ISPCC expresses concern at findings of non-compliance with national standards in Tusla–run foster care services across Ireland
The ISPCC has expressed concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of failure by Tusla services to comply with national standards, following the publication of the report on the final inspection of Tusla-run foster care services across the country.
Announced inspections of foster care services were carried out nationwide by HIQA in each of Tusla’s service areas over the course of 2017 and the first half of 2018 and found that only two services were substantially compliant with the standard relating to Child Protection and 75 per cent of services were majorly non-compliant with the standard.
The ISPCC, which is the national child protection charity, having reviewed all 17 inspection reports, also expressed disappointment that Tusla services were found to be majorly non-compliant with a national standard in Review of Foster Carers across 88 per cent of service areas and majorly non-compliant with a national standard in Assessment and Approval of Relative Foster Carers across 44 per cent of service areas.
Performance in each of the service areas was measured against eight standards: Safeguarding and Child Protection; Assessment and Approval of Non-Relative Foster Carers; Assessment and Approval of Relative Foster Carers; Supervision and Support; Training; Review of Foster Carers, The Foster Care Committee and Recruitment and Retention of an Appropriate Range of Foster Carers.
In the case of seven foster care service areas, or 41 per cent, the services were not deemed fully compliant in any of the eight standards inspected. These areas were the Mid West; North Dublin; Cavan Monaghan; Cork; Dublin North City; Sligo Leitrim West Cavan; and Donegal.
The final inspection report, pertaining to the Donegal service area, identifies major non-compliance with three of the eight standards against which performance was measured. These three standards include Safeguarding and Child Protection, Assessment and Approval of Relative Foster Carers and Reviews of Foster Carers.
The ISPCC will seek clarification from Tusla and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on how recommended changes to practices and procedures in foster care services are being implemented to ensure high quality, fit-for-purpose services, supports and protections are in place for those in care and for foster carers.
ISPCC Director of Policy Cliodhna O’Neill said: “The ISPCC is disappointed at the findings of these reports of announced and themed inspections, which were carried out as recently as the first half of this year. As the national child protection organisation, we are particularly concerned at the finding that a national standard in Safeguarding and Child Protection was not fully complied with by the Child and Family Agency in foster care services in any one of their 17 service areas.
“These inspection reports of Tusla’s foster care services provide us with a clear, and concerning, image of the practices being followed, where services are meeting children’s needs and how and where they fall short of the State’s own standards for foster care services. The reports show us that the same standards are repeatedly not being met by services operated by the same agency. The findings record a deterioration in standards since previous inspections in a number of service areas and illustrate a need for significant improvement and development in these and other areas.
“Foster care is the backbone of the care system in Ireland; over 6,100 children are in foster care. Foster families play a hugely important role in supporting vulnerable children. It is essential that children in foster care and their families, as well as the public, can be assured that they can trust the system. In order to best protect the welfare of children, particularly those who may be vulnerable, it is essential that foster care services are effectively resourced and that carers are Garda vetted and provided with best-quality supervision and support to ensure they can continue to provide safe care to children who require it.”