Nine deaths ‘not linked’ to Tusla services

The deaths of nine young people, who had been in the Irish care system, were not as a result of the services they had received.

The National Review Panel (NRP) yesterday published its reports into the deaths.

All of the children and young people were known to Tusla, the child and family agency, as they had all been in receipt of care at one time, or another, in their lives.

The reports published by the NRP found Tusla had no responsibility whatsoever in any of the deaths of the young people.

However, several recommendations were made in relation to the provision of mental health services for young people in care.

“While Tusla has no jurisdiction over the provision of mental health services, this composite review has highlighted some difficulties, particularly for young people suffering from diagnosed mental illness who are about to enter, or have entered aftercare.

“These include the dearth of suitable accommodation, inconsistent access to mental health services and limited treatment options. It is recommended that Tusla, through the Children First Interdepartmental Committee or another suitable channel, continue to press for a resolution of these matters,” said Dr Helen Buckley who chaired the NRP.

The reports also listed key learnings, one of which related to the adequate assessment of young people who have come to the attention of the State’s care service.

“Central to good practice is the need to complete a comprehensive assessment of the child and family in a timely manner.

“This should take account of the multiple adversities such as domestic violence, substance abuse, poor mental and physical health, that can impact on parenting capacity. It must be recognised that inadequate assessment undermines the potential for effective planning,” reads one of the NRP reports.

Cormac Quinlan, Tusla’s interim director of policy and strategy, said the agency is taking steps to address the recommendations in the reports.

“Whilst the reports highlight that the deaths were not as a result of the quality of services received, Tusla continues to be committed to the constant improvement of the services we provide.

“Tusla is already taking steps to address the recommendations of the reports including the finalisation of a protocol regarding communication with professionals and families on the death of a child, the development of specialist services for children displaying sexualised behaviour and the enhancement of our current child protection and welfare assessments,” said Mr Quinlan.

Empowering People in Care (EPIC) said the reports highlighted gaps in care services.

“One of the key findings from these reports highlights the need for co-ordination and co-operation of services, in particular, between Tusla, mental health and disability services,” director of Epic, Jennifer Gargan said.

“There needs to be clarity around the key responsibility of each organisation identifying which organisation is the lead organisation particularly when a young person at the age of 18 is transitioning out of care.”


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