Repeat care admission of babies casts doubt on system

Katherine Zappone: Released figures on admission to care.

Babies under the age of one accounted for 13% of all care admissions last year.

It has also emerged that some of these babies were admitted into care multiple times. This has cast doubt on care plans that were put in place to safeguard these very young children.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone released the figures in relation to the number of admissions to care of children under one.

In 2015, babies under the age of one were admitted into care on 205 occasions.

Ms Zappone acquired this information from Tusla, the child and family agency, which collates the data.

Earlier this month, the Irish Examiner reported that, in 2015, 121 babies aged under one had been taken into care in Ireland. Therefore, some of these 121 children were involved in the 205 admissions.

In 2014, 139 babies under one were taken into care and in the same year, there were 231 care admissions made of children under one.

In 2013, there 224 similar admissions made, while only 136 individual babies were taken into care.

Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath acquired these figures through a parliamentary question to the minister. He said the two sets of figures, in relation to individual children and the number of admissions in total, raises concerns.

“The information released to me by Minister Zappone raises further troubling concerns around very young children who are taken into state care,” Mr McGrath told the Irish Examiner. “In particular, the fact that each child may experience multiple admissions can surely be interpreted in such a way as to cast doubt on the effectiveness of existing care plans.”

Mr McGrath said the data pointed towards “high degrees of instability” in care environments.

“We seem to be in a position where very young children are experiencing high degrees of instability in their care environments; instability that is being increased, not diminished by State intervention,” he said. “I am particularly troubled by the fact that, according to Tusla’s own figures, children under one accounted for 13% of all admissions across all age categories in 2015 — a 3% increase from 2011.”


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