Tusla acknowledges the publication of the report of the Disclosures Tribunal
Tusla – Child and Family Agency acknowledges the publication today of the report of the Disclosures Tribunal into our involvement with Sergeant Maurice McCabe and his family.
As stated in our initial statement, we wish to reiterate our sincere apology to Sergeant McCabe and each member of his family for the impact Tusla’s errors had on them. Tusla is sincerely sorry that its standards did not meet those which could be reasonably expected by Sergeant McCabe and his family. Additionally, Tusla also wishes to apologise to others who were affected by the errors that were made.
Tusla accepts that the practice and governance in this case was exceptionally poor and that this fell below the standards that we as an organisation expect. Tusla has commenced a HR process around the management of this case, and it is expected that this process will be completed in due course*. Tusla has an expectation that staff involved in any inquiry or Tribunal would participate and fully cooperate.
To ensure accountability in respect of these failings Tusla conducted an internal investigation to look at the systems in place, and this led to a detailed plan to improve services and all the recommendations have been implemented to bring child protection and welfare services in line with national standards. This plan specifically addresses the following areas:
- Reorganised and improved management and governance arrangements;
- Introduction of a dedicated specialist team to manage retrospective abuse and support compliance with national policies and procedures;
- Increased supervision of staff involved in this situation;
- Increased quality assurance of changes through the auditing of cases, files and practice;
- Increased training for staff and management.
As a result of this case, HIQA conducted an investigation into the management of allegations of child sexual abuse against adults of concern across the service. The investigation looked at the whole system and outlined areas of good practice and areas for improvements, with associated recommendations. A robust action plan has been developed as a result and the delivery of the action plan is being overseen by an independent oversight group. HIQA identified that any child at immediate risk received an immediate protective response. The HIQA report acknowledged that there have been significant improvements since the establishment of Tusla including the development of the Child Protection and Welfare Strategy and a new national approach to practice – Signs of Safety.
Last year, the area was also moved onto a national computerised social work system (NCCIS). This ensures that social work teams in the area have a robust, secure information and file management system to support the delivery of effective child protection and welfare services. The system also ensures that standardised information is collated, managed and shared at local, regional and national levels to support effective decision making, in compliance with legislation.
Social work staff work in complex and challenging environments, as they focus on helping children and the families and protecting children from harm. When staff do make serious errors staff and the Agency need to take responsibility for these errors and work to ensure changes are made so that practice is improved. Retrospective cases of abuse are particularly challenging and Tusla has consistently and publically stated that to support the agency in meeting its obligations the area needs legislative reform.
Similarly, when good practice is identified we learn from these examples and seek to build upon them. In this case, we acknowledge the mistakes we made and are working proactively to ensure they cannot be repeated.
Tusla is on an ambitious journey of change to improve our services and the relationship between the State and children, young people, families and communities. This programme of work will be governed from the highest level of the organisation and tracked on a consistent and robust basis to ensure that change is implemented throughout the organisation.
Organisational change takes time to embed however we are confident with the support of the public and our key partners, the work we are undertaking is leading to improved services and better outcomes for children and families.