Tusla continues to provide key services across core areas that support children and families at risk during COVID-19 including:
- Child protection;
- Children in care, and;
- Domestic, sexual and gender based violence services, in conjunction with our partners and funded agencies.
Tusla staff around the country have also been working with local partners and organisations to develop creative solutions to help children and families during the public health crisis.
Speaking about the agency’s response to COVID-19, Bernard Gloster, Chief Executive, Tusla said: “As an agency that works with children and families across the country, Tusla staff have been working tirelessly to ensure the continuity of supports and services, while also balancing the needs and best interests of children with public health advice to keep children, families and frontline staff as safe as possible during the pandemic. I want to emphasise that emergency child protection work continues throughout.
Staff have also been involved in various local initiatives around the country. From working with statutory and community partners in Limerick, to weekly support calls to foster carers in Dublin South Central, and sending out personal care packs to young people in aftercare in the Midlands, staff are going above and beyond to ensure we play any part we can in helping children and young people through this challenging tine.”
Examples of initiatives that Tusla teams are involved in around the country are detailed below.
Tusla Dublin Mid Leinster
Tusla Dublin North East
Tusla staff in the Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary area have been busy working with local partners including:
- the Health Services Executive (HSE)
- An Garda Síochána
- local authorities
- schools, and
- the Children and Young Peoples Service Committees (CYPSC)
In addition, they have also been working with numerous community partners to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society continue to receive the support that they need at this difficult time. These community partners include:
- Family resource centres
- Mid-West Simon Community
- Limerick Social Services Council
- Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC)
- ABC Start Right
- Youth services
Tusla staff in Donegal have been working with partners to create a dedicated free Parent Support Line to listen to and support parents throughout the county, at a time which can be quite challenging for many parents and families. The number for the support line is 1800 112 277 and the service operates Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
Tusla is also a member of the Donegal Community Response Forum. The initiative, which is led by Donegal County Council, involves partnership working with all the statutory and voluntary partners in the county to ensure a coordinated and focused response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The local Prevention Partnership and Family Support Service (PPFS) and Social Work service teams have also been working closely with funded partners and the network of family resource centres in the areas of youth provision, parenting and family support to ensure that services continue to be provided to children, young people and families across the county.
Tusla teams in the Galway, Roscommon and Mayo have been working with local partners to help the most vulnerable in society. These partners include:
- Health Services Executive (HSE)
- An Garda Síochána
- Roscommon LEADER Partnership
- Family resource centres
Tusla teams in the Sligo, Leitrim and West Cavan areas have been working with local partners including:
- Life Start
- An Garda Síochána
- Home Youth Liaison Service (HYLS)
- Family resource centres
- Sligo/Leitrim community forums
- Sligo Leitrim CYPSC
- Child and Family Support Networks
Dublin Mid Leinster
Tusla staff in the Dublin South Central area have been involved in a number of initiatives to support children and families. These includes:
- Family support staff linking in with families and children in the community and providing supports to children
- Children in care teams linking in weekly with children in care
- Local fostering teams doing weekly support calls to carers
- Providing support to a number of statutory organisations such as Dublin City Council in respect of a community response to COVID-19
The Children and Young People’s Service Committee (CYPSC) in the Dublin City South area has created a range of information on support services for families and children. These include:
- Video series on Playful Parenting in Pandemic and ‘How to Make’ creative activities
- Updating the Dublin CYPSC Directory
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (DLR) CYPSC has been involved in a number of initiatives including:
- Working partnership with University College Dublin (UCD) Community Engagement, Intel and Microsoft Ireland, to provide a total of 47 laptops to children and young people in homeless hubs to enable them to continue their education
- The launch of a new website to make youth mental health services visible and accessible to young people. The website was co-produced with young people who have lived experience of mental health difficulties and services.
- A new pilot programme to support young people who are not attending school due to mental health difficulties has commenced delivery online supported by DLR CYPSC, St John of God’s CAMHS, Dublin Dún Laoghaire Education Training Board, Tusla Educational Support Services (tess), National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and HSE Psychology.
The Laois Offaly CYPSC has funded Clara and Tullamore community and family resource centres to deliver 240 resource packs to children. The packs included crafts and games to support children in the area to play and be creative during the lockdown period.
CYPSC also funded Laois Partnership to provide toys to children in direct provision centres in Laois.
Tusla Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) staff sent small care and activity packages to local children by post. The packs included small gifts such as sweets, diaries, hairbands, and stress balls.
PPFS staff have kept in contact with young people they support by phone or by using video communications. They are also posting out worksheets and discussing activities with young people to help them through this time.
The Midlands Aftercare Team has sent out personal care packs to young people in aftercare and are very conscious about keeping in regular contact with these young people who may have a limited support network.
Wicklow CYPSC has been involved in a number of initiatives, including:
- Electronically launching the Wicklow School Refusal Pack which is a guide for schools, students and parents/guardians on the best way to manage school refusal and highlights the relevant resources and services that may be of assistance
- Working with the Community Response Forum to ensure that the emerging needs of children, young people and families are being raised, for example, digital and food poverty
Tusla staff in Kildare have also been working with local partners through the local community forums and through the Kildare CYPSC.
Dublin North East
Dublin City North Children and Young Persons’ Services Committee (CYPSC) has been working with statutory, community and voluntary partners to address needs and gaps for children, young people and families during COVID-19. These initiatives include:
- Partnering with the Balseskin Resource Centre and Barnardos to fund educational packs for 50 children under the age of 12 who live in the centre
- Early Learning Initiative partners ABC Docklands distributing more than 40 ‘My Place to Play’ mats in the last six weeks to support the development needs of children living or born in emergency accommodation, such as hotels
- English classes provided to families via video by Hill Street Family Resource Centre
- Supporting food distribution in partnership with local schools
- Providing online training to support foster carers
- Family resource centres operating services online, including email and telephone supports, as well as coordinating and assisting food and resource delivery
Tusla teams in the Cavan and Monaghan area have been involved in a number of activities including:
- Distributing more than 500 family activity packs to families across Cavan and Monaghan
- Providing more than 1,300 hot nutritional meals to families and young care leavers prepared at the Child Wellbeing Centre in Castleblayney
- Working with local Child and Family Support Network (CFSN) and Cavan Monaghan CYPSC to carry out a survey asking parents what they know about services that are available in their local community, what is the best way for parents to access information and what parents feel they need at this current time.
Tusla staff in the Louth and Meath area have been involved in creative and often preventative initiatives including:
- Providing ‘My Place to Play’ to parents of babies living or born in emergency accommodation, and refuges.
- Providing advice to families on baby safety in the home
- Putting together hampers and activity packs and delivering them to vulnerable families in conjunction with local partners
- Developing and sharing an online safety guide for parents with the help of the Child and Family Support Networks, CYPSC and schools