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174 children living in emergency accommodation

Some 174 children are living in emergency accommodation across the State, according to figures from Child and Family agency Tusla.

Emergency arrangements are made when a child cannot be accommodated in suitable facilities or foster homes and must be placed in hotels, B&Bs or rental properties.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Tusla CEO Kate Duggan said since the agency was established a decade ago referrals have doubled to 90,000 last year.

“In 2023, we received almost 250 referrals a day,” she said.

“That was an individual (calling) that was concerned about the welfare of a child.”

By the end of last year, Ms Duggan said that 5,600 children were in care, with 90% of them living in foster homes, however, she acknowledged that there has been a significant rise in the number of children requiring emergency accommodation.

“With the scale of the demand that is there we are challenged to identify appropriate placements for young people,” Ms Duggan said.

She added that this has been exasperated since the war in Ukraine began, with Tusla having to deal with 1,200 separated children seeking international protection who require accommodation.

The agency has said it does not want to continue placing vulnerable children in unregulated settings.

Ms Duggan said Tusla is “scaling [up] like never before” after it recently opened an additional 16 units, with four more to come, to house young people.

“My absolute ambition, and one of the key elements of our reform programme over the next three years, is about scaling that capacity and that’s around capacity across residential and emergency services,” she said.

However, Ms Duggan said while emergency accommodation will always be required, she wants to work with providers to ensure they are registered and regulated environments.

Read more: Tusla centre unable to safely meet childrens needs – HIQA

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