Comment: Children in care is an issue

kILDARE District Court Judge, Desmond Zaidan’s comments last week regarding the HSE’s record of looking after children in its care merits attention.

kILDARE District Court Judge, Desmond Zaidan’s comments last week regarding the HSE’s record of looking after children in its care merits attention.

Judge Zaidan pointed out that, in his view, eight or nine out of ten children taken into care end up before him in court.

He lambasted the State for what he perceives as its failure on the issue.

He pointed out that the State’s role in becoming the legal guardian of a child whose parents were deemed unable to look after them, as envisaged in the forthcoming children’s rights referendum, was only papering over the cracks as, in any case, the HSE was already doing that.

He also highlighted an apparent lack of understanding amongst the wider public because of a lack of transparency on the matter. Juvenile cases cannot be reported upon, and they are effectively conducted behind closed doors.

The result, as he sees it, is a system which more often than not fails the children that are taken into care.

At its worst, the consequences are individual cases that repeatedly end up before him in court, in a revolving door like fashion.

Judge Zaidan’s comments are nothing if not timely.

With the upcoming referendum, he is highlighting an issue which, as he correctly points out, receives little attention.

More transparency is definetly needed, and the issue deserves public attention, without compromising the identification of the individuals or families involved.

The referendum should be a matter of widespread public debate.

If the State is failing these children, then we all have a responsibility in correcting it.