Zappone on fact finding mission to New York

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A fact finding mission to New York led by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone began yesterday with a meeting with detectives of New Yorks Special Victims Unit, Child Protection and Medical teams as well as legal services.

The motivation behind Minister Zappone’s stateside trip is to improve state agency co-operation on child protection and she will by joined by Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, representatives from the Garda, child and family agency Tusla and other government officials who co-operate in the provision of child protection services there.

Among those meeting the Irish delegation yesterday was the NYC Commissioner for the Administration of Children’s Services, David Hansell and today the delegation will visit Child Advocacy Centres in the Bronx – which earlier this year were highlighted as an example which Ireland could follow.

Speaking from New York Minister Zappone said:

“As we increase investment in our child protection services to over €750m for the first time ever – it is important that we look at best practice in other countries.

“Our children, young people and families deserve the best possible care, supports and protections. Over the coming days I look forward to seeing at first hand the work being carried out in New York, and in particular in the Bronx.

“I look forward to hearing about the experiences of specialised units of the NYPD, Child Welfare Agencies and Prosecutors. Our discussions will have a special focus on the co-location of such services in special child advocacy centres.”

“In New York we will be looking at how models and practices here could benefit children, young people and families in our own country.”

Dr Shannon added:

“I very much welcome the initiative by the Minister to examine the co-location of child-protection disciplines as a means of promoting meaningful inter-agency cooperation through genuine partnership in child protection.

“The Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) model offers many advantages, including reductions in expenditure in pursuing child abuse investigations, and court proceedings.

“The US National Children’s Alliance estimates that the CAC model achieves $1,000 savings per case compared to non-CAC approaches.  The CAC model provides significantly higher rates of coordinated investigations and increased successful prosecution of child abuse perpetrators.”

Also later on today Minister Zappone will Address the UN Security Council.