August 8th, 2008
The HSE and the Department of Health and Children (DoHC) have been in discussion for some time on the development of a comprehensive 24 hour, seven day a week, out of hours childcare service. In the current economic climate, it is not possible to progress the fully comprehensive dedicated out of hours service. However, in the context of the discussions with the DoHC in recent weeks, the HSE is currently focusing on the provision of emergency placements for children on an out of hours basis.
It should be noted that, for example, in a situation where a parent is taken ill and a child has to be cared for on an emergency basis, the HSE is also attempting to ensure that the needs of the parent and child are addressed.
These new plans are currently being finalised and the HSE will bring the proposals to the DoHC in September.
Acknowledging the significant work that was undertaken in relation to the review of out of hours services carried out in recent months, Mr Hugh Kane, HSE Assistant National Director with responsibility for Children's Services today said: "That review was comprehensive and it looked at all aspects of care sought by or on behalf of children on an out of hours basis. This could include a sick child, or a young person in care who may have absconded or indeed a troubled teenager."
"The range of services that these children require is diverse. But we always stress that the HSE does operate on a 24 hour, seven day a week basis and that access is always there to services such as our GP Out of Hours Co ops and our A&E services as appropriate. Child safety and security is at the core of all our work and our new proposals will underpin this goal."
Addressing the issue of emergency placements, Mr Kane said that regardless of whether this need arises on a nine to five basis, or out of hours, the gardai under the Childcare Act have the authority to remove a child in an emergency situation. "The Gardai and the HSE work collaboratively in implementing the Childcare Act. The HSE has authority to seek a court order, for example, for the removal of a child to a place of safety (in the absence of parental consent)."
"Under the Act, however, it is only the gardai who have the authority to intervene and remove a child to a place of safety on an emergency basis. Our new proposals will strengthen that co operation, providing all authorities and professionals with the appropriate access and information necessary to secure the safety and health of children on an out of hours basis."
The HSE will be formalising direct contact arrangements for out of hours services for gardai and will be engaging directly with the appropriate garda authorities on this and other matters over the coming weeks.
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Last updated on: 08 / 08 / 2008