Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tusla media statement re publication of HIQA foster care service inspection reports

Tusla – Child and Family Agency acknowledges the publication today of three HIQA inspection reports in relation to foster care services. Commenting on the publication of the reports, Jim Gibson, Tusla Chief Operations Officer, said “HIQA inspections are an important measurement and oversight tool for us in Tusla and allow us to ensure that our services operate at the highest possible standard. These reports show evidence of positive practice and improvements in services. The reports also identify areas for improvement which we are targeting through comprehensive action plans which were agreed with HIQA.”

“This work takes time and we are committed to implementing the required actions as promptly as possible to improve the service for children, families and our foster carer community.”

The inspection reports demonstrate examples of positive practice, including:

Dublin South Central:

  • All staff within the service had Garda vetting in place;
  • The Area Manager was developing and implementing new systems in the service including tracker systems to facilitate oversight of the status of all allegations and the status of relative foster carer assessments and a rotational system to support and monitor unallocated foster carers;
  • A group consultation had been held with foster carers to hear what kind of training they need and would like to receive.

Dublin North City:

  • All children in foster care had an allocated social worker; 
  • Garda vetting was in place for all foster carers;
  • Children were safeguarded where immediate action was required and there was good managerial oversight of reports of serious concerns and allegations.

Cavan / Monaghan:

  • Local support groups were available to foster carers in the area, with meetings held every 4 – 6 weeks;
  • The majority of assessments that were sampled were of good quality;
  • Unallocated foster carers were supported and visited by the social care worker with oversight by the social work team leader.

Tusla is putting the following measures in place to improve the services and standards in the area in a timely and measurable way:

Dublin South Central:

  • Of the original 41 relative foster care assessments which were identified during the 2016 inspection as outstanding, 14 remain. Eight of the remaining assessments will be completed this month and the remaining six will be completed by June 2018.
  • The area has commissioned a private fostering agency to ensure that all new relative assessments are commissioned within the timeframe outlined in the national standards for foster care.
  • The area is developing support groups for foster carers.
  • All outstanding foster carer reviews will be completed by the end of June 2018, provided planned recruitment for vacancies on the fostering teams is successful.
  • The Area Manager has reviewed all allegations and serious welfare concerns relating to foster care placements received by the area since 2015. Detailed reports on all reviews are being provided to the Foster Care Committee. A quarterly governance meeting has also been established to ensure all outstanding allegations or serious welfare concerns are reviewed by the area’s management team.
  • The area has convened a fostering forum for new communities to improve recruitment of foster carers from new communities in the area. Four meetings of this forum have been held to date.

Dublin North City:

  • An Area Governance Group has been convened and will meet on a monthly basis chaired by the area manager to oversee governance of the fostering service and to track the progress of the implementation of the action plan submitted to HIQA.
  • Systems have been put in place to track over-16s’ Garda vetting. 
  • A schedule for completion of outstanding foster care reviews has been drawn up, which will be monitored by the Area Governance Group. 
  • All outstanding foster carer visits have now taken place and all 30 unallocated foster carers referenced in the report now have an allocated social worker.
  • Implementation of the Fostering Recruitment and Retention Strategy (2018-2021) has begun with active participation in Fostering Fortnight during February 2018. 

Cavan / Monaghan:

  • All allegations of abuse under Children First 2017 will be reported by the child-in-care social worker to the fostering social worker and to the Tusla duty intake service to ensure independent oversight and decision making about a proportionate, timely and effective response;
  • All foster carers are currently completing ‘an introduction to Children First’;
  • A fostering governance and accountability forum has been established;
  • A schedule of foster care reviews has been developed with additional steps in place until these reviews are complete;
  • Where a report or serious concern is made against a foster carer, a review will be prioritised. 

Tusla is almost one year into the implementation of its five-year Child Protection and Welfare Strategy, which sets out to improve our child protection and welfare services by selecting and rolling out a national practice approach (the Signs of Safety); defining clear thresholds and response pathways; creating a positive learning environment for staff; growing proactive relationships with our partners including children, families and their extended networks; empowering our staff and developing defined measurable outcomes to allow us to assess how successfully we are achieving our child protection and welfare strategic objectives.

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