Written answers

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Child Detention Centres

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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15. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the findings published on 22 October 2015 by the Health Information and Quality Authority following an unannounced inspection of the detention schools in Oberstown campus which outlined a number of recurring issues which had not been addressed, such as single separation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42542/15]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I have noted the recent report from HIQA which is based on the robust inspection process for the Children Detention Schools under section 185 of the Children Act 2001. This process continues to highlight the need for ongoing improvements in the operation of the Oberstown campus. However, it must be acknowledged that the HIQA report also outlines a number of clear improvements since the previous inspection. These include for example: the commissioning of new residential units from March 2015; the employment of new residential care staff; the progress being made toward a new offending behaviour programme; significant improvements in handling of child protection concerns and complaints oversight, and the focus on mental health needs of children under the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service.

I accept that more work is necessary on a number of issues identified by HIQA, in particular that of single separation of children. On this issue, the report found that management were actively engaging with staff teams on the use of single separation, and that the policy for authorisations of separation had significantly improved. However, ongoing work is required to address the issues related to its use and this is reflected in the updated action plan which has been drawn up by the Oberstown campus and agreed with HIQA on foot of recommendations made in the inspection report. I have also commissioned a review by my Department of the single separation policies in use across the range of children’s residential care settings and this has recently commenced.

The updated action plan identifies ongoing areas of improvement for the delivery of services on the campus to ensure the journey of a young person through Oberstown is seamless. This incorporates areas such as care, education, health, offending behaviour and preparations for discharge. A full time training manager has recently been appointed for the campus and an updated training plan is currently being delivered covering areas such as management of challenging behaviour, fire safety, crisis prevention and intervention, manual handling, child protection, safeguarding and first aid. Further improvements in medication management and staff supervision are also being pursued.

A further inspection was also carried out by HIQA in November and I understand that the initial feedback from this inspection has been broadly positive.

I also wish to note that a comprehensive reform programme has been underway on the campus in recent years to provide improved facilities, in order to accommodate older children under the Government commitment to end the practice of detaining children in adult prison facilities. The steps contained in the updated HIQA action plan will be implemented in parallel with this on-going reform programme.

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