Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tusla Statement on the Publication of an NRP Report Relating to a Case in Galway

Tusla recognises that the formal publication of the National Review Panel (NRP) report in relation to a case in Galway (2003 – 2011) has been agreed following consultation with the young people involved and is cognisant of the very sensitive nature of the report. Despite aspects of this report being leaked and put into the public domain last week, Tusla deemed it would be inappropriate to make a full statement until the full summary report was published today.

Since its establishment in 2014, Tusla has supported the work of the NRP in providing independent assessments of past and current cases of serious incidents or deaths to provide learning and assist services to improve.

We know that this experience of abuse had a devastating impact on the victims and their families, and it is clear that some of the decisions made at the time, prior to the establishment of Tusla, were not robust enough to keep the children safe.

It is deeply regrettable that this happened to children in a place where they should have been safe from harm. Tusla social workers and aftercare workers continue to support the young people involved, where it is in line with their wishes to assist them in their disclosures and support them in their recovery, their transition to adulthood, and independent living.

The management of abuse allegations against foster carers has improved since the establishment of Tusla. We acknowledge the need to continuously improve and current policies, practice, oversight and governance in the area of foster care are very different to the time these heinous incidents occurred. The findings, recommendations and key learnings will assist us in this process.

In line with current practice, when an allegation of abuse in foster care is made, Tusla takes immediate action to protect any child or children who may be at immediate risk, something which is regularly highlighted in HIQA inspection reports.

Developments in foster care since the establishment of Tusla include:

  • All 268 Children in Care in the Galway / Roscommon area have an allocated social worker and all 212 foster care parents have a fostering link worker assigned to them.
  • Tusla’s national approach to practice ‘Signs of Safety’ strengthens safety planning.
  • Tusla is leading on an inter-agency pilot service for children and young persons who have experienced child sexual abuse - the 'One House/Barnahus' model.
  • Stronger governance through the review of the foster care committee policy and guidance, and clear guidance for the management of allegations outlined in the interim protocol for managing concerns and allegations of abuse or neglect against foster carers.
  • Additional resources allocated to support children in foster care.
  • The strengthening of the Garda vetting process through new Legislation with increased resources to support this.
  • Regular audits of foster care services across the country internally by Tusla’s Quality Assurance Directorate, and externally by HIQA.
  • Comprehensive aftercare supports and planning for children who leave foster care.

Jim Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Tusla said: “Across Ireland thousands of people open their homes and lives to children in need and at risk and provide loving and caring foster homes for children to grow up in. Foster carers are the backbone of our child protection system and research consistently tells us that children do best within a stable and loving family environment.

We are extremely grateful to foster carers for their commitment to improving the lives of children and we continuously improve our services to help and support them. The majority of children in foster care are living in homely, supportive environments. The support of foster carers contributes to the success of young people in foster care, including:

  • More than 9 out of 10 (93%) of 16 & 17 year olds in care are in education
  • Almost all – 98% of children 6 -15 years in care are in education
  • More than 6 out of 10 (64%) of 18 – 22 year olds in receipt of aftercare in education / accredited training.”
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