ISPCC Welcomes Revised Terms of Reference of Commission of Investigation
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has today welcomed the publication of the revised terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation into the case of the Waterford foster care home, to include investigation of the cases of all foster children who lived in the home over the last three decades.
When a child is in the care of the State, there is an obligation to protect the child. The ‘Grace’ case has highlighted that this does not always happen, and in instances such as this, open and thorough investigative procedures are critical to ensure we understand the reasons for failures in standards.
It must not end there, however. If the State truly wishes to address the failures identified, a systemic review of procedures and operations in relation to support services for children – which goes beyond an investigation into a single foster care home – must be conducted, in a timely fashion.
More broadly, TUSLA should continue to examine whether resources or operational capacity is preventing the foster care system from meeting best practice standards, and whether existing policies and practice are fit for purpose.
ISPCC Chief Executive Grainia Long said: “Children and adults alike must be able to have confidence in the foster care system. To do this, they need access to all relevant supports and they must be listened to. All children must have an allocated social worker and a care plan. There is also a clear need for comprehensive out-of-hours social work support, with direct access by children and by foster carers.
“The foster care system must be adequately resourced, and staff and foster parents must be effectively managed, supported and supervised. There must be comprehensive assessments and ongoing monitoring of foster placements. It is also vital that the voices of children with disabilities are heard and that they are provided with an independent advocate to ensure their rights are protected.
“The majority of foster carers provide invaluable care and support to children and young people who may not live in a family environment. However, it is evident that the system that existed to protect and support vulnerable children did not do so.”