A recent HIQA inspection of a residential unit for children run by Tusla has found inadequate governance and management at the centre. 

Ballydowd Special Care Unit is a residential setting for children aged between 11 and 17 who are placed in special care by a court for the child's care and protection.

The inspection was carried out between 30 June and 2 July in response to "a cluster of serious incidents and allegations of misconduct against staff members", and "the lack of assurances provided by the service on how these incidents and allegations were being managed". 

It was carried out to measure progress in relation to managing absconding behaviour, which was the focus of the previous risk-based inspection in February 2020.

The report found that the welfare and safety of children placed in the centre, prior to and at the time of the inspection, could not be guaranteed. 

The children who met with inspectors did not raise concerns about their immediate safety, but the report states they were not always confident that staff could safeguard them from risks posed by other children placed in the unit.

It says the governance and management arrangements were not adequate and it practice by a small number of staff was not well managed and risk management systems were not strong enough.

The procedures in place to manage allegations of misconduct against staff members according to the report, in particular where their behaviour posed a potential risk to children, were not always implemented in a safe or well informed way. 

As a result, the service could not pre-empt and potentially prevent some of the incidents which occurred. 

Reports of these concerns to Tusla social workers lacked essential detail, and did not ensure timely notification of concerns to An Garda Síochána or the sharing of appropriate information.