Molly is a teenager and, in the words of her long-time foster carers, “a beautiful human being who needs extra care and attention”.
According to the Ombudsman for Children, Tusla and the HSE failed to deliver it.
Born with Down syndrome and severe autism and abandoned at birth, Molly has long been cared for by her foster family, depending on them in all areas of her care, including feeding, toileting, bathing, and dressing.
She needs a range of services to help with her health and development.
Molly’s foster carer lodged a complaint with the Children’s Ombudsman stating that while Molly has brought love and positivity to their lives, she felt financially, emotionally, and physically drained and “emotionally destroyed” fighting for services for Molly, likening the situation at times to being kept “like a prisoner” in her own home.
Neither the HSE nor Tusla saw Molly as a child in care or a child with a disability.
“Several social workers interviewed described feeling ill-equipped with regard to supporting Molly and her foster family,” said the Ombudsman’s report.
“Molly’s foster carer has had to present and request each funding requirement as it arises, assuming a substantial financial burden.”
Molly has a special liquidised diet, and some over-the-counter medication is not covered by her medical card. She was initially in receipt of dietary allowance, but this ended when Molly’s foster carer began receiving the pension.
Funding of €240 per week for a carer and cleaner ended in January 2017.
Six hours a week of home support ended in January 2016, and it was claimed Molly did not receive any home visit from an intellectual disabilities liaison nurses for a 14-month period between 2006 and 2008.
“The necessity for constant clothes washing and ensuring that their home is warm enough for Molly has resulted in extraordinarily high electricity and home heating bills,” said the Ombudsman’s report.
“These are costs that would not occur with a non-disabled child of similar age.”
During the investigation, Molly’s foster carer was told that Molly would have to be moved to a full-time residential placement.
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