There are more than 5,000 children in the care of the State. Official figures from 2007 list the reasons why they are in care. The majority are in care because of ‘family-centred problems’ rather than abuse or neglect indicating children can already be taken into care for a wide range of reasons without a change to the Constitution being necessary.
According to the figures, 39 per cent of children are in care due to abuse or neglect, with seventy per cent of these (or 27 per cent of the overall total) taken into care due to neglect. The next biggest reason (25 per cent) is the inability of parents to cope, which includes problems with housing and/or finance.
The figures also show that, when one excludes from the figures the number of children in care due to abuse (12 per cent), and those in care due to problems, such as drug or alcohol abuse or crime (seven per cent), manifested by the child, 81 per cent are in care due to failures on the part of the parent.
According to the figures, 54 per cent of those children in care are there because of “family-centred problems”. These include the inability of parents to cope with financial or housing problems (as mentioned earlier), but include problems such as mental health issues and physical or intellectual problems in other family members.
Fourteen per cent of children in care were placed there because of the abuse of drugs or alcohol by other family members.
These include children in care due to neglect and family centred problems. Only three per cent of children in care are there due to sexual abuse.