Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1349)

Clare Daly


1349. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the length of time the 337 children missing from care in 2018 were missing. [18835/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for the information requested by the Deputy. A further reply will issue when I have their reply.

Tusla social workers develop an Absence Management Plan for children in care in conjunction with their foster carers, residential staff and family, where appropriate. These are used to assess the risk in the event of a child going missing and the appropriate action to be taken in each individual case. A child in care is considered to be missing when his or her whereabouts are unknown and the Absence Management Plan indicates concern for the child’s safety. It should be remembered that most children in care live in family settings in the community and, like all teenagers, will have curfews to return home.

As children and adolescent's needs differ, there will be an individual judgement made in relation to how late a child may be in returning to their foster carers or residential centre. The length of time alone cannot be used to determine whether a child qualifies as missing from care, rather it is a combination of the time period with all other circumstances of the case that must be considered. For example, if a child is not allowed unsupervised time outside the home and cannot be found in the home, this will be counted as an incident of a child missing from care, regardless of the period of time involved.