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Twenty-seven children in State care or known to social services died last year logo 03/10/2022 Eilish O Regan

The number of children in State care or known to social services who died last year was 27, three fewer than in 2020 with one child dying by homicide, the report of the panel which reviews these tragedies revealed today.

It highlighted pressure on services as well as delays in responding to concerns as well as assessment.

The National Review Panel (NRP), chaired by Dr Helen Buckley said four young people under 18 years whose deaths were notified were in care at the time of their death, an increase of one on 2020.

The remaining 23 children or young people/adults were known to Tusla and living in their communities at the time of their deaths.

There was a decrease of three in the number of deaths of young adults using aftercare services.

Of the 27 deaths notified in 2021, 14 children died from natural causes and six by suicide.

One child was the victim of homicide, another died after an accident and a third passed away following an overdose.

In the case of another four children the coroner has still to reach a conclusion on the cause of death.

Dr Buckley said: “On behalf of NRP I wish to extend my sincere sympathies to families, friends and all those affected by the deaths of the children and young people reviewed by the National Review Panel in 2021.

"The death of a child is an unthinkable tragedy and one which has a profound effect on many.

“The Covid-19 pandemic continued to have a significant impact on operations in 2021, with many interviews taking place online.

"I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to both family members and Tusla staff for their understanding and patience during this time.”

He said during 2021, four incident reviews were published relating to the deaths of four young people.

Two of the young people were in the care of Tusla at the time of their deaths and both had experienced multiple changes of placement.

"Each review reached a number of conclusions, but in particular noted that pressure on services is a recurring theme,” he said.

“This is having knock-on effects, particularly in respect of delays in response and assessment.

“One of the most important functions of the NRP is to identify obstacles to good practice and areas for learning, and each report contains a section specifically for this purpose.”

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