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Economic upturn leaving children behind – Ombudsman for Children’s Office Annual Report 2018

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office Annual Report 2018 will be launched by young person Margaret Ward and the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon at The Alex Hotel on Tuesday 28th May. Speaking ahead of the launch the Ombudsman for Children outlined his concern that despite the improvement in Ireland’s economy our most vulnerable children remain seriously at risk.

Niall said:

“It is increasingly frustrating to see that although more people are at work, and the Government has more money, our most vulnerable children are not benefiting. Terms like ‘Inclusiveness’ and ‘Equality’ are in regular use but they do not apply to all children in all circumstances.

“In 2018 the Ombudsman for Children’s Office received 1,622 complaints on behalf of children. Although this is a slight drop from 2017, the numbers coming to my Office remain consistent and the same types of issues are being raised again and again.

“As Ombudsman for Children I see the efforts being made by public bodies and by those working on the ground to deliver for children under their remit. However, while working agreements and commitments to collaborate are one thing, it is time to see Government Departments and public bodies in action consistently, working together for vulnerable children.

“Access to education for those with additional needs and bullying are still problems for children, and we continue to see complaints about education for children who are homeless or children who are in residential mental health facilities.

“There has been an increase this year in Health complaints relating to long or non-moving waiting lists, and complaints made on behalf of children with mental health issues or those with disabilities.

“It pains me to say that we are still receiving complaints about suitable housing for children, this includes emergency accommodation, accommodation for children with disabilities and medical priority allocation.

“In 2018 we saw an increase in the number of children complaining directly to us which is very positive and due to the Office’s increased outreach activity. I feel strongly that it is essential all Public Bodies and Government Departments listen to young people and hear their views. I am therefore delighted to be joined by Margaret Ward who will launch the Annual Report with me and share her views as a young Traveller.

“My team worked hard in 2018 to highlight specific issues affecting children by commenting on upcoming legislation and policy, working with public bodies to help them improve their complaints processes and publishing reports on key issues including mental health and services provided to children with disabilities in the care of the State. We have grown and developed out rights awareness education offering, we have consulted with children and we have hosted events amplifying children’s voices.

“I can see that many public bodies and agencies are working extremely hard to improve the lives of children in Ireland. However, as I enter my fifth year as Ombudsman for Children, I feel compelled to express my concern that an opportunity is being missed. Now that the economy is stable, it is time to address long standing, historical issues affecting our most vulnerable children. We need to provide children with disabilities, children who are homeless, children with mental health issues, Traveller and Roma children and children living in Direct Provision with the supports and services they deserve and are entitled to. Now is the time to plan for, and build, a robust and well-functioning system that provides for Ireland’s children.”

ENDS

 

Note to Editors

  • Annual Report 2018 includes the following case studies based on complaints received by the Office:
    • Access to a full time SNA for Alex- P.14
    • Nursing support to help Louise go to school – P.14
    • Jenny not informed about changes to her aftercare plan – P.21
    • Amy diagnosed with autism but cannot access services – P.25
    • No home support for Daniel – P.25
    • A new wheelchair for Emily – P.26
    • Kate place in adult psychiatric ward – P.26
    • Securing a suitable home for Cathy – P.34
  • The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is an independent statutory body with an overall mandate to promote the rights and welfare of children under the age of 18 living in Ireland.
  • Among the Ombudsman for Children’s core statutory functions is the independent and impartial investigation of complaints made by, or on behalf of, children in relation to public bodies, as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.