Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte TD has called on Minister Zappone to instigate a review of care services for young people in private care units.
Deputy Rabbitte made the comments following the publication of the independent review undertaken by Dr Helen Buckley into the deaths of young people in State care. This review included the case of ‘Adam’, a vulnerable teenager who took his own life while in the care of the State.
“This report by the National Review Panel highlights the numerous delays Adam experienced in getting placed in special care units. These delays were instrumental in creating a lack of coordinated care by various agencies, with care becoming increasingly reactive and crisis driven,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
“The report identifies that more foster carers are required for young people with mental health problems and those with disabilities in the care system. Many children with severe mental health or behavioural issues are currently placed in residential care units. Currently about 5% of children in the care of the State are placed in residential care units.
“I have expressed concern to the Minister in relation to the quality of care by some private providers of residential care for children who cannot be accommodated in the foster care system or in state-run care units.
“There are currently 26 private residential care providers contracted by Tusla, and at present there are 213 children placed in such private residential care homes. Tusla has informed me that the average payment to private residential care companies is €5,535 per child per bed per week, while the average cost of providing a care place in a voluntary provided care setting is €4,263 per child per bed per week.
“While most private residential units provide a high standard of care, I nonetheless have concerns over the quality and consistency of care in some units.
“I have called on Minister Zappone to instigate a review of such private residential units. I believe it is preferable that children are placed in state-run or voluntary-run units when it is not suitable for them to enter into a foster placement.”