ONE child in state care was moved to seven different foster families in the space of a year, according to a new inspection report.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspectors looked at foster care services managed by the HSE in Dublin North and found that a shortage of carers was causing a serious problem. Twenty-six children who had been placed in care were on a waiting list for a foster family.
It also found that 11 sets of siblings had to be split up because they could not always be placed in the one family.
The shortage meant it was more difficult for social workers to place a child to a family which was deemed suitable to match their needs, including those from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The inspectors pointed out that in the case of the child who had experienced seven different homes, the social worker went to great lengths to find a suitable placement.
Although the social service in the area had taken part in a national foster carer recruitment campaign, this had resulted in a very small number of inquiries.
"Children with disabilities were valued and respected, though not all of their needs were being consistently met," found the report.
Although the report was largely positive and inspectors said foster carers were committed and loving to the children in their care, they were not always trained and supported.
Jennifer Gargan, director of the organisation Empowering People in Care (EPIC), said: "It is vital to learn lessons from this in order to prevent placement breakdowns and prioritise stability in care placements, thus enabling children to have consistent and stable care facilitating positive outcomes."