Child protection investigation a very serious matter

The decision by Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan to launch an investigation into the implementation of Child Protection Guidelines must be treated as a very serious matter indeed.

It must be a cause of major concern that Ms Logan feels that she has no option but to take this course of action. It is of particular worry that there seems to be some considerable weight of information, opinion and correspondence being brought to Ms Logan’s attention indicating that all is not well.

Once again, the operation of the Health Service Executive, the statutory agency responsible for the implementation of the Children First Guidelines, and the Department of Health and Children are to come under the microscope. References by Ms Logan to non-implementation by the HSE of the guidelines in some instances are alarming, and all the agencies involved must give every possible support to the Ombudsman in her investigation.

Ms Logan seems concerned that that these guidelines are being breached. If this turns out to be the case there is a strong argument that the guidelines should be established on a statutory basis.

Today’s development paints a bleak picture of the extent to which children are being failed by this government. We already know that social work teams are considerably under-resourced, and thanks to the HSE staff recruitment embargos and cutbacks just about every one of them is operating well below full staff complement. Local child protection teams simply don’t have the resources they require to make early interventions, in order to prevent a problem in a family escalating into a crisis.

When you consider the massive backlogs in many areas of the country, the lack of an out-of-hours service, and the lack of specialist residential places for children with challenging behaviour, the scale of the problem is massive.

More :: Read the statement from the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan
More :: Ombudsman to investigate child protection (Irish Times)