Saturday 18 August 2018

Children were taken from 15 care families due to concerns

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Children were removed from 15 foster families last year as a result of protection and welfare concerns, it has been confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Tusla said that in December there were 4,384 approved foster carers caring for 5,702 children.

Last year, the child and welfare agency said there were "25 founded child protection and welfare concerns" against foster carers.

Tusla has been under pressure because of a shortage of social workers in several areas while some Hiqa inspection reports have highlighted how not all the members of foster families have been Garda-vetted at all times.

The Tusla spokeswoman said that when an allegation of abuse is made it "takes immediate action to protect any child or children who may be at immediate risk. Our actions are always focused on the safety and well-being of the children involved".

"Cases of alleged abuse in care are extremely complex and the environment can be anxious and contested.

"When Tusla intervenes in a family's life, we assess the situation by focusing on the known or past harm that has occurred to a child, the factors that may make it more complicated to address the harm and the future danger we believe the child may be exposed to if nothing in the family situation changes.

"We balance this against the strengths within that child and their family situation and the safety that can be demonstrated by all of the adults and the children over time."

She said that removing immediate risk to a child may involve removing the person allegedly causing harm or removing the child from the placement.

"In many situations, removing the person allegedly causing harm is the quickest and most effective way to resolve the immediate risk to a child; it also allows the child to maintain other positive and loving relationships within their family.

"Tusla then works with everyone connected to the child to agree a long-term, effective safety plan. An important part of this process is listening to and addressing the concerns people have about a child's safety." Safety plans where children have been sexually abused typically look at the following essential areas:

The alleged perpetrator is never alone with children;

Protective carers are identified and in place;

A monitoring plan for professionals and the child's wider network is in place.

Professionals meet with the children separately.

Irish Independent

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