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State must do more to protect children and support families
The State is falling short of its duty to protect vulnerable children and to support families with additional needs, according to the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, today (Tuesday) at the launch of her 3rd Annual Report.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office saw a 43% increase in demand for its services with 742 complaints coming to the Office in 2007. For the first time since the Office was established, Education is the dominant complaint category representing 44% complaints to the OCO. In the vast majority of cases the complaints are against the Department of Education not schools, and are related to issues such as support for children with special needs, procedures, policies and school transport.
Of the 28% of complaints which fall into the Health category, the majority centre on access and adequacy of HSE services such as speech and language and occupational therapy, child protection and decisions regarding children in care. Youth Justice accounts for 8% of complaints, and for the first time the Children’s Ombudsman heard from young people in detention about the nature and type of their placements.
Emily Logan said: “75% of complaints came from family and extended family members, all of whom express frustration at the difficulty they have accessing adequate services for their children. In some cases families are dealing with a wide range of state agencies and complicated application processes while trying, as primary carers, to ensure basic services for their children. It is unacceptable that this additional burden is placed on already stressed families who find themselves in vulnerable situations.
“During this reporting period a number of cases have been brought to the attention of my Office by both parents and professionals in relation to inappropriate behaviour towards children. Inappropriate behaviour can include verbally abusive conduct, hitting and/or physical abuse. In such cases children are often invisible, their voices are not respected and there is no obligation for their best interests to be considered. The State must address these deficits in how children are treated. A National Code of Practice that develops interagency cooperation for children would support public bodies to ensure that the safety of the children meets the highest standards.”
Notes to Editors:
- Other areas that the Ombudsman for Children has chosen to highlight in this annual report include: themes which have arisen through the complaints and investigation function; policy work relating to child death review mechanisms, the inspection of centres for children with intellectual disability and children in detention; the international work of the Office; and the first judicial review of the Office.
- The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is the independent statutory body with responsibility for promoting children’s rights and welfare in Ireland. The Office was established under primary legislation, the Ombudsman for Children’s Act, 2002. Emily Logan is Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children. She was appointed to the post by President McAleese following an open recruitment process. The Ombudsman for Children accounts directly to the Oireachtas.
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