The Ombudsman for Children has criticised the HSE and the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, for implementing “virtually none” of the recommendations made in a HSE-commissioned review of child sexual abuse services — five years ago.
Niall Muldoon described the Mott MacDonald-written National Review of Sexual Abuse Services for Children and Young People as having “a real vision”.
“It’s a real dark shadow on them [to not have implemented this], they have only been tinkering around the edges,” Dr Muldoon told the Irish Examiner. “Even if we do it five years later, we have to do it. We can’t afford to wait another five years.”
The report, published in June 2011, acknowledged that there were “examples of good practice”around the country but much is “driven through personal networks and contacts as opposed to developed and appropriate processes and protocols”.
The report’s authors said children should have equal access to a multi-disciplinary team of professionals regardless of time of day or geography. They also urged faster initial assessments by social workers and the putting in place of a “consistent and equitable” medical service across the country.
They also criticised communication in the sector, inconsistency in therapy services, referral routes and wait times for therapy.
It said fundamental concerns must be addressed to ensure “there is improved, consistent and standardised provision of sexual abuse and sexual assault services nationally ”.
Tusla took over as the lead agency in the area when it was set up two years ago. Last year, the Department of Children announced that an out-of-hours social work service would be put in place. It also stated its commitment to joint interviewing with gardaí.
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