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Children's Ombudsman calls for consideration of children with special needs in housing policy
- Poor housing, long delays, lack of communication rank highly in complaints to OCO
- OCO report makes recommendations, urges action from local authorities and Government
Download report here
Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan, has today (Monday) published a review of complaints submitted to her Office on behalf of children with special needs regarding the provision of housing. Contained in this report are recommendations for action from Government and local authorities to significantly improve housing provision for children with special needs.
This report was commenced following an increase in the number of complaints to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO). The report’s findings are also informed by children with special needs and their parents who took part in a recent consultation exercise undertaken by the OCO.
The issues highlighted in this report include difficulties accessing suitable housing due to how the requirements of children with special needs are assessed and prioritised, delays in the provision of accommodation, the lack of suitable housing to meet specific needs, and poor consultation and communication between local authorities and children and their families.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Emily Logan said:
“From the complaints received by my Office, it is clear that some families experience difficulties when seeking housing from local authorities for a child with special needs.
“In some cases, local authorities offer housing which is not appropriate for the child in question, leaving parents concerned that a refusal to accept the offer could result in them being penalised on the housing list. There are also cases where children’s medical needs have not been prioritised appropriately by local authorities. In addition, parents have raised concerns with my Office regarding the level of communication that they have with local authorities when seeking appropriate accommodation for their children.
“I am particularly concerned that it can take a long time for suitable accommodation to be found for a child with special needs, or for necessary adaptations to be made to bring a house up to standard. Waiting for years for a suitable house, and living for a large proportion of your childhood in sub-standard accommodation, should not be the experience for any child with special needs.
“I am making six recommendations in the report published today. These include:
- Children with special needs should be central to the process of allocating housing to their family.
- Local authorities should improve consultation and engagement with children with special needs and their families.
- Local authorities should adopt a long-term approach to meeting the housing requirements of children with special needs.
- Most importantly, the housing difficulties of children with special needs should be resolved by local authorities – in every case – as quickly as possible.
“All local authorities should implement these recommendations and ensure that when the family of a child with special needs makes an application for housing the particular requirements of that child are central to the entire application.
A full copy of this report has been submitted to the Minister for Environment, is being sent to every local authority in the country, and can be downloaded here.
Note to Editors:
- The OCO is mandated to examine complaints regarding the administrative actions of public bodies, and between January 2005 and the end of August 2009 a total of 140 complaints about children’s housing situations were made to the OCO, 62 of which were made on behalf of children with special needs. This figure (140) represents 4.5% of the total number of complaints received by the office over this time period.
- Of the complaints received, 52 families, through the guidance of the OCO, found an early resolution of their complaint. 29 complaints were further investigated by the OCO as no early resolution was found. These 29 complaints related to 57 children with special needs.
For more information contact Nikki Gallagher at 01-8656803 or 086-8163246