Nearly 10,000 children still waiting to be allocated dedicated social worker
MORE than 9,500 children whose cases have been notified to social services are waiting to be allocated a social worker, new figures show.
Minister for Children James Reilly confirmed the waiting list as of June reached 9,548. A report highlighted that one third were "high priority."
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is providing 19,766 children with a social work service, said Dr Reilly.
"The report also highlights the increasing service challenge facing the agency, with 9,548 cases waiting to be allocated to a dedicated social worker.
"These cases represent a mix of new referrals that need further assessment and social work input and children known to the agency who need a continuing social work service," said the minister.
He also pointed out that a "duty social worker" has been involved in the cases in a parliamentary reply to Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy.
Dr Reilly said the Child and Family Agency has assured him that emergency cases are dealt with immediately and high priority cases are kept under review.
"We must ensure the most vulnerable children in our society receive a timely and appropriate response," he said, adding the analysis in the 'Measuring the Pressure' report provided information to assist the agency in service planning and allocating resources.
"This year, the Child and Family Agency is in receipt of funding of €6.7m to alleviate identified service pressures and support the continuing implementation of the reform programme across children and family services. This funding is being targeted at a number of areas, including the replacement of staff on maternity leave by way of a 12 month temporary contract. The most recent figures indicate that at the end of August, 164 staff were on maternity leave, 82 of whom were social workers," he said.
Dr Reilly said the agency is also finalising proposals for the introduction of a guaranteed and protected one year induction programme for newly qualified social workers. It comes as the Health Information and Quality Authority launched draft national standards for special care units for children who need high support.
The guidelines, which highlight the right to privacy, dignity and respect are open now open for public consultation before being finalised and used for inspection.