THERE were 24 complaints to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) from County Donegal in 2020, it has been revealed.
The OCO’s Annual Report shows that complaints from Donegal accounted for 2% of the total number of calls.
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 Co. Donegal. While this is not very surprising, based on population spread, it shows that we still have to work hard to let people in Co. 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.
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 said: “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 Co. Donegal and all over the country.”Tags: