Child in residential care needed medical attention after episode of abuse

180 incidents where children in care required 'medical treatment' or 'first aid', says Tusla
Child in residential care needed medical attention after episode of abuse

Tusla said there were 112 incidents reported involving injuries to children in care last year where ‘first aid’ was required 

Tusla has said one child in residential care last year required medical attention after an episode of child abuse.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, the Child and Family Agency said there were 112 incidents reported involving injuries to children in care last year where ‘first aid’ was required and separately, 68 incidents reported that required ‘medical treatment’  — an overall total of 180 incidents.

Of the 112 incidents involving children in residential care recorded on Tusla's National Incident Management System (Nims), 70% (79 incidents) were recorded under 'self-injurious behaviour', which the CFA described as "an intentional or unintentional act by a service user, and can include self-harm, dangerous or other harmful behaviours".

It was by far the most likely way in which a child would incur an injury that required first aid treatment, ahead of other categories such as slips, trips, falls (10 cases), temperature (excluding fire) (11 incidents), and six incidents recorded under violence, harassment and aggression.

However, another 68 more serious incidents involving children in residential care were recorded on Nims where an ‘injury or illness’ sustained required medical treatment.

Sixty-eight incidents involving children in residential care were recorded on Tusla's National Incident Management System where an ‘injury or illness’ sustained required medical treatment.
Sixty-eight incidents involving children in residential care were recorded on Tusla's National Incident Management System where an ‘injury or illness’ sustained required medical treatment.

More than half (37 cases) were also self-injurious behaviour, but one case was recorded under 'child abuse'. Tusla said it could not elaborate on the circumstances.

"We cannot discuss the details of an individual case," a spokesperson said. "When a child or family enters into a relationship with a public service such as Tusla they are entitled to expect that information generated in that relationship is treated in confidence. This is critically important in the subject matters which Tusla is involved.

It's important to note that child abuse, the same as any other category related to a child in care on the system, does not always automatically equate to an incident happening in the premises at that time.

Also among the 68 incidents, one was recorded under 'bacteria' and another under 'gas' and four were recorded under 'other chemical products'. 

Eleven incidents were recorded under slips, trips, falls and eight incidents were recorded under violence, harassment and aggression.

The FOI response also showed there were 54 incidents in which staff at residential centres for children were injured last year, with half requiring first aid and the other half requiring more medical attention. In both categories, two-thirds were caused by violent or aggressive behaviour.

In the first aid category, 18 incidents were recorded under violence, harassment and aggression,  with the same number recorded under the same category in the more serious cases that required medical attention.

The figures also show six incidents involving children in foster care that required first aid and another 17 that needed further medical attention. A total of seven cases across both categories were due to 'self-injurious behaviour', while three of the more serious cases involved 'violence, harassment and aggression'.

The CFA spokesperson said: “Tusla has a statutory obligation to notify the State Claims Agency (SCA) of incidents via the National Incident Management System (Nims). This system is hosted by the SCA for use by delegated state authorities such as Tusla.

"The terminology and categorisations in use within the Nims system were developed by the SCA and in some cases may not align exactly to those used by Tusla. It is also important to note that a ‘hazard type’ selected at the time of entry to Nims may change following a review of the incident or the conclusion of an investigation. The data on Nims is also subjected to ongoing validation and incidents may re-categorised over time.

It is a progressive development in terms of identifying, managing and reducing risk, and what can appear to be a high level of reporting is also indicative of increasing compliance with this system.

Tusla said incidents involving foster carers are not recorded on NIMS as they are not employees of the CFA.

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