Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tusla statement re HIQA child protection and welfare service inspection reports for Cavan/Monaghan and Kerry

Tusla – Child and Family Agency notes the publication today of two HIQA inspection reports in relation to child protection and welfare services in the Cavan/Monaghan and Kerry areas.

This inspection report highlighted many positive aspects of the child protection and welfare service in Cavan/Monaghan including:

  • The service was managed by a highly motivated management team who, with the input of the overall team, had achieved a lot in the 10 months prior to inspection.
  • The service had made significant progress in relation to the eradication of the waiting list for initial assessments and in May 2020 the area had no waiting list for children.
  • The service was fully staffed at the time of inspection and staff had the right mix of skills and experience to meet the needs of children.
  • There was significant improvement since January 2019 in the volume of unallocated cases, which had meant that children had improved access to the service compared to earlier in the year.
  • The area had been innovative in supporting families from different backgrounds.
  • Children who spoke to inspectors were positive about their relationship with their social worker/social care worker and described feeling listened to.

The inspection also highlighted improvements that were required in the safe recruitment practices as inspectors found gaps in some staff files. These issues were rectified within days of the inspection, with all files confirmed to now contain the relevant documentation to confirm registration and vetting.

Commenting on the report, Lisa Anderson, Area Manager, Tusla Cavan/Monaghan said:
“We are wholly committed to making our child protection and welfare service even stronger, and are pleased that this inspection highlighted that there was a sense that the service area is making continuous progress. Since inspection we have tracked all the measures identified within our service improvement plan, and will continue to make further improvements in the weeks and months ahead.”

In the Kerry area, the report identified areas of good practice, and also areas where improvements were required, including governance and quality assurance. A number of positive key changes have been introduced in the area such as the appointment of a number of senior members of management including an additional Principal Social Worker and a Quality Assurance Officer who has responsibility for risk management and escalation, auditing and service improvement initiatives. Under the leadership of the Area Manager these new posts provide greater management oversight and governance of the service.

Inspectors also noted a number of deficits in staff personnel files relating to outstanding vetting and confirmation of CORU registration. These matters were pursued immediately and addressed, with an audit confirming that all social work staff currently active on duty in the area have current registration.

Following Tusla’s own processes of audit and investigations, referrals to An Garda Síochána were also identified as a problem in the area. Immediate action was taken to address these issues, which were identified internally by Tusla and notified to the relevant authorities. Tusla has been working with An Garda Síochána to deal with the issues identified.

Speaking about the report, Breda Lynch, Area Manager, Tusla, said:
“This inspection report highlights a number of areas for improvement, and indeed our own audits in recent months have also identified areas where we have shortcomings or where improvements are needed. We are actively working through these issues, and have taken a number of important steps to drive rapid improvement. Teams have been re-configured in the area with new staffing across all grades and improved governance and oversight.

We are fully committed to the safety of children in Kerry and all children across the country and will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that children are receiving the best possible service.”

Tusla receives consistent and high quality regulation and oversight, by various external bodies including HIQA. This oversight assists us in ensuring that our practices deliver good quality, timely and appropriate interventions and services for children, and spans a number of Tusla services including alternative care and child protection and welfare services. Many of these reports highlight the many positive examples of good practice, such as inspection reports in recent weeks on children’s residential centres. Others 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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