Child services tsar to be appointed

CHILDREN’S Minister Barry Andrews said he hoped to have a new childcare services ‘tsar’ appointed before the end of the year and there was no need for a national audit of foster care services.

Speaking at the opening of a new residential home for young people in the Dublin suburb of Templeogue, Minister Andrews said he “would be hopeful that it would be the new year” before the new national director would be in situ.

“We are making very substantial progress on that, and I hope to be able to give some clear indication as to who we will be taking on,” he said, adding it would be someone from outside the jurisdiction as “we do need a bit of added weight in this area”.

He said another person, also from outside the country, would be appointed to the Child Death Review Panel but only towards the end of the process being carried out by Norah Gibbons of Barnardos and child law expert Geoffrey Shannon.

Despite some continued speculation over the transfer of files relating to children known to the HSE who died, the Minister said: “I understand all the files have been transferred.

“Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons give me to believe that they are satisfied that they will have their work completed by December.”

On the issue of a HIQA report published on Monday highlighting problems with foster care services in parts of Cork city and county, the Minister said: “While the Cork situation wasn’t as bad as it was in north Dublin [the subject of a HIQA report earlier this year], clearly there were a number of deficiencies.”

He said the HSE had already carried out an audit of foster care services around the country and it was clear that in the north Dublin area “serious red flags were already in evidence”.

“HIQA have given me to believe that the vast majority of problems have been uncovered,” he said, adding that while this did not give reason for complacency, “we are making progress.”

His comments were made at the opening of a new Home Again facility in Templeogue, part funded by the HSE, which will house six teenage boys whose foster placements have not worked out.

Director of Care at Home Again John Molloy said many of those using the service typically come from broken homes and may have suffered neglect and abuse before their referral by the HSE.

“Most of the young people would gladly swap this lovely house for a derelict room if they could be back with their families,” he said.


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