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Foster parents still not fully vetted, says watchdog

Many children in care are continuing to be put at risk because of failure to get garda clearance for all foster parents, a safety watchdog report warned yesterday.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said foster parents were still not being adequately assessed, vetted and approved by the HSE.

It also said it was concerned at the "significant failure" of the HSE to provide evidence that it was adequately monitoring all children placed in foster care.

The criticisms are contained in a progress report by HIQA, following an inspection carried out last February. The aim was to examine how the HSE was working on serious failings in foster care protection highlighted by HIQA in July last year.

The earlier report which looked at services for 5,000 children who are fostered with family and strangers highlighted how in parts of Dublin some children were in "unsafe" placements for years although concerns were highlighted.

The report found that the HSE had only fully implemented one of the 12 key recommendations that HIQA had made in July.

"The inspection process highlighted continuing deficiencies in the HSE foster care service that may compromise the safety of some children and effectiveness of service delivery," it warned.

HIQA said the HSE could not say how many carers it had yet to approve or how many of them were looking after fostered children.

It could also not inform HIQA how many of the foster parents had been assigned their own link social worker to liaise with the HSE and guide them on problems they may face.

The watchdog said that "considerable improvement" was needed in the implementation of many of the recommendations of this report.

HIQA welcomed the HSE's appointment of a National Director of Children and Family Services and also the recruitment of 200 additional social workers.

Irish Independent