, Laois/Offaly, there was one referral about a child threatening suicide where it took three years for a social work team to respond.

HIQA carried out inspections in Louth/Meath, the Midlands, Sligo, Leitrim, west Cavan and Dublin north city.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, said the Hiqa report shows how young people are "suffering" as a result of the system they're in.

expose

"Children can't be left suffering in this system. Simple reassurances will not be enough to counter these shocking findings," Ms Ward said.

"Nothing less than a robust child protection and welfare response with proper independent inspections will be acceptable here."

The report is the first of its kind to examine the services provided by Tulsa and expose the lack of quality for children living in direct provision.

Gordon Jeyes, chief executive of Tusla, said the Child and Family Agency was in the process of deploying additional managers and staff to deal with the backlog of refferals.

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