Closed Tusla centre in Donegal will not reopen as residential unit

 

The unit at Knocknamona in Letterkenny closed last year due to staff shortages  

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New premises secured for Tusla in Leitrim

A residential unit for children in Donegal which closed over 12 months ago will not be reopening as a residential centre .

The unit at Knocknamona in Letterkenny closed last year due to staff shortages.

There have been calls for it to reopen since.

The unit was closed by Tusla in May last year after concerns were raised by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) about staffing levels.

It was believed at the time that children in the centre were moved to a centre 200km away in the midlands .

In response to a query from the Donegal Democrat, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, said that the centre will be “re-allocated to provide service to support children in the community who would otherwise require a placement in residential care”.

Just last week, Senator Pádraig  MacLochlainn said he was concerned that Tusla had advertised for the position of manager for the unit last year and had identified a successful candidate but that this position had been placed on hold for months.

Tusla said the re-allocated unit “will provide a range of therapeutic supports for children and adults, family support services, and educational support service”.

“This decision is in line with Tusla’s focus on prevention and early intervention, and to provide therapeutic services to children and families in the community and in Care placements,” Tusla said in a statement.

“Re-allocating this unit will enhance the capacity to keep children in their family environments, where appropriate, with wraparound support services in place. Tusla is currently agreeing timelines for the commencement of the new service.

“Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’, the national policy framework for children, requires that resources be directed where they can be most effective and meet the greatest need. Tusla’s approach to commissioning is based on an analysis of needs to ensure resources are used in an effective, sustainable and accountable manner to improve outcomes for children and families in Ireland.”

Responding to the development, Senator MacLochlainn said the sentiments expressed by Tusla do not reflect the reality of actions by Tusla in Donegal.

“I have criticised them in Donegal because if you look at the duty or intake officers, the front line social workers, at one stage their number had been halved from what they were under the HSE. They are starting to address that and recruit more people. But if it was the case that Tulsa had ample resources and no queues or backlogs, you could see where they are coming from, but that's not the case. Unfortunatel , they are involved in a lot of crisis management in Donegal.”

Senator MacLochlainn said some cases required children and young adults being put into a residential setting.

“Unfortunately there is a very small number of cases that require supervised care for the children's safety and the family's safety. Sometimes the situation is required when you have children or young adults with profound mental health issues or behavioural issues, that such a setting is a great option to have.”