Issue 15 - March 2011

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Missing children

The Minister for Health & Children, James Reilly, gave details to Caomhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan) of the numbers of children reported to be missing from health board care  (Dail Eireann, Debates, 30th March 2011, 968).  The last set of figures he presented covered 196 children for the period January to June 2010, of which 91 were from Health Service Executive (HSE)  residential centres, 40 from private residential centres and 12 from voluntary residential centres.  In the case of foster placements, 32 were HSE, 5 private and 2 relative foster care.  Others came from hostels (5), supported lodgings (4), aftercare (2) and two others.  He added that most were quickly recovered, 81% within 24hr, and 94% within four days.  Most were in the 14 to 17 age group and had gone to friends or family members, while others had difficulty settling in.  Only four were still unaccounted for by 6th August 2010.  The HSE reported that due to problems with data collection and inconsistent information, it did not have information for 2009 or the second half of 2010, but he had asked the HSE to follow up on the four children unaccounted for.  From January 2011, the HSE had introduced a standardized risk assessment tool to ensure comprehensive data and a summary of the first six months of this year would be provided to the Health Information Quality Authority in July. A new protocol had been agreed with the Gardai which was awaiting clearance.  When this was done, information would be available weekly.  The HSE treated the issue of missing children seriously and prompt action was always taken to locate missing children.