Friday 12 March 2010: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Irish Foster Care Association, the Irish Association of Young People in Care, and the Children’s Rights Alliance are issuing a joint press statement today following reports that HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) are investigating 19 allegations made against foster carers in North Dublin, some of which include allegations of sexual abuse.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “At the Alliance, we are deeply disturbed by reports that vulnerable children in the North Dublin area may have been abused in their home. Any allegation of child abuse should be taken extremely seriously and investigated immediately. Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Ireland in 1992, each child has the right to be protected from abuse and if a child is unable to live with their birth family, for whatever reason, he or she should be provided with appropriate alternative care.
“The overwhelming majority of foster care families do an outstanding job in protecting and nurturing vulnerable children. Unfortunately, from time to time, some children in the foster care system are failed. This minimal risk can be reduced further by ensuring that each foster family is vetted, assessed and trained and receives ongoing support and checks. Moreover, foster families should be provided with relevant information about the child’s past, such as if a child has been sexually abused the family can minimise any potential upset to the child and be mindful of appropriate touch, dress and interaction with the child.”
Deirdre McTeigue, Director of IFCA, says: “The Irish Foster Care Assoication is distressed to hear of any report of alleged abuse in a foster family setting, and look forward to receiving the results of the HIQA inquiry. We continually work with foster families to raise awareness of the issue of child abuse that they could potentially face. I would urge the media to be balanced in their reporting of this story and to remember that foster families are the backbone of the care system, providing necessary homes to over 5,000 children.”
“A recent IFCA survey showed a positive image of fostering, both for families and children, but it also mapped out recommendations for the future. These recommendations include:
Each child has a social worker and care plan.
- Each foster carer has an allocated Link social worker.
- Children are provided with after-care services.
- Improved communication between foster carers and the HSE.
- Access to professional supports and services, including out-of-hours social work service.
These services are the basic requirements of a well supported foster care service and must be fully resourced and available to all children, young people and foster carers who need them.”
Jennifer Gargan, Director of the Irish Association of Young People in Care (IAYPIC), says “We in IAYPIC are deeply concerned that any child may have been abused while in the care of the HSE. Recent media reports have raised serious concerns about the deficiencies in the child care system. From our work with children and young people we are aware that the following issues need to be addressed to provide better and safer care to the most vulnerable children in our society. These include:
- An adequately resourced national out-of-hours social work service.
- Emergency beds to be made available throughout the country.
- Access to adolescent psychiatric assessment and in – patient services.
- Equitable and universal aftercare services.
- Early intervention child welfare services to prevent the need for crisis intervention at a later stage in a child’s life.
We would ask the media to respect the privacy of children, young people and their families when reporting on these issues and to realise that behind each story is a real and vulnerable child who has already experienced serious difficulties in their life”