Ten Irish children remained in a care placement overseas for Christmas, according to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.
The news comes as Tusla claimed it was too early to say whether or not it had achieved its stated aim of reducing the number of out-of-state placements in 2015.
All 10 Irish children in an out-of-state care placement were in facilities in Britain and Tusla said that the typical cost for maintaining those placements was in the order of €6,000 a week.
It said the overall weekly cost for the 10 children still in care placements overseas last week was about €62,000.
The number of Irish adolescents in overseas placements is a very small proportion of the overall number of children in the care system, but the costs associated with the placements are considerable.
In the past year, Irish children have also been put in placements in Nebraska in the United States, and in Sweden. The placements are facilitated by the High Court here.
A Tusla spokesperson said: “Each child is placed in a care setting appropriate to his/her needs in accordance with his/her care plan.
“In a small number of cases, where a child requires highly specialised care, or where in the given circumstances it is in the best interests of the child, it may be necessary to obtain a placement in a specialist out-of- state facility.
“Children are placed out of state in order to access highly specialised care placements, currently unavailable in Ireland.
“These include specialist secure forensic mental health services and therapeutic residential services addressing specific needs identified in the child’s care plan.”
The practice of overseas placements has been criticised in recent years, not least by the Government- appointed special rapporteur on child law, Geoffrey Shannon.
Tusla has signalled its intention to reduce the number of overseas placements but has stressed that in some cases the services are not available here and there is little option but to avail of services provided in another country.
Families of some children placed overseas have outlined the difficulties of maintaining regular contact with their child when they are in another jurisdiction and concerns over their reintegration into Irish society on their eventual return.
The Tusla spokesperson said: “When a child is placed abroad, the local Tusla team link in with the service and child, with regular visits and updates to the care plan. Planning for the transition out of care is part of the care planning process for each child in care.
“On discharge from a placement the aftercare plan will be implemented by the social worker/aftercare worker in accordance with the care plan.
“The majority return to Ireland once their specific intervention has concluded. In the cases where they are in relative foster care or their foster carers have moved to another country the children can end up residing in that country as they have significant ties with the carers.”
A Tusla spokesperson said the agency had aimed throughout 2015 to decrease the amount on out-of-state care placements but it was too early to say whether this had been successful until the final tally was calculated.
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