Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tusla statement re: HIQA foster care service inspection report for Louth / Meath Area

Tusla-Child and Family Agency notes the publication today of the HIQA inspection report in relation to foster care services in the Louth/Meath area, carried out earlier this year.

Of six standards assessed by HIQA, three were deemed compliant, and three substantially compliant.

HIQA highlighted many positive aspects of the foster care system in the Louth/Meath area, including:

  • The majority of the children in the area had an allocated social worker (99%)
  • Children who spoke to inspectors spoke positively about their social workers and the service they provided. 
  • Social workers demonstrated their commitment to hearing the voice of children in their discussions with inspectors.
  • The service area had a good matching process in place to ensure children were placed with foster carers who had the capacity to meet their needs
  • Assessments of need were carried out on all children placed in foster care and were of good quality.
  • Children who had complex needs and or a disability received specialist supports as required.
  • There was good quality care planning, coordination of services and review of these children’s needs.
  • The aftercare service was well managed and efficiently run. Children and young people in foster care were helped to develop the skills, knowledge and competence necessary for adult living. They were also given the support and guidance to help them attain independence on leaving care.

On the impact of Covid-19, inspectors found that:

  • Staff worked creatively during Covid-19 in order to maintain contact and continue supporting children by making regular telephone and video calls and sending texts.
  • When home visits were required, risk assessments were conducted to ensure they complied with public health advice
  • During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the service developed a number of imaginative communications initiatives to stay connected with children such as, the creation of activity packs which included ‘Bake Off’ and Time Capsule challenges and recipes as well as child friendly information about Covid-19. Social workers helped children maintain contact with their families where this was in the best interests of the child.

While overall the service was good, HIQA also identified areas for improvement, including improved management oversight of the schedule of statutory child in care reviews to ensure that all children are visited in line with the regulations and improved case record management. These will be addressed by a service improvement plan.

Commenting on the report, Grainne Sullivan, Area Manager, Tusla Louth/Meath, said:

“The HIQA inspection report into our fostering services highlights the commitment of the Tusla staff, foster carers, children and young people in the Louth/Meath area, our partner agencies, families and communities to delivering an effective service.

As well as the many areas of good practice, we also address areas where improvement is required and make the necessary improvements - as well as ensuring that good practise is maintained to ensure that children and foster families in Louth/Meath receive the best possible service.”

Tusla receives consistent and high quality regulation and oversight, by various external bodies including HIQA. The findings in this report are welcome, and acknowledge many of the positives in this area. Other reports highlight areas where improvements are required, and we are aware that we have further work to do in a number of our care settings. Continuing to improve the quality of that care set against high standards and regulation is an ongoing process.

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