Saturday 23 September 2017

Mandatory reporting of child abuse concerns should not be introduced, Tusla argue

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Ryan O'Rourke

The Child and Family Agency Tusla have argued that the mandatory reporting of child abuse concerns will place children and families at risk and should not be introduced.

On RTÉ’s This Week, documents released under the Freedom of Information act were revealed.

The documents showed that repeated warnings were given by Tusla to the Department of Children. The warnings state that mandatory reporting will put extra pressure on its child protection services. and damage the progress it has made in dealing with social work waiting lists.

As it is, mandatory reporting is due to be introduced in January of 2018.

Back in August 2016, Tusla Chief Executive Fred McBride sent a letter to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs outlining his concerns about the reporting regime, which is contained in the Children First legislation.

"I have serious concerns regarding the commencement of the mandatory reporting aspect of the Children First Act. Evidence from other jurisdictions indicates that mandatory reporting could increase referrals to the Agency by 150pc.

"On this conservative basis the immediate impact of the introduction of mandatory reporting will be to reverse all progress made in respect of unallocated cases and will result in increased waiting lists, including retrospective allegations of abuse, in direct proportion to the increased level of referrals".

The letter continues:

"I am therefore reiterating our recommendation that mandatory reporting is not introduced at all due to the impact this will have on services and our limited capacity to respond with little evidence from other jurisdictions that outcomes for children are improved.

"Indeed I have sent documentation to your department setting out the intention of the Australian authorities to dismantle mandatory reporting as they deem it to be wholly counter-productive," he said.

The Tusla Chief Executive called for the reporting obligations to be delayed until January 2018, to which The Department of Children agreed, but insisted that the latest possible date for mandatory reporting to be implemented is the1st of February 2018.

In response to these concerns, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children has called for Tusla to be properly resourced to implement the reporting regime.

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