37. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the welfare and well-being of children in direct provision centres following revelations that children there have been denied food while sick; and if this issue has been drawn to his attention. [45935/18]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I am aware of the recent report of a sick child in an accommodation centre who was unable to access food on request.
This is a highly regrettable event, and I acknowledge that in this instance, the best interests of the child were not held paramount. RIA requires that all centre staff and management have regard to the best interests of the child in service delivery and additional training will be provided to the centre in question by Department officials.
The manager of the centre concerned has met with and apologised to the family.
All centres under contract to RIA are required to uphold the principles of Children First and to adhere to RIA's Child Protection and Welfare Policy. The Policy states that "The safety and wellbeing of all residents, but particularly children, is our paramount concern. This Policy recognises that all children have the right to be protected from harm, treated with respect, listened to and have their views taken into consideration...This Policy recognises that RIA and centres under contract have a duty of care to all residents". This is the standard that all centre staff and management must meet when providing services to children and their families.
The remit of the Ombudsman for Children has been extended to enable him to investigate complaints relating to the treatment of children in direct provision centres.