Press Release

Hanafin reaffirms commitment to the provision of High Support and Special Care places for children in need of special care or protection

Mary Hanafin T.D. Minister for Children today Monday 17th December 2001 reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the provision of High Support and Special Care places for the small number of children in need of special care or protection.

She said “this Government has invested approximately £30m capital through the Health Boards for the provision of additional places”.

She added “very substantial progress has been made by the Health Boards in increasing the number of Special Care and High Support places. In mid 1997 there were 17 such places and now there are a total of 93.

An additional 41 places are planned as follows:

  • In the eastern region a high support facility providing 24 places at Portrane.
  • The Midland Health Board, North Eastern Health Board, North Western Health Board and the Western Health Board are co-operating to provide 12 high support places on a single campus in Castleblaney.
  • The Mid-Western Health Board will be providing an additional 5 special care places for adolescent boys. Places in these facilities are due to become available by mid 2002″.

Minister Hanafin also stated that the Special Residential Services Board, which was recently launched, will advise on and improve the co-ordination of special residential services for children convicted by the Courts and for non-offending children in need of special care and protection.

While Health Boards have experienced some difficulties in recruiting suitably trained staff progress has been made in this area through recruitment abroad and the expansion of training courses. A new career and pay structure for child care workers was introduced earlier this year. This aims to ensure that more people are attracted into child care and to ensure that care workers are trained to an appropriate level.

She also added that the Social Services Inspectorate had been set up to monitor the quality of all aspects of child care services, in particular residential child care facilities, and to provide guidance on standards and good practice.

The Minister added that an additional £135m revenue had been invested in child welfare and protection services since this Government came to office. This was provided to develop a range of services including foster care, family support, youth homelessness, and mainstream residential care.

The Minister added that she is committed to refocusing the service to develop early intervention, family support and alternative community care provision to minimise the need for High Support and Special Care placement.

Key Measures since 1997

  • Increase in secure care and high support places from 17 to 93
  • 41 additional places due mid 2002
  • Establishment of the Social Services Inspectorate 1999
  • New career structures for child care workers 2001
  • Increased salary scales for child care workers 2001
  • Establishment of Special Residential Services Board 2000/01
  • Capital Investment £30m
  • Revenue investment : Additional £135m 1997 – 2002
  • Launch of National Children´s Strategy
    Establishment of National Children´s Office
    Establishment of National Children´s Advisory Council