CHILD fostering services in parts of Dublin are in a "state of crisis" with some children not getting a visit from a social worker for years.
Many carers have not been properly vetted and up to half of children in care don't have a social worker assigned to them, a new report claims.
The "serious shortcomings" in the foster care provided in the capital have been uncovered by a series of investigations undertaken by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
The investigations found that between a third and a half of all children in care didn't have a social worker.
The reports raise "serious concerns" in relation to child protection practices.
HIQA says it found "significant and serious shortcomings in the duty of care to a number of children in foster care in the HSE Dublin North West and Dublin North Central local health areas". It highlights concerns including:
It concludes that "the HSE fostering services in both areas were in a state of crisis at the time of the inspection".
A separate inspection by the authority in HSE Dublin North local health area found foster care practices in that area to be mostly safe and well organised.
But Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of the Authority said they had "immediate concerns "in Dublin North West and Dublin North Central areas after finding that many children were being cared for by carers who had not been appropriately vetted.
As a result of the concerns raised, HIQA halted its standard inspection process of foster care services and expanded its inspection to include a review of all cases of children in foster care in these areas.
Dr Cooper said today that the HSE has "failed in its statutory duty of care to a significant number of children".
"This serious and unacceptable situation should never have been allowed happen and the HSE must ensure now that it is providing effective, accountable services and safeguarding children to a safe standard across the country."