A special care unit for vulnerable girls was in crisis during an unannounced visit by inspectors, their report has revealed.
There have been more than 25 incidents of absconding from Gleann Alainn in Co Cork over the last year, including two the week before an inspection when a child took a set of keys from a member of staff.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said reports that girls did not always feel safe and were bullied and assaulted by other residents was unacceptable.
"All children in care, irrespective of the setting, have a right to feel safe and have their welfare and development promoted," it added.
Gleann Alainn provides secure residential care for up to seven girls aged 11 to 17 who are detained under High Court orders.
There were six children detained in the unit when HIQA's Bronagh Gibson and Sharron Austin visited on October 18 and 19 - just days after the acting unit manager had requested to step down.
"Inspectors found that the unit was in a state of crisis and that this was due primarily to the poor standard of management which impacted negatively on the delivery of a good standard of care to the children, on the day-to-day practices of the staff, and on the capacity of the unit to fulfil its purpose and function," HIQA reported.
They found that since the unit was last inspected in October 2010, management standards had not been met and were having a negative impact on the level of care provided.
Records also revealed many staff were not suitably qualified and there was no evidence of Garda checks for some agency staff.
Care was inconsistent and did not keep the children safe, it said, while extreme challenging behaviour by some children was not dealt with appropriately by staff - some of whom were afraid of one child.