Ombudsman to investigate child protection


Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan has announced an investigation into adherence to child-welfare guidelines.

The investigation will focus on the HSE, which implements the Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, and the Department of Health and Children/Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA), which monitors them.

The guidelines, adopted in 1999, impose an obligation on the HSE to operate local level guidance and procedures that comply with the basic aims and objectives of the guidelines.

According to the Ombudsman's office, however, information has recently emerged through complaints and investigations undertaken by the office that "raises serious concerns".

"Coupled with the ongoing concerns about child protection previously raised by the Ombudsman for Children, and the disturbing results of a recently published review . . .the Ombudsman for Children has decided to launch an independent, systemic, national investigation into the operation Children First," the statement added.

Emily Logan said: “It is important to note that this is just the start of the investigation and we have not reached any conclusions on these matters. However . . . I am concerned about the partial or non-implementation of these guidelines by the HSE and how this could result in systemic deficits in the management and care of children.

The Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002, gives the Ombudsman authority to undertake her own investigations.