Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tusla statement on HIQA inspection of the Dublin South Central Child Protection and Welfare Services

Tusla – Child and Family Agency notes the findings of the HIQA inspection report published today in relation to child protection and welfare services in the Dublin South Central area.

Jim Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Tusla said: “We accept the findings of this report, and acknowledge that Tusla has made important headway in implementing a range of measures to reform child protection and welfare services within a very challenging area.

This inspection report provides us with important additional measurement and oversight, to supplement the work already done internally, in identifying deficiencies in the service area. It also assists us with ensuring that our child protection and welfare services operate at the highest possible standard.”

He added: “A new area manager and regional service director were appointed in 2017 to drive major organisational and structural changes to the service area, which is already improving service delivery in the area.

The area manager has also implemented a service delivery improvement plan to address the issues identified, with a specific focus on governance, accountability and management. Immediate changes were made to the makeup of the duty and child protection teams in the area, with the creation of a dedicated duty intake team based in Ballyfermot. The area has conducted a full review of every open case in the area and has provided assurances to senior management that where a risk to a child presents, they receive an immediate protective response. ”

Commenting on the report Linda Creamer, Service Director, Tusla said “There are a number of initiatives already completed, or underway, in the area such as:

  • Development of an additional duty intake team in Ballyfermot
  • Recruitment of three new dedicated principal social workers and two new senior practitioner social workers
  • The creation of four new social worker posts, which are currently being recruited
  • Implementation of a new quality auditing system and
  • A new project management team to ensure the timely implementation of the service improvement plans.

We fully acknowledge there are areas for improvement and we are actively working to address these. Tusla remains committed to improving the care and safeguarding of children in Dublin South Central and all other children in our care.”

In conjunction with HIQA we have created, and have been implementing, an action plan in Dublin South Central to address the deficits identified and have put in place a governance and oversight group to track progress on the action plan.”

The following are some of the steps Tusla is taking to improve the service and standards in Dublin South Central in a timely and measurable way to ensure that children receive the level of care Tusla aims to provide to all children and families:

Standard 2.2: Screening and preliminary enquiries of child protection and welfare referrals:

  • A new dedicated principal social work post for intake and an additional dedicated intake team with two additional senior practitioner posts have been created.
  • The restructuring of the duty intake service with two separate intake teams across the area will allow greater attention to screening of preliminary enquiries, checking past referrals and past harm and ensure compliance with the standard business process.
  • All of the intake teams have been trained in and are using Signs of Safety at the front door, a practice that puts the child and family at the centre of any intervention.
  • There is no longer a backlog of referrals awaiting screening in the area. 

Standard 2.3: Effective Safety Planning:

  • The R.E.D (Review, Evaluate, Direct) process was established, along with the creation of three additional Child and Family Network Coordinator posts to assist with diversions of referrals from intake to more appropriate family supports in the community.
  • The newly created intake principal social worker will review the operation and frequency of these meetings to ensure that funded agencies are available to take more frequent child welfare referrals.

Standard 2.4: Initial assessments:

  • Every case file has been reviewed to provide assurances to management that where there is an immediate risk to a child, there is an immediate protective response.
  • A revised protocol for managing cases on a waiting list for preliminary enquiries, initial assessments and further assessment will be implemented in the area following completion.

Standard 2.5: Risk analysis when completing further assessments:

  • The dedicated quality assurance team leader will provide audits/reviews of completed assessments and closed cases as well as provide regular reports to the principal social workers for both intake and child protection.
  • The newly appointed principal social worker for child protection will continue to chair the Garda child abuse review meetings to have continued robust oversight of all notifications to/from the Gardaí.

Standard 2.10: Effective Governance:

  • The national project management office will start tracking all actions and monitoring progress from the service improvement plans and the HIQA action plans in the area using one project management process called ‘project vision’.
  • The quality assurance lead for the area will ensure that all national policies, processes and frameworks are presented at team meetings and training provided to all social work teams on same.
  • A dedicated team leader post for NCCIS has been filled. The posts will ensure auditing and full compliance by the area with NCCIS, cleansing of legacy data and improving information systems and data within the area.
  • An experienced social worker has been engaged to run mentoring and coaching sessions with staff to address training and leadership issues. Sessions will include accountability, responsibility, the implementation of national policies etc.
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