Marginalisation and Oppression | Child Protection & Migrant Families in Ireland

07 April 2017

HeadStuff. by Carol Ballantine

Migrant families in Ireland are ten times more likely to find themselves subject to child protection interventions than native Irish families.1 This was the central message of a timely conference hosted by the New Communities Partnership (NCP) on Thursday March 30th. I was interested because, in my limited research with African women to date I had already noticed a widespread suspicion of child protection services. Among themselves, migrant women express bafflement at Irish parenting practices, accompanied by a deep dread that their children will be taken away from them for no discernible reason.

The Childcare Law Reporting Project (CCLRP) monitors court cases involving children, and is the only project that currently collects ethnicity data related to child protection cases. Dr. Carol Coulter shared the detailed analysis that the CCLRP has carried out in its reports. 26% of the cases they monitored in 2015 involved children with at least one migrant parent (this does not include Traveller children). A majority of these come from African countries, mainly West African.

According to Daniela Jurj of the NCP, there are three main reasons why migrant families find themselves at the receiving end of child protection interventions. In some cases, children have suffered violence or abuse in their homes. Other cases see domestic violence within the home, almost always against the mother. Many cases involve serious mental health problems among the parents – many of whom are living in Direct Provision or lived there for a period of time.

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