Child welfare agencies to be monitored
Child welfare and protection services in the Health Service Executive (HSE) are to be regularly inspected by the country's safety watchdog to see if they are meeting new mandatory standards.
The inspections are aimed at discovering weaknesses in the care and protection of children in the 17 childcare areas.
A set of standards, which HSE services must comply with at local, regional and national level, were drawn up after consultation by the Health Information and Quality Authority which will conduct the inspections.
The 27 standards include requirements that reports of concerns about a child are properly assessed by HSE staff.
They also set out the necessity for inter-agency co-operation.
It comes in the wake of a series of inquiry reports over the years which highlighted failings after a child or family had fallen through the cracks.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said inspectors would "monitor and interrogate" the service.