Ombudsman for Children’s Office housing complaint shows children’s best interests not considered

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), today (Monday) published an investigation about children who were homeless for two years after leaving a domestic violence situation. This investigation revealed that decisions made based on incorrect information and the delay in developing national quality standards negatively impacted on the children involved. It also showed that the process the family had to go through to access housing was not in the children’s best interests.

Commenting on this case, OCO Director of Investigations, Nuala Ward said:

“In 2016 the OCO saw an increase in the number of housing complaints from 4% to 5%. This particular complaint highlights some of the issues that we are seeing more frequently; housing policy and practices which do not consider children’s best interests.

“In this case a family became homeless after they took the brave step of leaving a domestic violence situation. They were initially placed in a women’s refuge before living in homeless accommodation including B&Bs and hotels, which were not at all suitable for normal family living. They slept on blood stained mattresses, they were crammed into rooms with four sets of bunkbeds, they were placed in accommodation where they were exposed to the mother’s ex-partner or his friends, and like every other family living in B&Bs and hotels, the mother could not cook for her children or allow them to have friends over.

“Mistakes were made by Fingal County Council and while we cannot say for sure that these error delayed the family being housed, it did cause stress for the family and was not in the children’s best interests.

“This family was forced to go through an unnecessarily bureaucratic process to ensure their housing application could progress separately from the mother’s ex-partner who she had separated from due to domestic abuse. This process was a huge burden on the family, and again did not take into consideration the best interests of the children.

“We also found that the delay in developing national standards had a severely negative impact on the day to day lives of the children involved in this case. This is an issue that is affecting all families living in homeless accommodation.

“This is just one of the many complaints received by the OCO in relation to housing but it raises some real issues about the complete lack of consideration for children in housing policy and practises.”

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children added:

“The housing complaints we receive show clearly that children are not seen as individuals who have rights that must be respected. Children are merely an add on to parents or guardians in housing policy and legislation.

“The issue of children living in homeless accommodation is not going away, in fact it is worse than ever with 2,777 children homeless as of the end of May. Children cannot be ignored in housing policy anymore.

“We must also face the reality of emergency accommodation. One year on from the launch of Rebuilding Ireland this issue has not been resolved and now family hubs are being introduced. Standards of accommodation must be provided to all families in emergency accommodation. These standards need to be monitored, implemented, and they should carry sanctions for non-compliance.

“The Government must re-double its effort to generate sufficient suitable social housing, as promised within the Rebuilding Ireland programme, so that emergency accommodation is just that – only used in an emergency and for the shortest possible length of time.”

ENDS

Contact:
Aoife Carragher
01 8656806

An tOmbudsman do Leanaí
An Dr Niall Muldoon

Léirítear le gearán Oifig an Ombudsman do Leanaí faoin tithíocht nár breithníodh dea-leasanna na leanaí.

Léirítear le himscrúdú OCO go bhfuil an mhoill chun caighdeáin cháilíochta náisiúnta a fhorbairt ag dul i bhfeidhm go diúltach ar leanaí

D’fhoilsigh Oifig an Ombudsman do Leanaí (OCO), imscrúdú inniu (Dé Luain) faoi leanaí a bhí gan dídean ar feadh dhá bhliain tar éis dóibh suíomh foréigin theaghlaigh a fhágáil. Nochtadh san imscrúdú sin go dtéann cinntí a dhéantar bunaithe ar eolas mícheart agus an mhoill le forbairt caighdeán cáilíochta náisiúnta i bhfeidhm go diúltach ar na leanaí i gceist. Léiríodh ann freisin nár chun dea-leas na leanaí é an próiseas arbh éigean don teaghlach dul tríd chun rochtain a fháil ar an tithíocht.

Agus é ag trácht ar an gcás seo, dúirt Nuala Ward, Stiúrthóir Imscrúduithe OCO:

“Chonaic an OCO méadú sa bhliain 2016 ar líon na ngearán tithíochta ó 4% chuig 5%. Léirítear leis an ngearán seo roinnt de na saincheisteanna a fheicimid níos minice; beartas agus cleachtais tithíochta nach mbreithnítear dea-leasanna na leanaí iontu.

“D’éirigh teaghlach gan dídean sa chás seo tar éis dóibh céim chróga a ghlacadh chun cás foréigin theaghlaigh a fhágáil. Cuireadh iad i dtearmann ban ar dtús sular chónaigh siad i gcóiríocht do dhaoine gan dídean lenar áiríodh B&Bí agus óstáin, nach raibh oiriúnach do ghnáthchónaí teaghlaigh. Chodail siad ar thochtaí fuil-smálta, bhí siad sa mhullach ar a chéile i seomraí le ceithre leaba bhuinc iontu, cuireadh iad i gcóiríocht mar ar nochtadh iad d’iarpháirtí na máthar nó dá chairde, agus cosúil le gach teaghlach eile ag cónaí i B&Bí agus in óstáin, níorbh fhéidir leis an máthair cócaireacht dá leanaí ná ligean dóibh chun cairde a thabhairt anonn leo.

“Rinne Comhairle Contae Fhine Gall meancóga le tarchur mícheart an teaghlaigh seo chuig Aonad na bPobal Nua, in ainneoin an chaoi ar chóir dóibh a threorú chuig an tSeirbhís Socrúcháin Lárnach arna bainistiú ag Feidhmeannas Réigiúnach Bhaile Átha Cliath in aghaidh Easpa Dídine (DRHE). Cé nach féidir linn a rá go cinnte gur chuir an mheancóg sin moill le cóiríocht a fháil don teaghlach, ba chúis don strus í, agus níor chun dea-leas na leanaí í.

“Cuireadh iallach ar an teaghlach seo chun dul trí phróiseas maorlathach neamhriachtanach chun a chinntiú go bhféadfaí a n-iarratas tithíochta a chur ar aghaidh ar leithligh ó cheann iarpháirtí na máthar, óna bhfuair sí idirscaradh de bharr mí-úsáide teaghlaigh. B’ualach mór a bhí sa phróiseas sin ar an teaghlach, agus níor glacadh dea-leasanna na leanaí san áireamh leis in athuair.

“Fuaireamar amach freisin go ndeachaigh an mhoill chun caighdeáin náisiúnta a fhorbairt i bhfeidhm go rídhiúltach ar ghnáthshaol laethúil na leanaí sa chás sin. Is saincheist í seo a théann i bhfeidhm ar gach uile theaghlach a chónaíonn i gcóiríocht do dhaoine gan dídean.

“Níl anseo ach ceann amháin den iliomad gearán a fuair an OCO i ndáil leis an tithíocht, ach tagann roinnt saincheisteanna réadúla aníos leis faoin easpa iomlán de mhachnamh i gcomhair leanaí sa bheartas agus sa chleachtas tithíochta.”

Dúirt An Dr. Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman do Leanaí leis:

“Léirítear go soiléir sna gearáin tithíochta a fhaighimid nach bhfeictear leanaí mar dhaoine aonair le cearta nach foláir urraim a léiriú dóibh. Níl sna leanaí ach breisiú do thuismitheoirí nó caomhnóirí i mbeartas agus i reachtaíocht na tithíochta.

“Ní rachaidh saincheist na leanaí a chónaíonn i gcóiríocht easpa dídine ar shiúl, is amhlaidh ar measa í ná riamh le 2,777 leanbh gan dídean amhail deireadh mhí na Bealtaine. Ní féidir neamhaird a thabhairt do leanaí sa bheartas tithíochta a thuilleadh.

“Ní mór dúinn aghaidh a thabhairt freisin ar fhírinne na cóiríochta éigeandála. Níor réitíodh an tsaincheist seo bliain amháin tar éis seoladh Atógáil Éireann, agus táthar ag tabhairt isteach mol do theaghlaigh anois. Caithfear caighdeáin chóiríochta a sholáthar do gach teaghlach i gcóiríocht éigeandála. Caithfear monatóireacht agus forfheidhmiú a dhéanamh ar na caighdeáin úd, agus ba cheart go mbainfeadh smachtbhannaí leo do neamh-chomhlíonadh.

“Caithfidh an Rialtas a chuid iarrachtaí a threisiú chun dóthain tithíochta sóisialta a ghiniúint, faoi mar a gealladh faoi chlár Atógáil Éireann ionas nach mbíonn sa chóiríocht éigeandála ach an cur síos sin amháin – nach mbaintear leas aisti ach amháin i gcás éigeandála agus don achar ama is giorra agus is féidir.”

CRÍOCH

Teagmháil:
Aoife Carragher
01 8656806