There were 3,422 incidents last year in which children in care or their carers were injured. These included 784 cases where medical attention or first aid was required.
More injuries to both young people in care and to staff occurred because of incidents, rather than accidents, but children are more likely to come to harm than their carers.
The data, released under Freedom of Information, is split into three categories: special care, in which a small number of young people are placed each year; Tusla or voluntary placements; and private centres.
The information was recorded on the Child and Family Agency’s Significant Event Notification database, although Tusla stressed that it recorded the number of incidents, rather than the number of people involved.
It categorised whether the injuries caused to young people or staff were as a result of an accident or an incident, and whether no treatment was required or referenced, or whether first aid or medical treatment was provided.
So while there were 1,663 staff-injury incidents in private centres and which did not require treatment, there were 54 staff-injury incidents in the same setting which did. Some 251 injury incidents involving young people in private centres required first aid or medical treatment. That was the single highest area of injury to young people in care, with another 66 children in private centres injured as a result of accidents last year.
In Tusla/voluntary centres, 228 young people were injured due to an incident that required medical treatment, with another 100 injuries, caused to young people in accidents, requiring treatment.
In special care centres, the numbers were much lower: seven accidents to young people resulting in medical treatment, and 31 incidents involving young people where medical attention was required.
Fórsa, the trade union for public service staff, said its members working in centres for young people in care had not raised any specific concerns about their work there, whereas there have been high-profile incidents in the youth justice area, and particularly regarding the Oberstown campus.
Tusla said it did not gather details of the nature of the injuries. There are 26 voluntary residential centres and 81 private residential care centres. The figures do not relate to foster-care placements.
A spokesperson for Tusla said: “The Child and Family Agency recognises that working in a residential care setting can be challenging. Staff working in residential care settings are provided with training to equip them with a range of measures to manage potentially challenging behaviour. On occasion, incidents do occur.”
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