Inspectors may stay overnight in child residential care centres

INSPECTORS checking on residential centres for children in the care system may be required to stay overnight as part of their review process.

As part of a number of recommendations on how to improve the inspection process, young adults who have recently left the care system may also be asked to help with review of residential facilities.

The recommendations are included in a new report published yesterday by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on the views of young people of the current system of inspections.

The report, carried out in collaboration with the Irish Association of Young People in Care (IAYPIC), interviewed 22 children aged from 10 years to 19 in different facilities around the country.

Those who responded said they were generally happy with the inspections, with 68% of those interviewed stating they understood why the inspectors were visiting their unit.

Most, however, believed the main reasons for the visit was to inspect the accommodation or check on staff, rather than their welfare.

Very few children expressed any concerns about the inspectors being in their centre and some found it to be a relief.

In addition, 86% said they had spoken directly to the inspectors and half said they had filled out a questionnaire, while there was general consensus that one male and one female inspector offered the right balance.

However, 82% admitted they had not known how to contact the inspectors after the site visit, while the majority of those involved in the study said they had not received any feedback.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the report, Inspection Manager of Children’s Services in HIQA, Kieran O’Connor, said that a new practice of writing down what children had said in inspections and then reading it back to them for verification had been a huge success in making children feel their views were being listened to.

He said one of the sadder aspects of the Ryan Report had been that children had not been listened to, whereas noting their feedback had been “very moving”.

He said the main points of focus during inspections were the care planning and child safety in any particular centre.

Dr Marion Witton, Chief Inspector of Social Services in HIQA, said there was value in the idea of inspectors spending an overnight stay in centres.

“We would not rule out considering it,” she said, although a HIQA spokesman conceded that there were practical and legal issues that would need to be reviewed before any such system was introduced.


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