Children's Rights Alliance Response to HIQA's Annual Report 2015


Children’s Rights Alliance Response to HIQA’s Annual Report 2015 

Thursday, 2 June 2016: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Responding to the publication of HIQA’s Annual Report 2015 earlier today, the Children’s Rights Alliance has welcomed the many improvements in children and family services identified. However, the Children’s Rights Alliance is concerned about the inconsistency of services for children across the country, as highlighted in the report. 
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said today: “Overall HIQA’s inspectors found that where children received a social work service, day-to-day social work practice was generally good and many children and their families benefitted from social work interventions. Children and families were found to be treated with respect and supported to understand and participate in decisions being made about them. HIQA’s report also notes an improvement in the number of ‘open’ cases of child protection/welfare referrals. The figure is down 1,000 cases to 26,655 at the end of 2015. 
Despite these positives, HIQA notes that there were a number of children identified to be at ongoing risk of significant harm and placed on the Child Protection Notification System, who were not allocated a social worker. HIQA also notes that there were 999 children who were deemed ‘high priority’ who had not been allocated a social worker at the end of 2015. It is critical at this juncture that Tusla – Child and Family Agency ensures that no child at risk of significant harm is left waiting for a social work intervention.
HIQA also highlights the inconsistency in how children experience services throughout the country.  Of particular note is Louth/Meath where a staggering 26 out of 27 HIQA standards were not met. There were eight breaches that resulted in a ‘significant risk’ to children and delays meant that some children were placed at an ‘unnecessary or unidentified risk’.  There shouldn’t be a postcode lottery when it comes to child protection and welfare. 
Children living in the direct provision system are particularly vulnerable by virtue of where they live. Echoing what is already known – this group has a higher than average rate of referral to Tusla, and child welfare concerns are closely related to parental physical or mental health, children’s mental health and a lack of practical supports. Environmental factors also lead to referrals, including inappropriate contact between adults, accidental injuries due to cramped living space and exposure to violence. To improve these children’s lives, a welfare and protection strategy must be put in place and the McMahon Report on Direct Provision must be implemented with urgency.
It’s very significant that the majority of children who spoke to HIQA inspectors are reporting positive experiences of services. They said that they and their families had benefitted from a social work or other type of care intervention. HIQA also pointed to the fact that some children lacked knowledge of their rights, the information being held about them and how to complain about their treatment. The key here for these children is better and more child-friendly information on their rights. But information alone is not enough, children and young people need the support of independent advocates to help them vindicate their rights.”
Notes to Editor
•         HIQA’s Annual Overview Report on the Inspection and Regulation of Children's Services 2015 is available here
For further information, please contact:
Emma McKinley, Communications and Development Manager
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 655 9067