HSE compiling background to Roma care order

The head of the HSE’s Children and Family Services has indicated that some information heard in court resulting in a Roma girl being taken into care on Monday may be made available to an investigation by the Children’s Ombudsman.

Gordon Jeyes, who is chief executive designate for the new Child and Family Support Agency (CFSA) which will take over responsibility for child protection in 2014, said he had not spoken with the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) as of Thursday night.

However, he said the HSE were sealing the files linked to the Roma case and was seeking the description of the information it must provide, such as the level of social work involvement in the case and the level of wider consultation.

“That is being prepared by the head of policy and strategy who is highly experienced in closing down files and has impeccable integrity in that regard,” Mr Jeyes said.

He said it was uncertain if what was said in court before the Roma child from Tallaght was taken into care would be freely available to any investigation.

“I am not sure about that but clearly the decisions that emerge from the emergency care order and the steps that were taken thereafter, I would be surprised if the logic behind that was not explored,” he said.

He also said it “may be” that there were different levels of consultation in both cases, but he stressed that he could not speak about either case specifically.

Mr Jeyes also said there was a “strong partnership” between the HSE and the gardaí and added: “We stand together.”

Lessons would be learned from the outcome of any investigation into both Roma cases, he said, adding the cases should not undermine the role of newly recruited gardaí and social workers who in certain cases must act in what they think are the best interests of a child.

He also said the new CFSA, due to begin work next January, will be “leaner, fitter, better” and that it was “all systems go” to get it operational before then.

Mr Jeyes was speaking at the 4th biennial Child Protection and Welfare Social Work conference in UCC titled: New Agency, New Rights, New Systems: Are Children Any Safer?

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