May 19, 2007
HSE refutes misleading claim made at conference - in fact, number of missing children has declined dramatically
The Health Service Executive (HSE) today refuted claims by an official of the Irish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) that five Kenyan girls had disappeared from HSE care during a Scout or Brownie Jamboree in 2007.
This is not true.
The HSE understands that a party of 12 Kenyan children entered Ireland with visas to attend the event. This group subsequently went missing. At no time were any of this group in HSE care prior to going missing.
The HSE also understands that the matter is under ongoing investigation by the Gardai.
The HSE can confirm that several children, who it is believed were part of this group, have since been located and are now in the care of the HSE.
The HSE takes every case of a missing child very seriously. The issue of children going missing from HSE care has been a factor since the development, in the late 1990s, of our services for unaccompanied minors who arrive in this state.
The number of children going missing has varied from a high of 81 in 2001 to 32 in 2007. It is worth noting that the figures for the first quarter of 2008 indicate that just one child has gone missing from care in that period.
The pattern of such children going missing is similar to other EU countries.
Children may go missing for a variety of reasons. Many leave almost immediately after arrival before it has been possible to conduct an in-depth intake assessment and interviews. These children are generally in the 16 to 17 year old age group. Other children go missing after receiving negative results on their asylum applications.
The HSE (along with the Gardai, the Office of the Minister for Children and and the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform) met recently with the Children's Rights Alliance to discuss relevant issues in relation to this client group and it is intended to fully use the expertise that has built up in the NGO sector to augment the state supports that are available.
Mr David Walsh, Manager with the HSE's Primary Community and Continuing Care services, today emphasised -
"The HSE continues to prioritise services for Separated Children Seeking Asylum and this is reflected in the increase in the proportion of children who are now accommodated in both registered children's placements and foster care.
"Work continues on improving the care and accommodation for older children and significant progress is expected by the end of this year. We are heavily involved with the various state departments in the national response to the issue of human trafficking and staff at all appropriate levels will participate in the initiatives that arise.
"I firmly believe that progress in relation to the issue of missing children is clearly reflected in the significant reduction in children going missing this year".
Last updated on: 19 / 05 / 2008