Tusla has launched its new Child and Youth Participation Strategy for 2019-2023, as part of its “ongoing commitment to the participation of children, young people and parents in the decisions that affect their lives”. That appears to be a worthwhile endeavour but how will it work in practice? Will children or their parents or guardians be able, for instance, to influence Tusla’s retention of data?
Judging from the agency’s response to the parents of a seven-year-old boy against whom an unfounded allegation of sex abuse was made, that is doubtful. As the report by the Irish Examiner’s Michael Clifford revealed on March 30, Tusla’s refusal to delete the file “destroyed” the lives of the family, forcing the parents to remove their child from school, the local GAA club and even the church they attended.
Launching the strategy, Pat Smyth, Interim CEO of Tusla, outlined its commitment to nurturing participation, declaring that this “can only be achieved through engagement in dialogue, in an interactive, ongoing and inclusive process”.
Let us hope the strategy does what it says on the tin.