Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Friday, August 05, 2005



Child residents, some only new born, in state-funded Childrens homes are being forced to go without baths for up to a month, and other children are becoming depressed due to extremely high levels of lice and vermin in their hair and on their bodies.

The Medical Inspector into Industrial & Reformatories has stated as many as 78 state-funded Children homes are not properly staffed, and said one Nun/Brother and a civilian assistant are forced to provide care for up to 200 children for 18 hours. "Nun and Brothers are reporting an increase in depression among children which have to be treated with drugs instead of other treatments such as even taking the child for a walk," said an anssistant to the Inspector.

The children are
suffering from a lack of stimulation as the nuns struggle to to provide basic care. Many children now have to be in bed by 4pm in the afternoon and have to eat their evening meal early because the staff is not available to care for them. She said staffing levels, set out many years ago, are now out of date because most of the children are dependent and need to be assisted all the time. Most children have to wait for up to a month. In the St C****** home in the Southern area there is no hot water adding even more hardship. State-run Childrens homes - unlike private boarding schools such as St. Michaels in Omeath - are not subject to many inspections by health service inspectors or parents.

The Assistant Inspector also said there
needs to be an immediate review of conditions of accommodation for young children in the care of the state. The Inspectorate has been forced to refer the issues to the the Dail Committee in the Rights of the Child to force the religious management of these homes to look at the real implications of low skills staffing levels in facilities for vulnerable children, she said.

"In 1958 the Commission on Childcare recommended that the Department of Health and Children urgently review staffing levels and conditions in Industrial Schools and Reformatories. To date this has not happened." She said no members of the religious orders have complaind of situations where there are not enough staff on duty to afford basic rights to children such as regular baths, self-determined bedtime or even mobility outside. "We are sure that if the
needs of the children were examined in the context of staffing levels ALL child care facilities would be well below acceptable levels of staffing."



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