Child hospitalised with head-lice as neglect goes unnoticed in lockdown, says report 1 month ago

Child hospitalised with head-lice as neglect goes unnoticed in lockdown, says report

"She had a low mood different to other children..."

A child who was hospitalised with head-lice has spurred fears that more cases of neglect have gone unnoticed during lockdown.

A new report by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP) has detailed concerns surrounding issues of child neglect during the Covid-19 pandemic amid school closures.

According to the project, some cases would have been noticed earlier if schools did not close last March. Published today, the report details 48 cases of child neglect from the second half of 2020, one which saw a child hospitalised due to a severe case of head-lice, ring worm and scabies.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) sought an interim care order for the girl and another sibling from the same household. A supervision order was sought for an older child, a teenage boy.

A court order was sought after the first child's release from hospital. According to the CFA's solicitor, "The court was told that the mother had a mild intellectual disability and the father had not been engaging with the social work department.

“The crux of this case is a failure to provide basic care to the children resulting in head-lice infestation, the shaving of one child’s head and the hospitalisation of the other.

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"It speaks to more fundamental concerns of hygiene and insight in the family home.”

A paediatric consultant told the court that the girl had the "most serious" case of head-line they had ever seen. They added that the child had lice for about three weeks, and scabies for about one week, before she was examined.

After the family's home was examined, the Garda Child Protection Unit reported a lack of hygienic cleaning facilities, much rubbish and clothing on the floors, and soiled mattresses. According to the report, the children will be placed with a family soon.

In another case, a school principal said that before Covid, one child "regularly appeared very down," and that there was “a neediness about her as she might walk around with the teacher on the yard rather than engaging with her own friends.

"She had a low mood different to other children and that was why we were so concerned.”

The principal added that once schools closed last year, Zoom calls were organised but that the girl rarely attended.