Friday 22 September 2017

Health watchdog raises serious concerns over foster services

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

THE health watchdog has raised serious concerns about foster care services in Ireland.

A new report highlights a raft of issues, with most worryingly, the revelation that there has been a lack of urgency in investigating allegations of misconduct against foster carers.

The findings were made by the Health Information and Quality Authority after it reviewed inspection reports for 33 children’s residential centres.

It found:

- some children did not have social workers;

- others were living with unapproved foster carers;

- foster carers were not always adequately supported or monitored;

- a lack of urgency was given to some investigations into alleged misconduct by foster carers;

- some parts of the country had insufficient numbers of foster carers;

- staff shortages in the HSE had also impacted on its capacity to deliver safe, high quality, fostering services;

- some foster carers were offered very little training in dealing with vulnerable children with extremely challenging behaviour.

While finding that in the majority of cases, services for children were safe and staff were dedicated and committed to their work, improvements needed to be made, HIQA said.

The report said the system was under significant pressure and in some instances these pressures were placing children at risk.

Not all staff had up to date garda vetting and staff had difficulty responding to some children’s behaviour.

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