independent

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Inspection report leads to concerns for child welfare

Deborah Coleman

A recent HIQA inspection on a statutory foster care service in Wicklow, Kildare West and Dublin South West found that of 26 service standards, only ten standards were met, 14 required improvement and two were of significant concern, with child protection issues raised.

The ISPCC has expressed concern over the report which highlighted a number of areas of concern within the service which was inspected last October.

According to the document, not all children had an allocated social worker and the systems in place to ensure unallocated children received statutory visits was not sufficient.

It also outlined that not all young people were receiving an aftercare service in line with Tusla policy and relative assessments were not completed in a timely manner and that 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 and 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, the report stated, and it was not documented that these welfare concerns were consistently notified to the foster care committee.

'This HIQA 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, thehe 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,' said ISPCC chief executive Grainia Long.

'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,' Ms Long added.

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