I would like to draw attention to the publication on last Friday of a HIQA inspection report on children’s residential centres in the HSE South area. The report followed a two day pre-announced inspection of the children’s residential centres in April. Three young people resided in the centre, one aged 14 years and two aged 15 years. The report was highly critical. The inspections described the living accommodation at the centre. It consisted of two separate purpose-built bungalows that were described as shabby and not fit for purpose, the heating was broken, walls were broken as well as cupboards and doors.
The inspectors also identified serious concerns over the care being given to children by staff at the centre due to their very low morale. One of the findings that I found particularly troubling was that two of the teenagers had attended school intermittently before being admitted to the centre but they no longer attend school. They had not been to school for over eight months. We know from the child death review group’s report last week of the importance of education and school attendance and that the report spanned 2000 to 2010. The new report is dated April 2012. It alarms me because it has highlighted the fact that the issues contained in the child death report have not been addressed. It is imperative that the HSE act on the 23 recommendations in the HIQA report. I also draw the attention of the House to the fact that there is still no independent inspection regime for children in disability services or children in direct provision.
It baffles me, given the truly dreadful record in child welfare and protection that not only are many children in Ireland seen but not heard, some of the most vulnerable are neither seen nor heard. I call on the Leader to invite the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, to the House to explain the reason there is no inspection for these categories of children. In recent months I have had correspondence with both Ministers, neither of whom will take responsibility for these categories of children.