05/08/2021

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Two percent of Ombudsman for Children’s Office complaints came from Donegal in 2020

Increase in contacts from children last year due to concerns over education disruption during pandemic

Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon

Two percent of Ombudsman for Children’s Office complaints came from Donegal in 2020

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) received 24 (2%) of its complaints from Donegal in 2020, its Annual Report has revealed. 

'2020 Childhood Paused' reveals that the OCO received 1,187 complaints about services provided to children in 2020.

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said: “We do not know where every single one of our complaints comes from – some complaints relate to more than one area, or there can be more than one child involved. However, we know for sure that 24 complaints came from Donegal. While this is not very surprising, based on population spread, it shows that we still have to work hard to let people in Donegal know that we are here.”

In 2020, 6% of the complaints made to the OCO came directly from children, this is an increase from 3% in 2019. This increase can largely be attributed to those who contacted us in relation to education issues and is an indication of the level of upset among students. 100% of the children who contacted the OCO mentioned the impact of the pandemic on their mental health of children.

Once again, the main area of the public service people complained about in 2020 was education – making up 46% of complaints. In 2019, 49% of complaints were about education.

New issues that came up in 2020 included:

Remote learning and the digital divide
Lack of clarity about State examinations
Mental impact on young people
Calculated grades
Children in high risk households who feared bringing Covid-19 home
Impact on children with special educational needs
 

Dr Muldoon, a native of Donegal Town, said there can be no return to “normal” for children after the pandemic.

He added: “2020 was a devastating year for children. We heard heart-breaking stories of children with additional needs regressing and about the turmoil the uncertainty caused. Children were grappling with the digital divide and they worried about parents who had lost their jobs as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. We know that this impacted children in Donegal and all over the country." 

Dr Muldoon encouraged children, parents or those working with children in Co. Donegal to contact the OCO if they have an issue that the office may be able to resolve. 

“The OCO offers a free, impartial service to anybody who thinks a child has been treated unfairly by a public body or Government funded organisation. We offer advice, help to resolve the issue as soon as possible and if necessary we will carry out an investigation. Visit www.oco.ie for information on how to contact the office or make a complaint.”

 

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