Special Care is intended to be short-term, stabilising and safe care in a secure therapeutic environment, which aims to enable a child to return to a less secure placement as soon as possible based on need. A placement in Special Care requires an order from the High Court.
Special Care units differ from general residential care in a number of ways: the units are secure, the child is detained, they offer higher staff to young person ratios, education is on-site and there is specialised input such as psychology services. The child is not detained as a result of criminal offences, but for their own safety and welfare.
There are three Special Care units currently, with a total of 17 places, under the governance of National Special Care Services. They are:
• Ballydowd, Dublin – a mixed gender unit
• Coovagh House, Limerick – a mixed gender unit
• Gleann Alainn, Cork – a female unit
At the end of December 2017, Tusla reported that 16 children were resident in Special Care Units, representing 0.3% of the 6,189 children in care. All children in Special Care Units had an allocated social worker and all had a written care plan.
Special Care Units are currently inspected by HIQA under Section 69 of the Child Care Act, 1991 and inspection reports are published on their website. HIQA published new National Standards for Special Care Units in March 2015.
Further data relating to children in care is contained here.
Snap shot of monthly and quarterly data is available here.