Lack of social workers holds up enforcing of Ryan report
A shortage of social workers is delaying the rollout of some of the key recommendations of the Ryan report which uncovered the horrors of institutional abuse, it emerged yesterday.
A progress report on the implementation of the Ryan report's 99 recommendations showed that it would be December next year before it could ensure that relatives who foster children would be assessed in line with regulations.
And it will be the end of this year before all children in care can be assigned a social worker.
The Ryan report was published in May 2009 and an implementation plan was set out by Children's Minister Barry Andrews two months later.
Among the outstanding recommendations was the call to put Children First guidelines on child protection on a statutory footing .
The report does not state how far advanced the Health Service Executive (HSE) is in recruiting extra social workers. It will be July of next year before the HSE carries out funding and management reforms to provide equitable and effective services to children in care and at risk. It has set this month for the erection of a memorial with a dedicated budget of €500,000 to honour the survivors of abuse.
It said the Department of Justice has so far granted 12 certificates to residents of industrial schools who have requested their criminal record, arising out of detention in the institution, be erased.
It will be December of this year before the HSE acts to reform its management structures following a review it commissioned in July last year .
Commenting on the report, the Children's Rights Alliance said it failed to provide any real transparency or accountability on the progress achieved.
"In key areas, there is little evidence that demonstrates progress, which you would rightly expect one year on," a spokesperson said
The alliance said there was:
- No financial information on how the €15m from Budget 2010 had been spent to progress the implementation plan.
- No update on the crucial commitment to recruit 200 additional social workers in 2010. The HSE set an interim target of 50 new social workers by the end of June 2010, but it is unclear whether this happened.
- No sight of the long-awaited legislation to place Children First guidelines on a statutory footing, which is to be completed by December 2010.
- No update on proposed legislation to secure strong child protection procedures relating to vetting and soft information.
- No review of the State's response to homeless children -- this should have been completed by December 2009.
- No mechanism to track whether there has been any improvement of services for children in care and those in need of aftercare.
A number of positive moves were welcomed by the alliance, including commencement of a consultation project with children in a range of care settings, progress towards ensuring equity of care for separated children and the secondment of a specialist to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) in the area of child welfare and protection.
However, chief executive Jillian van Turnhout added, "It appears that the Government has already started to move the goalposts in relation to some of its 99 commitments; and doing so at this early stage does not bode well."