Alliance welcomes Minister Andrews’ Implementation Plan
“The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes today’s publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009: Implementation Plan, by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD. The Plan, with a budget of €25 million, contains 99 actions to implement the recommendations contained in the ‘Ryan Report’.
Many of the Plan’s actions encapsulate the recommendations made by the Alliance in its submission last month to the Minister – Learning From the Past: Responding to the Recommendations of the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse Report. Of particular note are the Plan’s actions to:
• Place a legal duty to comply with the Children First guidelines, on staff employed by the State and agencies in receipt of Exchequer funding.
• Increase capacity within the social work service, including the recruitment of 270 social workers, with the objective of ensuring every child in care has an allocated social worker.
• End the practice of placing separated children in hostels (outside regulation/inspection system).
• Commence inspections by the Social Services Inspectorate (under HIQA) of all children’s residential centres and foster care homes, including residential centres and respite services for children with a disability.
• Ensure the provision of aftercare services for children leaving care in all instances where the allocated social worker deems it to be necessary.
• Put in place a national out-of-hours social work crisis intervention service, beginning with a pilot in two areas.
The Alliance also welcomes the Minister’s comments at the press conference today, that the Government is committed to the holding of a referendum on children’s rights. The Alliance believes that the successful passage of a children’s rights constitutional amendment would be a “living memorial” to the victims of abuse, who were not listened to and whose rights were not respected.
The Plan sets out a clear and focused framework that, if implemented, will make a real and positive difference to the lives of children in care and in need of protection. The main challenge now is to ensure that the funding and other resources required to put it in place are forthcoming. We are at a critical juncture; we must not let the actions contained in this Plan become mere aspiration. Indeed, the Alliance calls for timelines to be brought forward to reflect the urgency of some of the child protection and child care issues covered in the Plan.
Some of the actions, whilst welcome and encouraging, do not go far enough. It is not clear how the placing of Children First on a statutory footing will operate in practice. If this policy is restricted to organisations in receipt of state funding, will this leave children in other settings vulnerable? Furthermore, we are disappointed that the following issues are not more comprehensively addressed: strengthening our vetting system, establishing a child death review committee, ending the detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution, and investing in preventive and early intervention services.
The Plan commits to establish a group to oversee the implementation of its actions. The composition of this group is critical to its success: it is essential that there is an independent and non-governmental voice present on this group. This is in line with a recommendation in the Alliance’s submission.
The Plan contains concrete actions that, if implemented, could change childhoods. The Alliance calls on the Government to act with urgency to implement the commitments it has now made.”
Anyone who is emotionally distressed by the content of this release, or media coverage of the report, can phone the Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90 to talk in confidence.
For further information, please contact:
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7835057; Fax: (01) 662 9355
Notes to Editors:
• Copies of the Alliance submission, Learning From the Past: Responding to the Recommendations of the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse Report, paper can be found at www.childrensrights.ie or by contacting Maria Corbett.