Wednesday 17 January 2018

Foster care in Dublin south central 'crisis-led with significant risks to children'

File photo
File photo

Eilish O’Regan

AN inspection of foster care services in Dublin south central has found it is crisis-led with significant risks to children across a range of areas.

While all children had an allocated social worker, safeguarding measures such as the vetting of carers and other adults who lived with or had unsupervised access to children were not consistently undertaken, according to a report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

There was  no system in place to ensure all staff were vetted in line  with official recruitment policy.

Social workers also told inspectors that there was confusion and uncertainty amongst the team on how to manage welfare concerns and allegations.

Among the serious risks that were identified at this service were long delays in the commencement and completion of relative foster carer assessments and in achieving a decision from the foster care committee.

In addition, inspectors found that regular reviews of foster carers to assess their continuing capacity to provide high quality care to the children placed with them were not occurring.

It was also found that the management of the service was crisis-led rather than delivered in a planned manner.

In relation to the Care Visions fostering service, children were cared for in safe and appropriate homes and had their physical and emotional needs met.

However, management and monitoring systems required significant improvement to ensure safe services were provided.

Furthermore, the service told Hiqa there had been no child protection concerns in the previous two years; however, on review of files, inspectors found four concerns of a child protection nature detailed in significant event notifications.

Responding to the report, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency it noted the findings.

Jim Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Tusla said :“Every child in foster care in Dublin South Central has an allocated social worker to ensure they are safe and well cared for in their placement. However, Tusla remains committed to improving the care and safeguarding of children in foster care in Dublin South Central and all children in our care. In conjunction with Hiqa, we have created and begun to implement an action plan in Dublin South Central to address those areas identified as requiring improvement and have put in place a governance and oversight group to track progress on the action plan.”

Care Visions Fostering Ireland, known as Care Visions, said it fully accepts the findings of the Hiqa report and added that an action plan to comprehensively address each of the requirements identified was in place.

“As Hiqa noted in its report, children are cared for in safe and appropriate homes by Care Visions foster carers and they have their physical and emotional needs met. Hiqa also noted that Care Visions staff are dedicated and committed to the service and demonstrate a good knowledge of children’s needs.

“Care Visions, as an established and trusted fostering service, recognises its responsibility to uphold child safeguarding practices to the highest standards possible and regrets that it did not fully adhere to the national standards in a number of categories,” said Cathy Jamieson, managing director of Care Visions Group.

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