'Chaotic' foster care services come under fire from watchdog
The allocation of social workers to children in foster care in Carlow, Kilkenny and south Tipperary social services was "chaotic", an inspectors' report has revealed.
It was not done in a "child-centred way", the Health Information and Quality (Hiqa) report said.
Children experienced frequent changes to their allocated social workers and long periods without an allocated social worker.
They were visited by multiple Tusla professionals, significant events were not always responded to, actions agreed at care planning reviews were not followed up so support services were not always provided.
The inspection found that there remained a high number of social work vacancies and retention of staff remained very poor.
Measures were put in place to address the risks associated with high levels of unallocated children in care; however, these did not effectively improve the service for children in care in the area.
Some children's placements ended in an unplanned manner due to failure by the area to provide appropriate services in a timely manner.
The data provided to inspectors at the time of inspection indicated 72 out of 312 children did not have an allocated social worker.
Commenting on the report, Dermot Halpin, service director for Tusla South, said: "Key areas requiring improvements were identified in this inspection report, and a number of improvement measures have been taken since the inspection took place to remedy the issues identified.
"These improvements are being carried out on an ongoing basis. Further progress will be made in the months ahead, and timeframes to achieve this will be monitored rigorously. Our very detailed and robust action plan has been accepted by Hiqa, and we are working proactively towards reaching all of our targets in this regard."
Area manager Marie Kennedy said improvements in staffing levels had been achieved since the inspection, leading to increased allocation of social workers.