On Tuesday 19th October 2023, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) published a Special Report on the Safety and Welfare of Children in Direct Provision. It is the first report of its kind since the OCO was established in 2004.
The Special Report highlights concern regarding the lack of progress on its previous three recommendations, which were issued in 2021 following an investigation into the administrative actions of the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) and Tulsa regarding children residing in IPAS accommodation.
According to the 2021 OCO report, the investigation highlighted ‘systemic deficiencies’ regarding IPAS’s duties of quality assurance in terms of the accommodation where children and their families reside, their duty to ensure effective access to an independent internal complaints’ procedure and both IPAS and Tulsa’s duties regarding the protection and welfare of children residing in State provided accommodation for those seeking international protection.
While the report acknowledges that the war in Ukraine has triggered a ‘crisis-driven’ response with unprecedented challenges for the Government, it also expresses concern for the potential adverse effects on the rights and welfare of children residing in State provided accommodation.
The recommendations highlighted by OCO to be implemented by IPAS include the following:
- To no longer use commercial hotels for accommodating children and to plan for accommodation capacity pressures
- To put in place a robust quality assurance mechanism, including an independent inspectorate
- To take into account the vulnerability of children within the international protection process when planning and providing for their accommodation needs.
Read the OCOs Special Report and Recommendations in full.
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