Seventeen children in care in Cork have absconded more than five times each in the past year.
Figures provided under the Freedom of Information Act by the HSE revealed that 72 children in State care absconded in the past year.
Of those, 17 have left their foster or residential home on more than five occasions. In some cases, the children — mostly teenagers — have left their care placement to return to their families.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said that in some cases, children who have been recorded as having absconded are only absent for as short a period as 20 minutes.
Director of EPIC (Empowering People in Care), Jennifer Gargan said the issue of repeat absconding by some children from their care or residential home shows that there needs to be better policies in place for them.
She said: “Young people in care are more vulnerable and more likely to have issues.