Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Publication of National Review Panel Reports

Tusla - Child and Family Agency today published reports from the National Review Panel (NRP)* reviewing the deaths of children and young people known to child protection services. In addition to four individual reports, Tusla also published two composite reports – one covering the deaths of four children and young people from natural causes and the second covering the deaths of five young people.

Commenting on the reports, Cormac Quinlan, Director of Policy and Strategy (Interim), Tusla said:  “On behalf of Tusla I wish to extend my sincere sympathies to all those affected by the deaths of the young people mentioned in these reviews. Whilst the reports highlight that the deaths were not as a result of the quality of services received, Tusla continues to be committed to the constant improvement of the services we provide.

Tusla is already taking steps to address the recommendations of the reports including the finalisation of a protocol regarding communication with professionals and families on the death of a child, the development of specialist services for children displaying sexualised behaviour and the enhancement of our current child protection and welfare assessments. Keeping children safe requires the cooperation and collaboration of all services working with children and Tusla welcomes the recommendations that support the ongoing integration and cooperation of the respective services identified in the report.”

Commenting on the reports’ findings, Dr Helen Buckley, Chairperson of the National Review Panel said: “While Tusla has put many reforms in place, it still faces challenges in meeting the demands placed on it. Importantly, as these reports demonstrate, Tusla cannot provide a comprehensive child protection and welfare service without the cooperation of other services and organisations, particularly those in the disability and mental health sectors”.

Cormac Quinlan added: “To address these challenges, the following initiatives are underway:-

  • Tulsa has developed a national approach to practice called Meitheal to establish one common approach that can be used collaboratively with families and professionals to intervene early, in a coordinated way to address children’s needs and prevent the need for social work intervention.
  • Tusla is also developing a Child Protection and Welfare Strategy aimed at developing a national approach to practice for social work led services. This will support collaborative and effective engagement with families in addressing the harm children may have experienced. As part of the development of this strategy, Tusla is currently engaged with the Centre for Effective services to develop an intervention toolkit and an enhanced learning environment for social workers. This work will support evidence-informed assessment, provide consistency and enhance best practice in engaging families. A significant number of staff have completed the evidence-informed practitioner programme. The programme actively supports practitioners in implementing these changes in their current practice.
  • Threshold guidance has been introduced to ensure social work interventions are made in an appropriate, proportionate and timely manner.
  • Tusla is currently developing a revised Alternative Care Strategy to enhance services for children in care. The aim is to strengthen preventative strategies which will support young people to remain safely at home, to explore and develop a range of care placements and to further enhance the provision of support to young people in aftercare.

Tusla is committed to safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of young people in receipt of its services and is engaged in the following:

  • Daily interagency work between social workers and other professionals. The NRP reports published today and other reports highlight this excellent practice in many cases.
  • A joint working agreement is in place between Tusla and the HSE with two working groups meeting on a regular basis to look at enhanced collaboration for complex cases involving children with disabilities and children with mental health difficulties.
  • Training has been provided to staff across the agency on suicide prevention. Tusla is committed to working with other lead agencies in implementing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention “Connecting for Life” (2015-2020).



Notes to Editors

*The National Review Panel is an independent function, under the chairmanship of Dr. Helen Buckley, which reviews cases where children in care, in aftercare or known to child protection services die or experience serious incidents.

*In relation to composite reports, it was decided not to publish these reports separately and in full in order to protect the welfare of the families and community members affected by the deaths of the children and young people.

All of the reports can be downloaded from www.nationalreviewpanel.ie


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