Homeless Children in Dublin and Northeast








Do we have homeless children in our area, particularly in the Dublin region?
Do we know how many and what can be done for homeless children?

Cllr. Pat Crimmins


Crisis Intervention Service
Background Information
In the ten Local Health Offices that compromise the former EHRA
(Eastern Health Board) Region the Crisis Intervention Service (CIS)
provides an out of hours emergency social work service to young people
aged under 18 years who are in crisis. The service was established in
1992 and originally responded to young people between the ages of 12
and 18 years. Since 2005 the CIS was expanded to include all children
up to the age of 18 years.

The service is compromised of:

– A day Social Work Team.

– An Emergency Social Work Service which is available from Monday to
Sunday between 6.00p.m. and 6.00a.m. and each Saturday/Sunday and
Public Holiday from 9.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. all year round.

– A Night Reception Centre which is provided in Lefroy House for young
people who regularly present to the Out of Hours service. The service
is available from 5.00p.m. to 11.00p.m. and provides one to one
support with meals and showers for young people. This service is also
available to young people who are not availing of the Out of Hours

– Emergency Foster Care Families who are available to provide a place
of safety as required for three nights for children under the age of
12 years of age.

– Seven emergency residential beds available on a night by night basis
at Lefroy House, Eden Quay for young people aged between 12 to 17
years of age.

– One emergency residential bed available on a night by night basis at
Sherrard House Residential Unit, North Circular Road for young girls
aged between 12 to 17 years of age.

– Four emergency beds available for a period of two weeks with CIS
designated Foster Care/Supported Lodgings for young people aged
between 12 to 17 years of age.

– The Crisis Intervention Service Partnership (CISP) which is an
Outreach Service in partnership between the Health Service Executive
and Focus Ireland. It was developed to ensure that there is a
comprehensive range of services available to support young people out
of home or availing of emergency accommodation. The CISP team is
available 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. The Partnership works
with the local area social work teams to monitor the risk and welfare
of the young person while out of home. The Partnership is the internal
co-ordinator within the CIS services to ensure that there is overall
capacity within the service so that it can respond to ongoing demands.
The service works up individual plans with each young person designed
to ensure their welfare is being monitored, and that they are linked
with the appropriate supports. The service works closely with Focus
Ireland Outreach to provide out of hours supports pending placement in
emergency accommodation.

Referrals are received to the Crisis Intervention Service by telephone
from service providers working at night, for example An Garda
Siochana, Hospitals, Ambulance Services. Referrals are accepted in
relation to:

–  Concerns regarding the immediate welfare of children.

–  Young people in crisis seeking emergency accommodation.

– Young people who are identified by the Garda National Immigration
Bureau as separated children seeking asylum.

The Out of Hours is an intervention service and provides an emergency
response at night. All details of contacts with children are passed to
the local social work team by the start of the working day. The local
social work team are the case managers and will follow up on any
further assessments or interventions necessary.

The remit of the Crisis Intervention Service is to respond to crisis
situations whereby a child or young person requires immediate
placement, either due to child protection concerns, where there is a
breakdown in family relationships, placement breakdowns or due to
accommodation issues. CIS aims to prevent children or young people
from having to access emergency care unnecessarily. Where it is
appropriate, CIS tries to place children or young people with
alternative family members or friends or mediate between
children/young people and parents where there is a breakdown in family
relations. The Crisis Intervention Service put a significant amount of
effort into ensuring that placing a child or young person within
emergency residential units or foster care is a last resort.

Summary of Admissions to Crisis Intervention Service 2011
During the year 2011, the total number of children who were
accommodated in CIS emergency placements was 288. This figure relates
to 109 children aged 12 years and under and 179 young people aged
12-17 years.

The breakdown for reasons for admission for both age categories is
outlined below.

Reasons for admission for children aged under 12 years:

Reason for referral % of all admissions
Garda Invoked Section 12 76.3%
Social Worker 8%
Immigration 6.1%
Hospital referral 6.1%
In need of medical attention 2.6%
Relationship breakdown at home >1 (0.88)%
Homeless 0
Total 100%

Reasons for admission to CIS for 12-17 year olds, 2011:
Reason for referral % of all referred
Relationship breakdown 50.3%
Behavioural problems 15%
Child protection 10%
Residential Placement breakdown 9.5%
Seeking accommodation 4.5%
Homeless 3.4%
Criminal behaviour 2.8%
Foster placement breakdown 1.7%
Immigration 1.1%
Other 1.7%
Total 100%

Summary of Admissions to CIS from January- June 2012
During the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2012, a total of 141 children/young
people were referred to the CIS for emergency accommodation.

Between January-June 2012, 48 individual children aged 12 years and
younger were placed in CIS emergency foster placements. The reasons
for admissions/referrals are outlined below.

Reasons for admission for children aged under 12 years:
Reason for referral % of all admissions
Child Protection/Claims of abuse 73%
Parent unable to care for child 12.5%
Immigration 10.4%
Hospital referral 0%
In need of medical attention 0%
Foster Placement breakdown 4.1%
Homeless 0%
Total 100%

Between January-June 2012, 93 individual young people aged 12-17 years
of age were placed in CIS emergency residential/foster care/supported
lodgings placements. The reasons for admissions/referrals are outlined

Reasons for admissions to CIS for 12-17 year olds January-June 2012:
Reason for referral % of all referred
Family Relationship breakdown 68%
Behavioural problems 2.1%
Child protection 16.1%
Residential Placement breakdown 6.4%
Homeless 1%
Criminal behaviour 1.%
Foster placement breakdown 3.2%
Immigration /SCSA 2.1%
Total 100%


–  As demonstrated in the above tables, the majority of referrals to
CIS emergency accommodation for young people aged 12-17 years of age
relate to family relationship breakdowns. This phrase relates to
situations whereby a parent/guardian is stating that they are refusing
to have their child return to the family home due to the young person
engaging in anti-social behaviour such as being under the influence of
substances unknown, being aggressive and involved in criminalised

– The young person is in need of immediate accommodation on the night
due to the parent/guardian’s decision not to let them return to their
home; so technically while are they are in need of emergency
accommodation, the young person and their parents are not presenting
as “homeless” as their parents/guardians have a place of residency,
but are refusing access to their child. The CIS is clear that when
young people are presenting in such circumstances or where the primary
referral reason is that they are in need of accommodation due to other
factors that are not related to being “homeless” they are classified
as either “seeking accommodation” or “family relationship breakdown”.

– The CIS is aware that the referencing of young people as “seeking
accommodation” due to relationship/placement breakdowns is open to
differential interpretation.

– Where there is a young person whose primary reason for referral to
CIS is because they and their parents/guardians are homeless; they
have no accommodation or home address, then they are classified as
homeless in CIS statistics.

– No children aged 12 years of age and under have been referred to the
CIS during 2011 and so far during 2012 due to homelessness

Pat Dunne,
Regional Operations Manager,
Children and Families,
HSE Dublin North East.