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[Child and Family Agency] Publication of National Review Panel reports. (16 Jul 2014)

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The Child and Family Agency publishes today (16/7/2014) reports from the National Review Panel on the deaths of four* young people. The National Review Panel is an independent body, under the chairmanship of Dr. Helen Buckley, which reviews cases where children in care, in aftercare or known to child protection services die or experience serious incidents.

Commenting on the Report findings, Paul Harrison, Director of Policy and Strategy, Tusla - Child and Family Agency, said: “I extend my deepest sympathies to all those affected by the losses of the young people as detailed in these reports.

“The death of each child or young person is a tragedy. In one particular case, (Luke report), the findings reflect the considerable shortcomings in supporting and protecting a vulnerable young person who was in desperate need of support throughout his life. A range of challenges affected this young man. It was a complex case which required the provision of disability, mental health, and social work services. Focused well-planned, multi-disciplinary action was required and did not take place. Whilst acknowledging the considerable service pressures on social work staff at the time, the statutory intervention provided to a young person at high risk was insufficient and poorly coordinated. The necessary state support did not happen and we must acknowledge this and apologise.

“However, the reports also acknowledge the high level of interagency cooperation and the considerable efforts made by Social Work teams to support families in challenging circumstances. In particular, the review into ‘John’s’ case recognises the prompt, diligent and respectful actions of the local Social Work team in a very difficult case in which there was a dispute between a child’s parents and his medical team.

“The primary responsibility for the care of a child lies with the family. Sometimes families need help to carry out that responsibility and it is the duty of the State to respond. The key learning from these reports is that good individual supports are not enough, without a coordinated, multi-agency approach.

“Since these tragic deaths, there has been a radical change in the way we respond to vulnerable young people. The establishment of Tusla - Child and Family Agency was heralded as a seminal moment in the delivery of services to children promising improved services and greater accountability. Tusla is committed to the review of previous failings and to ensuring that the legacy of those failings is a renewed determination not to fail future generations, future individuals.

“Significant reform, centred on co-ordination, accountability, oversight and multiagency working is taking place and includes: -

• A national service delivery model to ensure effective oversight and accountability in meeting the needs of young people.
• Out of hours services have been expanded to address the needs of young people who present in emergency situations outside of normal working hours.
• A consistent approach by practitioners to the implementation of Children First guidance.
• A new assessment framework which provides greater oversight of Care Plans or Child Protection Plans. Care planning is also now benchmarked and monitored against national guidance
• A new protocol between the Child and Family Agency and the HSE ensures that complex cases are discussed across agencies at six weekly intervals. Multiagency working is also being improved through the introduction of Meitheal and the development of protocols around information sharing.
• A Quality Assurance Framework to regularly monitor and review service delivery outcomes.
• A dedicated Aftercare Service to standardise the delivery of Leaving and Aftercare Services across the country so that every young person who is eligible will be provided with services to meet their specific needs.
• A formal agreement to ensure inter-agency collaboration focusing on the needs of the individual young person.”

*Out of respect for the express wishes of the family, the Child and Family Agency is not publishing the fifth report.

Notes: Email for copies of the reports.

See first 2 related URLs below for copies of reports on 'Luke' and 'Nicholas'.

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