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Supreme Court Judge: Only by the Grace of God Children in Tulsa Are Alive

Matt Letourneau

Amid a shortage of special care beds in Tusla, the Child Law Project (CLP) published 70 reports on Monday detailing horrific situations for vulnerable children in state care. In one report, a High Court judge said it was only “by the grace of God” that the children were still alive.

Special care orders are issued to children who need protection or are at risk. However, there are only three special care facilities and only 15 of 26 beds are operational due to a lack of trained staff. As a result, minors are forced to wait weeks for a bed.

CLP reports a number of shocking situations resulting from this waiting period. In one case, a teenage girl with the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted and enslaved while in state care. At one point, the girl called her guardian ad litem (GAL) – a court-appointed guardian – two hours away from her home at 11 p.m., saying she was “cold and hungry.” The GAL reported that she believed the girl was being forced to make inappropriate videos for men, saying that “there are no words to describe the girl’s plight and desperation.”

The statement from the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) outlines their concerns for children and calls for two possible actions to “stop this cycle of bad practice”. They demand: “The urgent enactment and implementation of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023” and the establishment of “a cross-departmental working group to urgently address the needs of children in care”.

A High Court judge said: “This is a tsunami that is about to hit the shore and no one is doing anything.”