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Abstract

The Ryan Report, published in 2009, was not the first review of child welfare services to raise disquiet. Nevertheless it was unique in that its recommendations went beyond the deficits exposed by the report to comment on the entire child protection system. It is generally acknowledged that the model of child welfare that was the object of the Ryan Report no longer operates, and has been replaced by community based services and a system of regulated out of home care. However, on publication of the report, the government appeared to question whether, with what we now know, we can be assured that today’s services are fit for purpose. A number of reforms are underway as a result of the report, but the degree to which they are likely to achieve better outcomes for children and families is open to challenge. This paper will draw on existing sources of knowledge about the state of child protection in Ireland, including statistical data, empirical research, reviews and policy papers. It will also look at how other jurisdictions have used comparable data sources to tackle similar issues and consider how we can benefit from international experience.

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