Child Agency Respond To Report Criticisms

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Tusla says it accepts the findings and recommendations in HIQA’s ‘Investigation into the management of allegations of child sexual abuse against adults of concern by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), upon the direction of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs .

This HIQA investigation highlights issues faced by the Agency, which we have been actively working to address over the past four years through a comprehensive organisational and cultural reform programme.

We welcome HIQAs’ recommendations and look forward to working with the oversight group being established by the Minister to support the implementation of the recommendations made by HIQA.

As an agency, we have previous experience of working with oversight groups and as an agency we work very successfully with these groups.

Commenting on the publication Fred McBride, Chief Executive, Tusla said:

“I welcome HIQA’s recognition that there is now clear strategic direction and a long term vision of what Tusla wants to achieve. Our core mission is the wellbeing of children and families and I want to reassure the public that where a child is referred to Tusla and there is an immediate risk they receive an immediate protective response to keep them safe from harm. Tusla welcomes HIQA’s confirmation in this investigation and all other HIQA inspection reports that practice in this area is consistent around the country.

I fully accept that inconsistencies in practice remain where children are not at an immediate risk, and this is something that is being addressed through our comprehensive programme of reform which is showing real improvements – for example on the 9th of July for the first time in the history of the State all 17 areas around the country will be able to access an integrated system through the National Childcare Information System.”

“It is also important to note that the area of child abuse and neglect is extremely challenging and complex. Children are abused or at risk of abuse every day in Ireland. Our staff are professionally trained to deal with complex human relations and often with unpredictable, irrational and sometimes violent human behaviour and whilst policies and procedures are of the utmost importance each situation requires and individual response and what is in the best interests of the child in one situation may not be appropriate in another.

In 2018 Tusla was allocated and additional €40.6m which brought the operational budget to over €750m* and this significant investment is allowing us to progress across key areas. It is important that we continue to improve consistency throughout the country so that children and families receive a timely and proportionate response and I welcome the announcement that the Minister is establishing an oversight group to support the implementation of the recommendations made by HIQA. We have previous experience of working with oversight groups and as an agency we work very successfully with these groups.”

Tusla welcomes all of the recommendations made by HIQA and will promptly:

  1. Review all of the findings of this investigation.
  2. Review these findings as they relate to all other child protection and welfare referrals.
  3. Review all of the recommendations made by the investigation team.
  4. Publish an action plan on www.tusla.ie outlining the measures to be taken and clear timelines for this.
  5. Continually review and update this action plan.
  6. Work with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to seek the assistance of the higher education and training establishments to create formal career-path mechanisms for students and graduates to support current and future workforce needs in Tusla.
  7. Work with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to review the current operational arrangements in Tusla to identify efficiencies and improvements in workflow, including the review of the existing social worker, social care worker and support staff skill-mix, and the development of a workforce strategy.