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Six children waiting for special care unit place

The State’s child and family agency, Tusla, has said six young people are currently awaiting a place in a special care unit.

It said every effort is made to find suitable placements for troubled children who require such care, but that it is experiencing “challenges” in attracting enough qualified staff at current pay levels.

There are three special care units in the country with a maximum capacity, if fully staffed, of 26.

However the current capacity is 15 beds due to a lack of staff.

Such places are provided for young people whose welfare, health, safety or development are in danger and who need secure accommodation and additional supports.

The agency was asked to comment after an application by lawyers for a 14-year-old boy for a declaration from the High Court that Tusla was in contempt of court by failing to provide him with a place.

The boy was described as “very troubled and vulnerable” as well as being at serious risk of death, serious injury or of committing a serious crime.

The court refused to grant the declaration as it found the boy’s lawyers should have followed the established procedures in relation to bringing proceedings for contempt of court rather than seeking a declaration.

It is understood lawyers for the boy and his mother are considering an appeal against the court’s decision.

The boy is still without a special care place despite the court ordering one should be provided.

The judge said the boy was suffering ongoing abuse at the hands of adults.

Tusla said it did not have the staff to open more beds.

In a statement, the agency said it did not comment on individual cases but that ensuring children and young people in its care are in the appropriate care placement was a priority for it.

It said every effort was made to find suitable placements but there were “challenges linked to attracting sufficient numbers of qualified staff at current levels of remuneration”.

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