Three children in care in UK cost State almost €1m a year

Young people with mental health issues placed abroad due to lack of suitable facilities

Ballydowd child detention centre near Lucan Co Dublin is one of three special care units in the State. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Ballydowd child detention centre near Lucan Co Dublin is one of three special care units in the State. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Three troubled children are being held at a care facility in the UK at an annual cost of almost €1 million per year because there is nowhere suitable in the State for them.

In the course of 2016, three children were in placements in a secure mental health facility outside of the State in order to ensure their safety and wellbeing. All three children were placed in St Andrew’s, a specialist service in Northampton.

The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) said there were a small number of children whose life experience demands that specialised care is provided for them.

“The level of specialised intervention required is, on rare occasions, not available in Ireland. In such cases, a child or young person may be placed in out-of-State care at a facility abroad which offers a wider range of treatment options, support and/or interventions than those provided in Irish facilities. In such cases, priority is always given to the care a child or young person needs, rather than to jurisdictional boundaries,” a Tusla spokeswoman said,

The spokeswoman said the cost of out-of-State care placements varied depending on the facility a child was placed in, the services provided and the individual needs of the child in question. Current placements cost in the region of £5,000-£6,000 per child per week.”

There are three special care units in the State: Gleann Álainn in Co Cork, Coovagh House in Limerick and Ballydowd in Dublin.

These units house children who show serious behavioural problems and may be “at risk” of self-harm or suicide. A High Court order is needed to admit children to the units.

It costs the State less to send a child to a care facility outside Ireland as it costs about €10,000 per week to hold a child at the Ballydowd special care unit in Dublin.

Ballydowd caters for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17 who are detained under a High Court care order for a short-term period when their behaviour poses a real and substantial risk of harm to their safety and welfare.