The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today welcomed, as a first step the publication of this fundamental review into protecting children.
Following the launch of this report today she called on Government to immediately implement the recommendations which affect the most vulnerable children and young people in Northern Ireland.
Ms Lewsley said “ I am concerned at the impact many of these findings are having or have had on children and young people’s lives and would further urge Government to change the mindset to make sure children and young people are heard when developing and delivering services for them.
With over 70 recommendations it is also clear that many important issues have been identified and it is essential that these are rectified now.”
NICCY supported many of the recommendations by consistently making Government aware of issues and asked that children and young people’s views be taken into account as part of the investigation.
“My office also highlighted the inconsistent way children and young people’s needs are assessed and services such as mental health are provided. I therefore welcome the recommendation that should see all children and young people’s needs being assessed in the same way and the commitment to ensure resources are available across NI for these children and their parents.”
The Commissioner also highlighted her concern at the lack of continuity and high turn over of social work staff working directly with children and families.
She said “while recognising the pressures staff sometimes face, this can all too often have a negative impact on children’s care and children have told us this in the report.
I hope the steps taken by the DHSSPS to address this through the development of a Senior Practitioner grade will quickly address this very real and pressing problem.
NICCY have also raised concern that children and young people are not involved in a real and meaningful way, in their care planning. Again I hope changes in practice will happen now so that children’s voices are properly heard in these situations.”
The Commissioner also recognized the positive moves proposed to make the system more accountable.
She said “I welcome the focus that a Director of Children’s Services in both the Trusts and the Regional authority will bring but we also need to see a similar post within DHSSPS itself. It is important that this is followed up with real action on the ground and I will be examining this closely in the new arrangements under the Review of Public Administration.
While I am delighted that children and young people had the final say on this report, NICCY would urge all agencies to make sure that children and young people have the first say on work that affects their lives.
Now the investigation has been completed the real work begins and I want the recommendations contained in this report to be implemented as a matter of urgency. This is about child protection – we all have a duty to act quickly to ensure we are doing everything to protect all our children.
As Commissioner I will be watching Government’s progress on these issues”.
Notes to Editors
For more information please contact Andrew McGall at 028 9031 1616 or Andrew@niccy.org.