Watchdog’s fears for teens leaving centre to do drugs

THE health watchdog has expressed concern about a State-run home for troubled teenagers after inspectors found evidence children were leaving it frequently to abuse drugs.

Drug paraphernalia was discovered in one child’s room, while children were said to be regularly returning to the open centre under the influence of illegal substances.

The concerns were raised in a report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) about an unidentified residential centre on the outskirts of a town in Co Kerry.

The home, which is run by Tusla, the child and family agency, has space for five children.

However, due to staff shortages, just three were being cared for at the time of an inspection last July.

Although HIQA’s inspectors found the centre’s management and staff were dedicated and committed, they did not find that the centre was operated in such a way that the children were always safe and protected from themselves.

HIQA said it was discussing the report’s findings with Tusla.

In a statement, Tusla said it noted and accepted the findings.

It said a number of service improvements had been made since the inspection took place.