A review is to take place into how a teenage girl with intellectual disabilities was left in a foster home after allegations of sexual abuse were made against a carer in the home.
The review, jointly commissioned by the HSE and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will endeavour to establish the full facts of the case of ‘Mary’, who was resident in the foster home in the Cork region.
Last week, it was revealed the teenager was left with a foster carer, accused of sex abuse, for up to 21 months after two other children in the home were removed for their safety. The allegation against the foster carer did not involve alleged abuse of the children and young adult in question.
The review will by carried out by an independent reviewer, Cathleen Callinan, with the support of a senior professional from both Tusla and the HSE, both of whom work outside the Cork region. The staff of both agencies will fully co-operate with the review.
It will examine the period from January 2014, when an allegation of abuse was brought to Tusla’s attention, to February of this year, when a decision was made to remove the young woman from the foster home.
A report is to be submitted to both agencies within six weeks of commencement and will be published in full.
Last week, Tusla insisted that it could not intervene to remove the teenager when it made the decision in May 2014 to remove the two younger children. It said the third person was aged 19 and therefore an adult and the responsibility of the HSE.
However, the HSE later disputed this and appeared to rebuke Tusla for speaking about the matter publicly.
In a joint statement, Disability Minister Finian McGrath and Children’s Minister, Katherine Zappone, said it is “important to ascertain the facts of the case before commenting further”. Both also said they are committed to protecting the privacy of the young person and two other children who were in the care setting at the time of the allegations becoming known.
The case is the third to emerge relating to foster care homes this year. In January, it was revealed that a woman, known as ‘Grace’, and who has profound intellectual disabilities, was left in a foster home in Waterford for almost 20 years despite a succession of sexual abuse allegations.
A commission of investigation has been announced into that case, the terms of which are being finalised.
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