Six children in foreign care for years

File photo.

Six children have been in out-of-state care placements for at least five years, including one young person who has spent 10 years overseas.

Details provided by Tusla under freedom of information also shows Tusla’s bill to maintain the current 21 out-of-state placements is almost €30,000 weekly.

It comes as the Child and Family Agency gave an assurance that Brexit should not disrupt current placements in UK facilities. The issue was highlighted last week by Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

FoI material, relating to foster, residential and secure care, shows five new out-of-state placements began this year, bringing the overall total to 21.

Children placed in out-of-state placements are regulated under special care and the Child Care Act, but the practice has been criticised, including by the Government-appointed special rapporteur Geoffrey Shannon.

One child has been overseas since 2008, understood to be foster care, another since 2010 and two have been in out-of-state placements since 2011. Three others are in placements since 2012, 2013 and 2014,.

Four placements, costing between €3,386 and €7,000 a week, date from 2012 to 2015 and are understood to be secure care placements.

Fifteen of the out-of-state placements are in the UK, with four in Finland and one in Spain. Last week Mr Justice Kelly raised concerns, referencing the HSE, as to what arrangements are in place after the UK leaves the EU. In a statement, the Child and Family Agency said: “Tusla does not foresee any unsolvable issues relating to continuing with out-of-state placements as a result of a possible British exit at this time.”

Weekly costs per placement range from €350 up to €7,000.

There are a small number of children who require specialised care as a result of their life experiences. On rare occasions, the level of specialised intervention required is not available in Ireland,” said Tusla.

“All children in out-of-state placements remain in the care of Tusla and, to ensure their safety and wellbeing, we receive regular, detailed reports on the child.

“The children have regular visits from their allocated social worker, an up-to-date written care plan, access to their families and/or carers where this is in their best interests and aftercare planning with an allocated aftercare worker.

“They also generally have a court-appointed guardian ad litem to represent their wishes and interests in court proceedings.

“Tusla’s ultimate goal is to see all children in such placements recover sufficiently to be safely discharged and return home to Ireland.”

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