In 1976, the Department of Education appointed Graham Granville as a childcare advisor to the Department of Education and Inspector of Residential Children’s Homes and Special Schools. This position was one of the recommendations made by the Kennedy Report in 1970.
Mr Graham Granville was appointed to the position of Child Care Advisor in the Department of Education in the mid-1970s. He conducted five inspections of Clifden between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s. In general, these reports were positive although he expressed concern about the aftercare and the socialisation of the children into the community.
In the 1970s, Graham Granville took over as the Department’s General Inspector. His reports were also very favourable of the living conditions and the premises and accommodation. However, there were only three reports for the entire period of the 1970s, namely 1971, 1976 and 1978 because of staff shortages in the Department of Education.
Mr Granville was concerned about the lack of qualifications of the staff and the change in the type of child that was being admitted. A lot of the children were categorised as disturbed. Proposals for the group home system were advocated, and sanction was given, but these plans were not carried through until the 1980s.
Later that month, in an internal memorandum, a senior Department official, having read Mr Granville’s report, suggested that the root cause of the problems in Cappoquin was the lack of male staff in a school that had, until recently, been a home for boys. Mr Granville confirmed that, even with normal discharge, it would take several years to reduce the numbers in Cappoquin to the ideal of about 30, with 15 in each group home. There was general agreement with Mr Granville that the old building needed to be phased out as soon as possible.
In June 1976, Mr Granville furnished a confidential report to three senior officials in the Department of Education, following a visit to Cappoquin when he met with the Resident Manager, and a child psychiatrist who later joined their meeting.
Following the June 1976 visit to Cappoquin, Mr Granville met the Resident Manager and expressed his concern about the presence of older boys who were former pupils and who should have been discharged. He was particularly concerned about two young girls among the children in the institution.
Mr Granville paid a two-day visit in July 1976, and the problem of the older boys had clearly not been addressed, although he got a commitment that they would be sent out to lodgings.
In a follow-up letter, Mr Granville set out in clear terms the steps to be taken to improve the situation. These included the discharge of a number of children, regular reviews of the children’s progress, regular staff meetings, and better contact with the social workers with regard to Health Board children, and he enclosed a number of Master Index Books for record keeping. He decided for the time being not to transfer some of the younger children out of Cappoquin, on the assurance from the Resident Manager that she would follow up the proposed new unit.
Mr Granville observed that there was a major problem on the educational front if the children were to be considered for technical/vocational schools. He also noted that no male staff had been employed because (a) no suitable candidate had applied, and (b) past experiences had caused problems of quality of personnel.
Mr Granville made strong recommendations on what qualities a new Resident Manager should possess, stressing the importance of proper record-keeping and communication with the child’s family and with social workers: That any future change in the Resident Manager’s part should consider (a)that the Resident Manager has to adopt a major leadership role. To be representative of the Communities child care policy at all levels and to ensure that this policy is practiced by all the care staff in the group homes.
Mr Granville did not immediately appreciate the problems that were developing following Sr Callida’s appointment. Sr Callida appeared to perform her duties as Resident Manager well and took a particular interest in the children’s education.
Over the next two years, Mr Granville noted that the children seemed happy, although he was concerned at the lack of visits from social workers and the lack of contact with the children’s families.
The children were let down by poor supervision and monitoring from the Departments of Education and Health. Mr Granville, the Inspector, identified staff problems in 1981. He thought that the Resident Manager was young and inexperienced. Right up to his last report, he continued to have concerns about staff rostering and the erosion of continuity with the children due to staff changes. Mr Granville had no responsibility for the Health Board children who were coming and going in the home, with little or no contact or support from social workers.
Mr Granville made a number of references in his inspection reports to the deficiency in aftercare facilities and the lack of co-ordination of such facilities between the School and the Health Board.