Friday 28 July 2017

High number of children in foster care not allocated a social worker- Hiqa

Hiqa. Photo: PA
Hiqa. Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

An inspection of children in foster families has found 42 were not allocated a social worker.

The service covers Dublin south west, Kildare west and Wicklow where 332 children are in foster care, 149 of whom are in the care of relatives.

The inspection, carried out in October by Hiqa, the patient safety watchdog, found three had not been visited by a social worker since 2014.

Two of these children were living with a relative and the other was in general foster care.

The report said overall the service is child-centred and children’s rights are respected, with good practice in relation to diversity.

However, overall only ten of the 26 standards measured were met and fourteen required improvement..

Commenting on the report the ISPCC said it was concerned at a number of findings in including the delay in assessing relatives who were chosen to foster some children.

Other issues included:

Insufficient supports were provided to all foster carers and significantly, reviews of foster carers did not occur routinely.

Immediate action was taken when necessary to protect children but a number of improvements were required regarding measures in place to safeguard and protect children from abuse.

Some child protection concerns were not assessed in a timely manner in line with Children First (2011): National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, and allegations of abuse were not always managed in a timely manner

The classification of concerns about foster carers into either an allegation or a complaint did not comprehensively capture child welfare concerns and it was not documented that these welfare concerns were consistently notified to the foster care committee

ISPCC Chief Executive Grainia Long said: "This inspection took place in October 2016 and follows a pattern of similar inspections held in 2016, that these minimum required standards are not being met in a way that children accessing these services have a right to expect.

“In particular, the issue of staffing is of an ongoing concern and consistently referred to throughout inspection reports.  We welcome the fact that there are references to posts having being approved for future recruitment and it is extremely important that improvements that are promised are evident in reports of this nature throughout 2017.

“We need to ensure that these children are protected to the best of the State’s ability and as the report demonstrates, improvements are required in service provision, and there is a need to ensure social work services are fully resourced so that every child has an allocated social worker and timely access to the supports that they need.”

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