New 'One House' Centre Announced For Abused Children

A new trauma centre for sexually abused children is to be piloted in Galway, Ministers have announced.

Dr Katherine Zappone TD, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in conjunction with the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD, announced that a pilot 'One House' centre will be in operation in early 2019.

The joint approach sees three Departments (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Health and Department of Justice and Equality) working together, with the three agencies (Tusla, Health Service Executive and An Garda Síochána), towards establishing this model.

Currently, where there are concerns that a child has been sexually abused, the child has to be interviewed by the Gardai and Tusla child protection social workers and may need to have a forensic and medical examination. At the moment these assessments may all take place in different places at different times. The child and family may then be referred to another service for counselling and support.

Under the proposed model, all services and supports will operate from under one roof. Children who have been abused will be brought to this child friendly centre where they, and their family members, will meet with the Gardai, doctors and social workers who will co-ordinate their assessments so the child does not have to repeat their experiences. The pace at which the care and supports will be provided will be dictated by the child and their family's needs.

Making the announcement, Minister for Children, Dr Zappone said: "I am delighted to say that the pilot centre for a new interagency service to work with children who have been sexually abused, and their families, will open in early 2019 in Galway.

"This new approach is aimed at ensuring children are not re-traumatised by having to recount the details of their ordeal a number of times to different people.

"Together with the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, representatives from the Gardaí, the Child and Family Agency, Tusla and Officials from Department of Justice I have seen at first hand, similar approaches that are working well in New York, Northern Ireland and Oxfordshire.

"Those fact finding missions together with the expertise within our own frontline agencies are allowing us to develop an Irish model – the One House approach funding for our new pilot was secured in Budget 2019."

Minister Flanagan, also said: "The 'One House' pilot centre, will provide fully coordinated services for children and adolescents who have been sexually abused in a child-friendly setting.

"The 'One House' will bring together the forensic, protection, health, therapeutic and policing services in a child centred way. The centre should improve the efficiency and effectiveness of child sexual abuse services and develop specialist expertise, skills and knowledge in this complex area for the benefit of children who have suffered from sexual abuse."

Minister Harris added: "We know the effect multiple interviewing can have on a child who has experienced sexual abuse. It adds to the trauma and the pain children and their families face. These families have already endured so much and we, as a Government, must do everything we can to assist them during this difficult time but also to ease their burden in any way possible.

"That is the aim of this centre - to minimise the trauma a child and their family face by providing a range of services under the one roof. The measure of the success of the project will be in how it assists those affected."


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