Child still not classed as missing after eight months

A CHILD in the care of the State was not classed as a missing person eight months after his disappearance, even though those in charge of his welfare had no idea where he was.

The discovery was made by HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) inspectors during its first independent inspections of the State’s four detention schools.

Inspectors at one centre, Trinity House, found a young person had been absent for eight months.

“Inspectors were told that the whereabouts of the young person was completely unknown and were concerned that the young person’s status had not changed to that of missing person,” the HIQA report said.

A statement from the Department of Justice said the gardaí had been notified when the young person in question failed to return from home leave. The statement said the boy had since been located.

HIQA, meanwhile, has only seven inspectors to monitor 80 residential care centres, four detention schools and all fostering services.

The authority also had concerns the schools were unable to produce evidence that all staff were fully vetted – with Garda clearance and three written references.

Inspectors discovered:

* Of 61 staff at Oberstown Girls’ Detention School, just 10 were properly vetted.

* At Trinity House, 47 Garda clearances were received after staff began employment.

* At Oberstown Boys’ Detention School there was no evidence on file of Garda clearance for 21 of the 75 staff.

The department said an audit of all files is now being carried out to ensure there is confirmation of Garda vetting on each individual’s file. It also said in “most” of the cases referred to by HIQA, staff had been recruited prior to the introduction by the Department of Health in November 1994 of a standard procedure for the vetting of staff.


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