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5 - Oberstown and the Process of Change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2022

Ursula Kilkelly
Affiliation:
University College Cork
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Summary

Introduction

Chapters 3 and 4 traced the development of Irish law and policy on youth justice and detention and introduced the law and governance arrangements with respect to the child-centred approach to detention in Ireland. The national goal of introducing this model for all children under 18 years of age, in line with international standards, was clear. In practical terms, this had two main elements. First, the three remaining children detention schools were to be merged, creating a specialist national facility providing child-centred care for all children on detention and remand orders, including those previously held in prison – Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Second, the construction of the new facility was designed to ensure that the child-care model took place in an appropriately designed, modern environment. This chapter documents how these two goals were achieved, through a process of change and development.

If the destination of national policy was clear, it did not come with a map as to the route. As Tilley and Jones (2013, p 93) note with regard to managing change in health and social care, ‘[w] hile the case for change may be strong, there is no blueprint or formula for making it work’. In the case of Oberstown, a series of interconnected measures were required to effect the necessary change. These included: the design and completion of the new building; the creation of a new model of care for child detention that is consistent with children's rights; and the development of a supportive environment for staff, through clarity of purpose and direction. This chapter explains how these goals were achieved, in line with international standards. In order to track the progress achieved, the annual reports of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspection process help to provide an objective assessment of the various developments and improvements. First, to provide important context, the scale of the challenge is described.

Introducing the challenge

As described in Chapter 4, Irish law and policy provides that all children under 18 years of age who are detained by the courts should receive care and education in a single, specialized setting.

Type
Chapter
Information
Advancing Children's Rights in Detention
A Model for International Reform
, pp. 68 - 86
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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