Ombudsman investigation into removal of two Roma children under s.12.
Speaking in response to the publication of the Special Inquiry into the taking into care of two Roma children in October 2013, Gordon Jeyes, Chief Executive of Tusla – Child and Family Agency, said:
“The decision to remove a child from his or her family is always a difficult one which involves balancing the rights and freedoms of individual against the statutory duty to protect and safeguard young people.
“An Garda Síochána play a key role in Child Protection in Ireland, not least when they use their judgment to act quickly to remove a child to safety. Section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991 has, and will continue to be, a positive force for children in Ireland. The Child and Family Agency look forward to continuing to work in partnership with An Garda Síochána.
“Clearly aspects of the cases were unfortunate, not least the apparent lack of cultural sensitivity. Cultural awareness is a challenging area and in a rapidly changing Ireland, it is essential that our approach is routinely scrutinised.
“Learning from past experience is key and in this regard the Child and Family Agency is the process of reviewing actions taken when a child is taken into care under Section 12. A protocol for Agency staff is being prepared to ensure a consistent response when a child is placed in the care of the Agency by An Garda Síochána. This will stress the importance of conducting an independent assessment and emphasise the need for timely and comprehensive network checks to be undertaken in such cases.
“In addition, a joint protocol between An Garda Síochána and the Child and Family Agency has been drafted which includes procedures for responding during and outside normal office hours. We are also working on enhancing information sharing through an electronic child protection register.
“A Cultural Competency training module has been included in the social work training programme for 2014”.