Close to 3,000 incidents where children in residential care or those working with them injured

There were almost 3,000 incidents last year in which either children in residential care or those working with them were injured, including hundreds of cases in which young people required medical attention.

New data released by Tusla in response to requests made using the Freedom of Information Act shows there was a total of 2,987 incidents recorded in the various residential care centres last year, including 622 in which a young person required first aid, at a minimum.

There were 486 instances in which a young person in care required first aid treatment following an incident, and another 136 cases in which medical attention was provided following a young person in care being hurt in an accident.

Another 75 accidents involving young people were noted where no treatment was required, and 564 incidents in which no treatment was required.

In addition to the 1,261 cases involving injuries to young people in residential care, staff working in the same area were involved in 1,726 recorded incidents in which they sustained injuries, although only 74 of those required first aid treatment.

Of those, 71 occurred in an incident and three in an accident. There were 1,625 incidents where no medical treatment was needed.

The information released by the Child and Family Agency also shows there were 49 cases of children absconding from residential care last year: 32 for less than 24 hours and 17 for more than a day.

It is not known whether the rate of incidents or accidents involving young people and employees in the residential care sector is falling or rising, but when the Irish Examiner previously asked for similar information, the HSE stated that between July 2011 and December 2012 there had been 870 incidents involving 136 centres, of which 308 required the attention of a GP or a visit to hospital.

However, a Tusla representative said that pre-2014 records were maintained by the Health Service Executive, whereas now Tusla is in charge of recordkeeping and different categorisations or criteria may apply.

The most recent showed there were 6,276 children in care at the end of last November, with 325 young people in residential care.

The Tusla Integrated Performance and Activity Report, for Q3 of last year, showed there were 88 private residential centres registered with the agency at the end of September, and 28 voluntary residential centres.

At the end of last August, the absence rate among staff working in residential services hit 9.71% — more than double the overall rate for the agency and the highest level in a year.

The same report shows that there was the equivalent of 761 staff working in the residential care sector — 69 fewer year on year, and the fifth consecutive monthly decrease.

Tusla’s report for November showed the absenteeism rate had fallen to 9.4% by last October.

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