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Immigrant parent families make up 26.4% of child protection cases, says report

Published 30/11/2015

A study published by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, analysed data from almost 1,200 welfare cases
A study published by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, analysed data from almost 1,200 welfare cases

Around one in four (26.4%) child protection cases involved families where at least one parent is an immigrant, according to a new report.

A further 4.4% related to families from the Travelling community and a disproportionate number of those facing legal action suffered cognitive disabilities or mental health problems, according to the Final Report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).

The study, published today by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, analysed data from almost 1,200 welfare cases over the past three years.

Researchers found the vast majority of cases involved a single parent, usually the mother, with 11% married and 9% co-habiting.

One in seven cases related to a parent who suffered from an intellectual disability or mental illness while 20% had serious drug or alcohol issues.

Neglect was the most common issue to arise, and was often accompanied by the parent having problems themselves, the report said.

Physical or emotional abuse allegations were made in 10% of cases while child sex abuse was alleged in 4% of instances.

Some 30% of the children had psychological, educational or physical special needs.

The CCLRP was set up in November 2012 and has published more than 300 reports detailing the reasons why children are taken into care.

Data was collected on 1,194 cases in the District Court and 78 in the High Court.

Meanwhile, the report also recorded variations in the level of dedicated court resources with only cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford holding frequent child care days.

Elsewhere, such cases are added to already hefty family law lists, it was claimed.

CCLRP director Dr Carol Coulter said: "Our findings underline once again the urgent need for a dedicated family court, which would hear both private and public family law, setting aside dedicated days for child care cases."

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