The national child protection charity has welcomed the acceptance by the Child and Family Agency Tusla of the findings of the Ombudsman For Children’s (OCO) report into the failings of the State to provide adequate interventions and supports to the foster carer of Molly*, a child with disabilities in the care of the State.
The ISPCC’s Director of Services Caroline O’Sullivan said: “This report by the OCO demonstrates how essential it is that children’s individual needs are recognised, and that the child protection and health and social care systems support children in all of their needs.
“We welcome the commitment by Tusla to undertake a systemic review of the supports and services being offered to children in their care with a moderate to severe disability. The ISPCC wish to see this review made public without delay and that actions arising from the review are clearly set out and progress on these monitored and made public.
“We welcome also the commitment made by Tusla that they will also identify these children to the HSE to facilitate care planning and joint working for these children.
“The HSE has committed to include vulnerable children in State care in their performance indicators under Progressing Disability Services and to ensure that any assessment procedures consider their specific vulnerability as children in care.
“The ISPCC is pleased that the Ombudsman for Children’s offices is exercising its powers in undertaking investigations of this nature. The Ombudsman’s office has noted the report has implications not just in the case of the child concerned, Molly*, but also for other children with disabilities in the care of the State. It should also act as an impetus for Tusla and the HSE to ensure that co-ordination between these two agencies is organised and more effective, to support the needs of all children in care who have any health or social care needs, whether they have a specific diagnosis of disability or not.
“Children in the care system are by their nature more vulnerable. We know that, in Ireland, children with a disability often require strong advocates, usually their parents, in order to gain access to supports. It is essential that the State ensures children in its care are empowered to reach their potential and provided with the supports they need in order to do so.”