Number of children in care up 3%


THE MINISTER for Children has said the number of children in care increased by 195 during 2011, a growth of 3 per cent during the year.

Frances Fitzgerald was commenting on the publication of the Courts Service’s annual report, which stated that 2,287 care orders were granted by the District Court in 2011, up from 1,046 in 2010.

She said this figure included short-term interim care orders as well as special-care orders, which may be made on a monthly basis and are subject to monthly renewal. They do not correlate to the number of children who go into care. This increased from 5,965 at the end of 2010 to 6,160 at the end of 2011.

Under the Child Care Act, children may be the subject of emergency care orders, which are revisited quickly by the court; interim care orders, which are renewed at regular intervals; full care orders, which can also be the subject of modification by the courts; and supervision orders, under which the child remains with his or her family but is subject to supervision. This means a child may be the subject of multiple orders and court appearances by the Health Service Executive on his or her behalf.

The Courts Service statistics did not indicate the number of children to which the care orders related.

Ms Fitzgerald pointed out that Ireland has fewer children in care per thousand of population than England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Australia.

She added: “We are fortunate in this country that over 91 per cent of children in care are in foster care in a stable family setting.”