1,200 complaints last year to children’s ombudsman

MORE than 1,200 complaints were made to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children last year, including some from children in the care system.

A conference heard yesterday that 69% of the complaints made to the office were from parents, but that another 10% were from professionals working in child welfare.

Concerned adults made 8% of the complaints, with extended family accounting for 5% of complaints and children themselves, 4%. The remaining 4% came from a variety of sources.

The overall number of complaints has soared. The office dealt with 912 complaints in 2009, up from 810 in 2008, and now the number has climbed above 1,200. Some 79 complaints were carried over from the previous year.

Manus De Barra of the office said 38% of complaints related to education and 37% to health, with those two issues dominating the contacts made to the OCO.

Among the serious issues raised by those contacting the ombudsman was the delay in or absence of aftercare planning for children who have spent time in the care system, as well as variations in aftercare provision around the country and limited services in some areas.

There were also issues with the availability of out-of-hours services, and Mr De Barra said in one case, a teenager spent 10 months in the out-of-hours service, but was not in the care of the state and therefore not able to avail of childcare.

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