High Court judge: only ‘by the grace of God’ are children in Tusla alive

High Court judge: only ‘by the grace of God’ are children in Tusla alive

Matt Letourneau

Amid a shortage of Tusla special care beds, the Child Law Project (CLP) published 70 reports this Monday, detailing cases of horrifying situations for vulnerable children in State care. In one report, a High Court judge stated that it was only “by the grace of God” that these children are still alive.

Special care orders are given to children who need protection or are at risk. However, there are only three special care facilities with just 15 of the 26 accommodations operational due to a lack of trained staff. Therefore, minors are forced to wait weeks for a free bed.

The CLP reports many shocking situations arising from this waiting period. In one instance, a teenage girl with the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old was allegedly sexually trafficked and exploited while in State care. At one point, the girl called her guardian ad litem (GAL) – a court-appointed guardian – two hours away from her residence at 11 pm, saying she was “cold and hungry.” The GAL reported that she believed the girl was being forced to make inappropriate videos for men, saying, “there were no words to describe the girl’s plight and despair.”

A statement from The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) outlines their concern for the children and calls for two possible actions to “halt this spiral of poor practice.” They demand: “The urgent enactment and implementation of The Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023” and the establishment of an “interdepartmental working group working group to urgently address the needs of children in care.”

A High Court judge said, “This is a tsunami about to reach shore, and nothing is being done.”