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Ombudsman for Children’s Office. Muldoon, Niall (2021) Ombudsman for Children annual report 2020. Dublin: Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

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The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is a human rights institution that promotes the rights and welfare of children and young people under 18 years of age living in Ireland. The OCO investigates complaints about services provided to children by public organisations. The service is free and independent.

It is important to note that 2020 saw complaints about a number of new issues affecting children. These include the digital divide, lack of clarity on State examinations, the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on children with disabilities, children in care and children in high risk households. Education complaints related to schools, the Department of Education and Skills and other education agencies with a role in supporting or providing access to education, such as the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). Family Support Care and Protection complaints relate to Tusla, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. They can also feature other organisations such as, the Health Service Executive (HSE), hospitals or Court which can play a key role for children when they or their advocates are seeking such support, care and protection.

We dealt with complaints about:
1. Remote learning and the digital divide
2. Lack of clarity about state examinations and the mental impact on young people
3. Fairness of the calculated grades process
4. Children in very high risk households unable to access remote learning
5. The disproportionate impact on children with special educational needs

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