Special care, or secure care, provides a stabilising, therapeutic environment when a child's experiences and behaviours cannot be addressed in mainstream foster or residential care, and where the child poses a risk to their own safety. For a very small proportion of children, highly specialised care, such as that provided by the centre to which the Deputy refers, is required.
St Andrew’s Healthcare is a secure mental health facility and placements are made in the best interests of the child. In making an order for the placement of a young person in a facility such as St Andrew's , the High Court requires a clinical recommendation by a HSE / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service psychiatrist and will stipulate that arrangements are in place to ensure on-going clinical oversight by a psychiatrist from the relevant mental health service in Ireland.
I can advise the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has sought assurances in relation to the Irish children currently placed in this facility. To ensure their safety and well-being Tusla receive regular, detailed reports on the child. The children have regular visits from their allocated social worker, an up-to-date written care plan, access to their families and/or carers where this is in their best interests and aftercare planning with an allocated aftercare worker. They also have a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem to represent their wishes and interests in court proceedings. Tusla’s ultimate goal is to see all children in such placements recover sufficiently to be safely discharged and return home to Ireland.
I understand that the Deputy would like to know whether it is possible to provide the same type of care in Ireland. When considering a specialised placement, Tusla must consider facilities where the expertise and services required are already in place, and where the complex skills necessary to practice effectively can be maintained through the treatment of sufficient numbers of patients. As noted by the Deputy, a total of six children from Ireland were in the facility at the time of the inspection, which represents approximately 0.01% of the total number of children in care in Ireland.
The Deputy also asks about costs. I have written to Tusla and asked them to reply directly to the Deputy on this aspect of the question.