Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (360)

Eamon Scanlon


360. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children that potentially have myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME, overseen by Tusla; the approach of Tusla to children missing school that potentially have ME; if she will undertake reforms to improve the quality of social work practice and decision making, including thorough assessment and accreditation against qualifying standards for children that potentially have ME and or are waiting for an appointment to diagnose and or exclude ME using recognised diagnostic criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30254/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Where a child is in the care, or known to, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, information about any known medical issues may be recorded on their file. Information about the health status of individual children is not collated centrally by Tusla for the purpose of reporting.

Where a child in care has a diagnosed medical condition, Tusla social workers will work collaboratively with the HSE to ensure that the child has access to the relevant services and supports. Where it is not possible to meet the child's needs through the public health system Tusla may, on occasion, privately source supports.

Social workers do not and cannot diagnose children and young people with medical or psychiatric conditions, however, if a parent or carer is worried that a child may have an illness, physical or mental, a social worker allocated to a family would support the parent/carer to access the relevant services, for example their GP.

Where a child already has a diagnosis, a social worker must work with the child, their parent or carer and (with the appropriate consent) the child's doctor, to support the child and family in managing the impact of any illness. The goal of the intervention is to ensure that the child can avail of any developmental opportunities, and to ensure parents and carers are supported to care for the child. This may involve providing practical supports through the family support service, assisting parents and carers to attend appointments for the child or assisting the child, parents and carers to access recommended supports e.g. applications for local authority grants to modify housing.

The Education and Welfare Service, also a division of Tusla, work with children and their parents/carers where school attendance is of concern. This is separate to the child protection social work service provided by Tusla.