Monday, February 25, 2013

The number of reports concerning the welfare and protection of children in County Roscommon increased by almost 40 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to the latest report available from the HSE. The number of child protection and welfare concerns reported in the county has returned to levels last seen in 2008, when over 1,000 reports were dealt with by social work services. A report into the Adequacy of Services for Children and Families for 2011 details the extent of welfare, neglect, and abuse concerns involving children in the county that year. The report reveals that the social work department of the HSE in the county dealt with 1,053 reports concerning the welfare, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect of children in 2011. A further breakdown of figures showed that less than two thirds or 654 reports were of a protection nature and related to issues of neglect, and emotional, physical and sexual abuse, while over one third (38 percent) or 399 reports related to welfare concerns. The HSE report also revealed that County Roscommon was ranked as having the highest child protection report rates out of 32 local health office areas across the country that year. The number of child protection reports made per 10,000 children in the county was higher than the national average in 2011. The rate in the county was 406.8 per 10,000 children compared to the national average of 138 per 10,000 children. These protection reports related to concerns of neglect, and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. A further breakdown of protection reports by type revealed that the neglect (21 percent) and emotional abuse (28 percent) of children were the most prevalent concerns to be reported in the county, followed by sexual abuse (7.7 percent) and physical abuse (5.4 percent). The number of children in care was also found to be higher in County Roscommon compared to the national average, with the county ranking fourth highest out of 32 local health offices. The number of children in care was highest in urban areas, including Dublin North Central, Cork North Lee, and Dublin North West, with County Roscommon following in fourth place nationally. There were 130 children in care in County Roscommon in 2011, with the majority (60 percent) being fostered, another 38 percent in care with relatives, and less than one percent in residential care. Nationally over 6,000 children were in care across the country in 2011, with over 90 percent of all children in care living in family settings. The HSE report also noted that the number of welfare and protection reports nationally had increased significantly since 2006 and was putting pressure on current resources. Children and Family Services, according to the report, have seen a 50 percent increase in referrals and a more than 17 percent increase in the number of children in care since 2006, while the child population has also grown by 10.5 percent and the number of births by 14 percent during the same period. “During 2011 there was rising pressure on services, with an increase in the number of child protection reports and in the number of children in care,” the HSE report stated.

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