Call for more social workers

 

A social worker must be allocated to every child in state care, a leading homeless charity said today.

As new figures revealed 18 children were killed, died from drugs or by suicide while in care in the past 10 years, Focus Ireland said the Government must take immediate action to protect vulnerable young people.

Mike Allen, Focus Ireland’s advocacy director, said a fifth of children in care do not have a social worker, branding it unacceptable.

“Focus Ireland knows that a young person’s vulnerability does not end once they reach their 18th birthday,” he said.

“Urgent action is required to provide a continuum of structured care for a child when he or she is in care and also when they leave care at 18 to help them make a successful transition to independent living.

“There needs to be urgent action to better protect children in care by ensuring every one of them has an allocated social worker.”

As well as the deaths of 18 children in care, the Health Service Executive said another 19 children died from natural causes and health problems such as brain tumour, leukaemia, surgical complications and heart disease.

Of the total 37 deaths, 20 were teenagers and 17 were younger children.

Focus Ireland also repeated its call for a legal right to aftercare for all young people leaving state care after turning 18.

“We see it through our work all the time that some young people leaving state care have nobody else to turn to for support but the state and it is vital that we honour our commitment as a society to provide the support they need,” Mr Allen said.

PA