New standards launched to support children living in residential care

Date of publication:

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres alongside a guide for children living in residential care.

Over 400 children live in children’s residential centres in Ireland. These centres are homes for children who come into care to ensure their needs are met when they cannot live with their own family.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said “HIQA has developed new standards to ensure that children receive the best possible care and support while they live in care. The standards show children what to expect when they live in residential care and show those involved in their care what a child- centred, safe and effective children’s residential centre should look like.”

“The standards detail how centres and the people who work with children in residential care can ensure each child gets the care and support they need, that they are listened to, that their rights are protected and promoted and that they are involved in making decisions about their lives both while they are in care and when they are moving on from care.”

The National Standards were developed based on international best practice and the views and feedback of children with experience of living in care, their families, the people involved in caring for them, advocacy groups and government bodies.

Ms Flynn continued: “As living in care can be a confusing and difficult time for children, HIQA has also developed a new guide called Your guide to children’s residential care to support children and their families to understand what living in care is like. The guide covers key areas such as children’s rights, the roles of staff members who care for them, their files and how they are supported to prepare to leave care.”

The National Standards, which replace the previous 2001 standards, have been approved by the Minister for Health in consultation with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and apply to all children’s residential centres.

The National Standards, Your guide to children’s residential care and other resources to support centres to implement the standards are available from the link below.


For further information please contact:

Marty Whelan
Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480 / 086 244 7623

Notes to the Editor:

  • A children’s residential centre provides a home for children and young people who come into care and ensures that their needs are met when they cannot live with their own family. These centres are run by The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) or a voluntary or private agency.
  • These standards will replace the 2001 National Standards for Children’s
  • Residential Centres developed by the then Department of Health and Children.
  • Figures provided by Tusla in October 2018 show that there were 157 children’s residential centres across Ireland, with 414 children living in them.
  • The standards were developed with a diverse range of informed and interested parties, including an advisory group and 16 focus groups with 142 children and staff working with children in residential care.
  • A national public consultation on the draft national standards was carried out during a six-week period in 2017, which received 40 detailed submissions from a wide range of interested parties.
  • HIQA has also published a Statement of outcomes document, which outlines the engagement and feedback received from both focus groups and the public consultation, a list of frequently asked questions relating to the National Standards, and a Background document which presents national and international best practice that informed the development of these standards. These are available on
  • HIQA currently has the power to inspect children’s residential centres run by Tusla, while Tusla inspects voluntary and private-run centres. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is currently drafting new regulations which will give HIQA responsibility for registering and inspecting of all children’s residential centres.