A vulnerable teen was assaulted by a man outside a HSE facility in the South and it later emerged there had been “inappropriate behaviour” between her and the man, according to inspection reports released under Freedom of Information.
However, staff never recorded the incident as a child protection breach and never told gardaí. It also emerged the teenager had people in her bedroom after 10pm and had spent time alone in another man’s apartment.
She was also deciding herself when she’d visit her parents rather than social workers making the decision. All of this took place without any sanction.
Her disappearances from the home weren’t recorded by staff either. All of this, the inspector said, would be sufficient grounds to have transferred her to a new and more structured care placement.
Another report into a children’s home found it presented so many problems that the owners were told verbally they were substantially below standard.
They were also told they weren’t to take in any more new children.
The inspection team found:
* “A lack of competently qualified and experienced staff to deliver the type of care necessary”.
* That not all staff had been through a formal interview process and the acting team leader didn’t even have a social care qualification.
* Staff hadn’t had training in Children First guidelines, first aid or even fire safety.
Most shockingly, “inspectors found evidence of gaps in staff knowledge and practice in areas including child development and attachment, as well as a lack of an ability to empathise with young people and their personal circumstances”.
The children’s relationship with their parents was also being undermined as, unlike other centres, parents could only visit on certain days at certain times.
“The inspectors found significant gaps in staff knowledge and awareness of the emotional needs of the children and how to meet these”.
A vital part of ensuring that a children’s home is safe is the recording on paper of “significant events”, which could be seriously aggressive behaviour, disclosure of abuse or evidence of inappropriate relationships.
The report found that in this residential home, this practice was “not good enough”.
Neither were the staff supervising the children properly, as documentation showed how children were missing for substantial lengths of time without staff before staff realised it.
After the inspector wrote up his report, the owners voluntarily shut this centre.
Another centre in the HSE South area was found not to be completing risk assessment before children with challenging behaviour were sent into a different children’s home.
One girl who was sent to a new home ended up in Garda custody after getting into a fight with another girl. She also assaulted staff, with some needing medical attention.
Records also revealed how many of the staff were afraid to challenge the newer girl and often used restraint too late or not at all.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved