Tuesday 20 August 2019

Health watchdog outlines fresh concerns about foster care

 Eilish O’Regan

A DAMNING report has revealed how the safety of 368 children in foster care was not properly protected.

Inspectors who examined the Health Service Executive ‘s (HSE) care of children in foster families in the north west suburbs of Dublin last October uncovered a catalogue of poor practice.

The HIQA report looked at the 368 children, some of whose own mothers or fathers were dead, who were in foster care in 222 households in the region.

It revealed:

*Some 38 allegations and concerns about foster carers were made in the previous 12 months and a significant number were confirmed. But many of the children remained in the homes even though not all had a “safety plan” in place.

*Children in some cases were placed with families even though they were not approved by an overseeing foster committee. Allegations were made against their foster carers and this was supported by documentary evidence.

* Inspectors said files were unclear about how the level of risk to children was assessed and documentation was “poorly organised or missing”.

* There were significant delays in investigating allegations and setting up child protection conferences.

* Files failed to show that all foster carers were vetted by gardai.

* Although social workers were committed, as many as one in three of the children had only been assigned a social worker three weeks before the inspection.

* Some children from the one family were split up even though it was recommended they stay together.

* Around 41pc of children had to be sent to homes outside Dublin north west, which includes suburbs such as Finglas and Blanchardstown, because there were not enough families to care for them.

Although many children were happy in their homes, the inspectors said the practices to ensure their protection were inadequate.

The report details an action plan which social services in the region must urgently comply with to put the safety of children first.

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