Publication of National Review Panel Reports
Tusla – Child and Family Agency today publishes executive summary reports by the National Review Panel (NRP) reviewing the deaths of five children and young people. The NRP is also today publishing two annual reports for 2015 and 2016. All reports are available from the NRP website, www.nationalreviewpanel.ie.
Commenting on the reports, Jim Gibson, Tusla Chief Operations Officer, said “On behalf of Tusla, I wish to extend my sincere sympathies to all those affected by the deaths of the children and young people mentioned in these reviews. The death of any child is a tragedy and has a significant impact on their family, friends and wider community.
“The primary responsibility for the care of a child lies with the family. Sometimes families need help to carry out that responsibility and it is the duty of the State to respond. The key learning from these reports is that good individual supports are not enough, without a coordinated, multi-agency approach.”
Commenting on the reports’ findings, Dr Helen Buckley, Chairperson of the National Review Panel said “Some of these reviews reveal the level of pressure being experienced by social work departments due to increased reporting and shortages of staff. In addition, reports show evidence of an emerging and problematic gulf between health services and social work departments following the separation of child protection services from the HSE”.
Jim Gibson added, “A consistent theme emerging from case reviews, inquiries and policy developments within Child and Family Services in recent years is that services for children and young people could be improved if statutory agencies worked more effectively together. This year, Tusla and the HSE published a joint working protocol to support good collaboration and working relationships between the agencies to promote the best interests of children, families and vulnerable adults with whom we work.
This protocol has been developed to assist staff in managing interactions between our agencies, to clarify our separate and distinct roles and responsibilities and to develop and enhance a collaborative partnership between the HSE and Tusla. This will lead to a consistent approach where services are delivered appropriately, meeting the clinically assessed, holistic needs of children and their families within available resources and in accordance with Government policies and legislative requirements.”
The reports published today identify a number of learning points for the Agency. Tusla is committed to constantly improving the services we provide and we have begun taking steps to address the findings of the reports including the following initiatives, which are underway:
- As part of its reform of Ireland’s child protection services, Tusla has developed a new Child Protection and Welfare Strategy which will be launched later this month. A central purpose of the Strategy is Tusla’s commitment to meet our statutory obligations and embed the revised best practice principles of Children First in our practice.
- Tusla has recently selected the Signs of Safety as its national approach to practice. The Signs of Safety is an innovative, strength-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework grounded in partnership and collaboration with children, families and their wider networks of support. Training in the Signs of Safety is currently being delivered across the country ahead of its full implementation.
- 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.
- Tulsa has developed a national model of early intervention called Meitheal which is used collaboratively with children, families and professionals to address children’s needs in a coordinated way and prevent the need for social work intervention.
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.
- Children in care who are experiencing mental health difficulties receive support and treatment through the HSE’s psychology services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and through services purchased by Tusla. In addition, Tusla’s Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service (ACTS) is a national specialised clinical service which has been developed to provide on-site therapeutic services to young people in secure settings in Ireland who have complex clinical needs.
- 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).