Obudsman Seeks Homeless Childrens' Views

Professionals who work with homeless children are being urged to make contact with officials in a bid improve the growing problem of vulnerable children living on the streets.

Emily Logan, The Ombudsman for Children's Office, is hoping to get in contact with homeless children to better understand their experiences of homelessness and crisis intervention.

The Ombudsman has said she believes that the Ryan Report and the Roscommon Report detailed graphically the consequences of not listening to such voices.

"Homeless children are extremely vulnerable and generally live very chaotic lives,"she said.

"I am very keen to understand the level of interaction they have with the State and the type and quality of services and supports that that are receiving."

According to a recent figures up to 800 children were homeless and a quarter of these children were under the age of 12. In these cases most of the children ended up in emergency hostels and foster care.

Similarly a study released on Monday, by domestic violence charity Sonas Housing, has revealed that three times more women and children were homeless in Ireland due to domestic violence, since last year.

In comparison to 70 women and 88 children seeking the charity’s help in 2009, 184 women and 234 children sought refuge through the charity in 2010. This is a 163 % increase on the use of its services for the same period last year.

The Ombudsman is requesting that any professionals working with or who know of homeless children who may wish to make their experiences known contact her Office in the coming weeks.

This request is part of a wider piece of work undertaken by the Ombudsman. Ms Logan said that her office had received a number of complaints, some made on behalf of young people, others directly by children who were homeless and in need of crisis invention and other services.

These complaints raised a variety of issues regarding how the services operate.

Earlier this year Ms Logan commenced a preliminary examination of systemic issues relating to homeless services and other crisis services.

Last May she told the Health Service Executive (HSE) she intended to carry out a "systemic investigation" into the provision of services to homeless children.

In a statement today, the Ombudsman said she was awaiting outstanding information from the HSE.

However Ms Logan said she was happy with the co-operation the HSE have given so far.


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