Reports into Abuse at Waterford Foster Home Harrowing in their Details of Systemic Abuse and Neglect
Barnardos welcomes the HSE’s publication of two reports into abuse allegations at a foster home in Waterford over a thirty year period. The reports contain a number of very worrying details about how abuse allegations were handled, and show a systemic lack of oversight and management in relation to vulnerable young people in the care of the State.
Barnardos’ CEO Fergus Finlay said, “When young people are placed in the care of the State, they are at their most vulnerable. Children in care need support and protection so that they can thrive. The care they receive should be child centred at every level. They need to know that their lives matter, that they can be listened to and have people on whom they can depend.
“Today’s reports are harrowing in their detail. The children whose cases are detailed were systematically neglected by the very system meant to protect them. In the case of one young woman with intellectual disabilities, a placement was maintained despite evidence of harm, details of bruising, and allegations of sexual abuse. Her case is utterly shameful. We see from these reports that the duty of care was abandoned in the case of this young woman, and also in the cases of the many others. This is utterly unacceptable and raises very serious concerns about the welfare of our young people within the foster care system.
“It is not enough to know what happened in this case, we need to know why it happened, and we welcome news that the Government is close to establishing a Commission of Inquiry. Barnardos has been unequivocal in its call for a commission which is robust and effective, ensuring no child or young person in the care of the State will be at risk of abuse.
“We also need to ensure that the foster care system is appropriately resourced and that people are managed and supervised properly in their work. This requires investment. The foster care system is the backbone of the care system and it needs to be fully supported and funded if these children are to receive the care needed to help them thrive.
Mr Finlay concluded, “We cannot allow people with disabilities to remain voiceless in Ireland. People with intellectual disabilities must have access to recourse and to representation, and they need to have the same rights as the people making decisions about them. For example, there is currently no Ombudsman for Disability. The State could very quickly revisit the Disability Act to give every citizen with an intellectual disability the right to be heard. Someone needs to speak on their behalf.”