Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Guidance for Researchers seeking ‘approval in principle’ to access Tusla research participants and data

In parallel to seeking ethical approval for a proposed research study, the Research Ethics Committee also requires evidence of ‘approval in principle’ from the relevant Area Manager/Director in the Agency.  This approval provides evidence to the REC that the relevant area/s have given permission to the researcher to recruit participants into the proposed study.

‘Approval in principle’ is accepted on Tusla letter-headed format (scanned PDF/word document) or copy of email from the Area Manager/Director and/or office (signed scanned version).

‘Approval in principle’ gives permission to the researcher to access and recruit in a Tusla site.  It is not the same as a gatekeeper for the study, which is usually another named person in Tusla who will assist the researcher with recruitment, once the proposed study is ethically approved and approval in principle is given by the relevant Tusla Are a Manager/Director.

The REC Administrator is available to advise researchers on the approval requirements for the proposed study:  recadmin@tusla.ie

Questions 45a has been categorised to allow you to tick operational sites in Tusla (e.g. recruiting by area, by region or a national study where recruitment is required in all Tusla operational areas) and 45b (by national corporate functions and by national services).  Where the site you want to recruit from has not been identified in the checklists, there is an option to tick ‘other’ and supply additional details.

Depending on the nature of the topic, and whether the proposed study is national, regional or area based, different approvals will be required. For example:

  • If a proposed research study that is seeking to recruit, for example, social work professionals in Cork, it will require evidence of ‘approval in principle’ from the Area Manager in Cork.
  • If the proposed research study is seeking to recruit, for example, social work professionals in Cork and Kerry, it will require evidence of ‘approval in principle’ from both Area Managers.
  • If the proposed research study is seeking to recruit multiple stakeholder groups e.g. social work professionals, social care professionals, family support workers, foster carers, children in care etc. from a particular area, it will require ‘approval in principle’ from the relevant Area Manager(s) depending on the number of areas involved in the proposed study. Please note that the recruitment of Tusla staff in TESS may also require the ‘approval in principle’ of the relevant TESS Regional Manager or National Service Director.  This may also be the case for other services that have a National Service Director e.g. Children’s Residential Services, Adoption Services, Domestic Violence Services and Early Years Service.
  • If the proposed research study is regional i.e. the researcher is seeking to recruit in a region or multiple regions, ‘approval in principle’ will be required from the Regional Service Directors
  • If the proposed research study is a national study i.e. all areas/regions will be involved in the proposed study, ‘approval in principle’ will be required from the Director of Services and Integration
  • If the proposed research study is a national study that may include a range of participants in Tusla services and other corporate functions, ‘approval in principle’ may be required from the Chief Executive Officer.
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