Tusla Update on Services during COVID-19 Pandemi
Tusla – Child and Family Agency continues to provide key services across core areas that support children and families at risk during COVID-19 including:
- Child protection and children in care;
- Emergency out of hours services, and;
- Domestic, sexual and gender based violence services, in conjunction with our partners and funded agencies.
Tusla staff around the country are continuing to provide essential frontline services that cannot be delivered remotely. However in line with public health advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and instruction from an Taoiseach, the majority of our 3,800 mobile enabled staff are working remotely and playing their part in keeping children, families, and themselves safe, whilst playing their part in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking about Tusla’s response to COVID-19, Bernard Gloster, CEO, Tusla said: “As an agency that works with children and families across every town in the country, social work teams are working exceptionally hard to ensure that all concerns and referrals received about the safety or welfare of a child are screened and assessed in line with Children First, and responded to in line with normal practice. Anyone with a concern about a child’s safety or welfare should contact their local duty social work office.
Of course there are challenges in areas such as home visits and access arrangements for children in care as there is an important balance to be struck between the importance of contact for children and the absolute need to ensure the health of children, families, foster carers and staff.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic workers use risk assessment and their professional knowledge to help them with decisions about children’s current safety, and to help decide what actions are needed to increase safety. In the event that there is a requirement to undertake a visit to a family home/ foster carers home, staff are provided with detailed guidance to safeguard their health and the health of the child and family, while ensuring that the child is safe. Such visits where essential and not possible through other means are being carried out. They are also supported by their line managers and Area Managers in this difficult task, where ultimately minimising risk in accordance with NPHET direction, must be the priority during this national emergency.
Mr Gloster continued: “We are particularly cognisant of the additional challenges that changes in daily life have on some of the most vulnerable in our society including children who rely on school as a place of comfort and nutrition, and survivors of domestic, sexual and gender based violence.
I have engaged with a large number of our over 800 funded organisations, including those providing places of refuge and key voluntary services to ensure we work together, and that we support them in any way we can as they continue to play a vital role in the current landscape.
Tusla’s Education Support service (tess) is working with the Department of Education and Skills to ensure that children who require particular supports are considered and reached out to in appropriate ways.
We are acutely aware of the challenges in the Early year’s sector and with this in mind we have written to early years’ providers to notify them that providers who were required to submit a number of remaining documents by the 30th June to complete their registration has been deferred. Furthermore, providers who were not due to re-register by December 2019, but whose date falls due in the coming weeks will be facilitated with an expedited (accelerated/sped up) re-registration process. Some of the documentation required will also be deferred to a later date.
Whist we continue to take steps to ensure that our frontline services are appropriately staffed, we also endeavour to support other sectors to maintain crucial frontline services where possible, and have deployed some staff to our partners in the HSE and have reassigned some of our staff internally to other critical services. We appreciate the willingness and flexibility of our dedicated staff who are going above and beyond in these unprecedented times.”
Tusla, like all frontline services is continuously exploring options to secure PPE equipment and this is a challenge due to the global shortage. The agency has recently procured a limited supply of equipment through its work with partner agencies including the HSE. PPE is not required in all Tusla activities and therefore we will continue to source and supply for specific targeted situations.
We are issuing updated guidance to our staff in relation to required attendance to ensure continuity of frontline services and reflect public health advice.