St. Clare’s Unit
Temple Street Children’s University Hospital
Tel.: (01) 874 5214 / 878 4345
St. Clare’s Unit, Temple Street & St. Louise’s Unit, OLCHC Joint Conference 2017
The Sexual Abuse of Children in a Cyber Context: Considerations and Guidance for Professionals
Friday March 10th, 2017, Cusack Stand, Croke Park Convention Centre
St. Clare’s Unit is an assessment and therapy service based in Temple St. Hospital for children, young people and their families where sexual abuse is a concern. The catchment area includes North Dublin, Blanchardstown and Clonee. The unit comprises a team of social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists and administrative support. It was set up in 1988.
We meet families from many different backgrounds and cultures every day. Interpreters are available to any family that may need it, and we are committed to providing a service that is culturally sensitive, and meets the needs of every family that attends.
If a social worker has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child may have been sexually abused then the child can be referred to St. Clare’s Unit. However, it is important to remember that not all children will require the same service and therefore, not all children will be referred to or attend St. Clare’s Unit. Each case is dealt with individually and decisions made in accordance with what is best for the child.
Where a referral to St. Clare’s is decided upon, the social worker will complete a referral form with the parents and forward this to St. Clare’s Unit. Prior to accepting a referral, and in order to provide as helpful a service as possible, a meeting might occur between the various professionals who the family has had contact with, including the social worker and Gardaí.
For further information relating to this, please click here
When there is concern that a child or young person may have been sexually abused, the social workers in the Child & Family Agency (Túsla) ask us to help find out what has happened, to offer an opinion on what the child says and to outline further plans on how best to help a child and family. This assessment is separate to any Garda investigation that may be proceeding regarding the sexual abuse concerns.
When the assessment is complete (usually within 4 to 6 weeks) the conclusions of the assessment are shared with the family and any recommendations are discussed. An assessment report will then be sent to the referring Social Work Department.
To attend St. Clare’s Unit, a referral must be made by the local Social Work Department in Tùsla. However, professionals and parents can contact us directly to discuss any queries by contacting us at 01 8784345/8745214 from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.
If you have a concern about sexual abuse, initial contact should be made with your local Social Work Department Duty Team in the Child and Family Agency (Tùsla).
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
What should we expect when attending St. Clare’s for assessment?
St. Clare’s Unit is a safe, family-friendly location. We know this can be an anxious time for you and your family. You will probably receive a letter informing you of your first appointment with us, but if you have questions before this first appointment please feel free to call us beforehand with any questions or concerns you might have.
What will happen in the first appointment?
At your first appointment two members of staff will meet with you. This first appointment is generally for parents or carers only, and it is important to see both parents/carers where possible. We sometimes see parents/carers together, and sometimes separate appointments are given. We will be talking to you about your child’s early years and gaining a wider picture of your family’s life, as well as the current concern. At this appointment, (if together with you we decide to meet with your child), you will be given advice on how to prepare your child for their visit.
How long does the first appointment take?
This appointment usually lasts for around 1½ hours. Parents/carers may be offered a second appointment if more time is needed.
What happens during my child’s first appointment?
The first appointment with your child and generally lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on his/her age. If your child is young we have toys and art materials to use while talking. Older children and teenagers often prefer just to talk. This can be explained further when we meet with you.
Will I be able to sit in on my child’s first appointment?
No, only professionals directly involved are involved in meeting with your child. This is to reduce the possible stress that might be placed on the child, and to provide a neutral setting for them to talk. After meeting with your child we meet with you for feedback. It can be advisable to bring an extra person to this appointment for support and to sit with your child in the waiting room when we are giving feedback to you.
How many times will my child have to come for an assessment appointment?
This depends on the child and family, but usually children attend between 2 and 6 times
What happens when the assessment is completed?
When an assessment is completed, the assessment team will write a report which will be provided to the referring Túsla social worker. The assessment team will provide an opinion regarding the concern of sexual abuse and make recommendations about what will best help the child and family, and perhaps a referral will be made to St. Clare’s therapy service, or an external service.
Due to issues of confidentiality the report remains in St. Clare’s Unit, copies will not be provided to the parents/carers, however they are welcome to come and read the report in St. Clare’s when it is ready.
What do I tell my child about coming to St. Clare’s Unit for an assessment?
“You might tell your child: “We are going to St. Clare’s, which is a special place where young people talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of young people about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
For further information regarding the assessment process please click the links below
- St. Clare’s also has a specialist therapy service for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and their families.
- If an opinion has been provided that the child has been able to give an account of sexual abuse, he/she may attend the Therapy Service. This opinion may have been provided by the Assessment Team in St. Clare’s Unit or another designated professional such as a Social Worker employed by Tùsla.
- The assessment team will make recommendations based on the child’s presentation, what is disclosed and what the child’s needs are, and will pass these recommendations on to the appropriate service and thus a referral may be made to the Therapy service in St. Clare’s.
- A combination of therapy can be offered, including individual child therapy, parent support and family therapy. Groups are also provided to young people and parents.
For further information regarding the therapy service please click here
(a) Information for young people and their families
(b) Information for teenagers attending therapy.
Here are some of the things parents have had to say about St. Clare’s:
“The staff were very compassionate and understanding”
“I would like to thank most sincerely the staff of St. Clare’s for how kind and gentle they were to my daughter and for making her feel safe and for hearing her.”
“I was kept well-informed throughout the process of assessment”
“The facilities in St. Clare’s Unit were very good and clean. My son enjoyed playing with the toys.”
Getting to St. Clare’s
Please follow the link below for further information on how to get to Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Once you arrive, the porter at main reception will help to direct you to the Unit.
St. Clare’s Unit offers consultations to services in order to support them in their ongoing work with a child or family. Consultations aim to explore particular issues or concerns relating to sexual abuse. They are generally offered in situations where a separate referral of a child for assessment or therapy to St Clare’s Unit is not indicated or deemed to be helpful. Consultations can range from between one to three sessions depending on agreed need. They are short term rather than on-going, and are not supervision.
Examples of consultations include:
- Providing advice to professionals who have concerns relating to a sexualised environment that a child has been exposed to, but no disclosure of sexual abuse has been made
- Where in depth interviews of a child have already occurred and the HSE is seeking advice relating to offering an opinion of credibility.
- In cases where professionals are already or intending to work therapeutically with a child/family where child sexual abuse is an issue and would value an opportunity to consult with St Clare’s on this aspect of their work.
Both the Assessment and Therapy Teams are available to provide training. Previous training has included:
- Training provided to Social Work Departments regarding interviewing children and developing skills and expertise in this area for example
- Teaching on professional training courses.
Presentations at national and international conferences
International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN 2013)
Joint Conference with St. Louise’s Unit, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin
- What Do I Need to Know? Navigating intimate boundaries & privacy in children’s lives today. (2014)
- Permission to Speak: What Next? Effectively listening to children; exploring the role of society, the organisation and the individual (2013).
- Overcoming Challenges in Child Sexual Abuse Intervention (2012).
The title of our next conference will be announced in the coming year
Please find below our recommended links below for information for young people, parents and professionals on a range of issues including internet safety, sexuality, sexual abuse, parenting, support, mental health and more.
The Child and Family Agency encompassing Child Protection and Welfare Services (local social work teams), Educational Welfare Services, Psychological Services Alternative Care, Family and Locally Based Community Supports, Early Years Services and Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence Services.
ReachOut.com is dedicated to taking the mystery out of mental health. Providing quality assured mental health information and inspiring real life stories to help other young people get through tough times.
Teen-Line Ireland is a free-phone service open every day of the week from 8pm to 11pm. All calls are confidential.
This website aims to support and empower young people to make clear and informed decisions about their relationships. Includes advice for parents and young people
‘A youth powered national non-profit working agency to empower young people aged 16-25 to create positive personal and social change. Provides Information and supportive factsheets on topics such as sexual health, mental health, politics and protest, equality, the environment, education and work
Headstrong is The National Centre for Youth Mental Health supporting young people’s mental health in Ireland. , working with communities and statutory services to empower young people to develop the skills, self-confidence and resilience to cope with mental health challenges
Supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people in Ireland.
Pieta House provides a free, therapeutic approach to people who are in suicidal distress and those who engage in self-harm.
Bodywhys is the national voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders. Their aim is to ensure support, awareness and understanding of eating disorders amongst the wider community as well as advocating for the rights and healthcare needs of people affected by eating disorder
Suicide Prevention and support. This website helps you understand more about what’s getting you down, and hopefully find a few ways to help. It gives you a whole bunch of useful numbers, names and links to experts in all the most common teenage mental health issues.
Childline services are all free and confidential. You don’t have to have a problem to contact. Childline can help you figure out your own solutions and are there to listen.
If you are worried about your safety on the internet, bullying online or strangers
An Garda Síochána is the national police service of Ireland. Crimes can be reported in person at a designated station or by calling the confidential line. Garda Confidential No : 1 800 666 111.
The hotline service provides an anonymous facility for the public to report suspected illegal content encountered on the Internet, in a secure and confidential way.
A U.K based organisation to respond when life becomes complicated and provide support around family breakdown, aggression in the home, bullying, risky teenage behaviour and mental health concerns of both parents and their children. Information on resources, support and on your rights
Barnardos works directly with the children and families, providing services and support in 40 centres around the country. They campaign for the rights of all children in Ireland, and provide training and knowledge resources to childcare professionals.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is to make sure that the government and other people who make decisions about young people really think about what is best for young people. They support children and young people, to find out more about their rights. They receive and where possible look into complaints made by young people or by adults on young people’s behalf.
To improve the lives of all children and young people by ensuring Ireland’s laws, policies and services comply with the standards set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To promote the rights of all children living in Ireland, regardless of race, religion or nationality. We speak out on behalf of children, especially in cases of gross violations of their rights.
If you are an adult or a parent or carer and need support around your own experiences
Providing support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and violence in Ireland. Services include advocacy, counselling and online support.
The HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) is a professional, confidential counselling and psychotherapy service available free of charge in all regions of the Health Service Executive. The client group are adults who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood with priority given to adult survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland.
We work to make women and children safe from domestic violence, offer support, provide hope to women affected by abuse and work for justice and social change.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a national organisation offering a wide range of services to women and men who are affected by rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or childhood sexual abuse.
If you are a parent and want to keep up-to-date or need support
An online resource for parents and teachers including information on education, learning and bullying.
“ReassureMe.com” is focused on promoting the safe use of technology by children and adolescents, contributing to a culture of responsibility that will allow young people to benefit more and more from these technologies.
The Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) was founded in 1981 by a group of foster carers and social workers. The Association offers its members support and information and keeps them up to date with regard to changes in practice in relation to foster care.
We offer support, guidance and information on all aspects of being a parent and the reassurance that, whatever the problem, you’re not the first parent to face it.
One Family offers support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
News Story 10th January 2017: How helping child abusers can keep kids safe
Experts from NIAP and St Clare’s Unit, both of which are based at Temple Street contributed to this article