ISPCC urges Government to ensure that the 24-hour support of children is prioritised in new term As the Dáil returns today
As the Dáil returns today, the ISPCC is urging the government to progress child protection and welfare issues that need urgent attention.
These include the establishment of a comprehensive, directly accessible 24 hour social work service, adequate resources to support the full implementation of the Children First Act, the development of a National Cyber Safety strategy for children.
The ISPCC is reiterating calls outlined in its 2018 pre-budget submission to increase the allocation of resources to establish a comprehensive, needs-led, directly accessible 24-hour social work service. In addition, the recommendations in the recent audit by Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Dr. Geoffrey Shannon the use of section 12 powers by An Garda Síochána should be implemented in full.
The ISPCC Childline service receives contacts from children needing protection/support daily; over 70 per cent of these calls are received out of hours. The ISPCC has been calling for comprehensive 24-hour supports for over a decade.This is echoed by the findings outlined by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon in his audit that over 70 per cent of emergency removals of children deemed to be at risk by an Garda Síochána took place out of hours. This indicates that children and families need support at these times.
The recent announcement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs regarding the enhancement of 24-hour services is welcomed, including the extension of 24-hour on-call support to foster carers, the extension of the on-call social work service so that a social worker will attend, in person, with the Gardaí where section 12 is invoked and consolidation of the three current regional out of hours services into a single national one via a single Tusla out of hours contact number with additional staff. However, more is need to ensure children are adequately supported and protected.
Interim CEO Caroline O’Sullivan “Children should have adequate levels of protection and support whatever the time of day. This can only be achieved by the provision of comprehensive, seamless 24-hour social work services. This is something that is provided in other similar jurisdictions and children in Ireland deserve no less; but the financial resources must be in place to enable Tusla to do this”.
Now is the time to ensure that we adequately invest in childhood and the government must demonstrate the political will to do so by progressing policies and legislation that seek to strengthen the protection and welfare of all children.