ISPCC Expresses Concern at Major Non-Compliance in Foster Care Services in Three Areas
The national child protection charity expressed concerns at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of major non-compliances with national standards in foster care services operated by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, in the Dublin South Central, Dublin North City and Cavan / Monaghan areas.
Announced inspections were conducted in each of these areas as part of HIQA’s work to monitor the quality of services provided by Tusla. The inspections focused on Tusla’s performance in the recruitment, assessment, approval, supervision and review of foster carers. Each inspection report found significant non-compliances in areas including safeguarding, managing child protection concerns and Garda vetting of foster carers.
Performance was measured against eight standards. Major non-compliance with six of these standards was found in the inspection of the foster care service in the Dublin South Central area. In the Dublin North City foster care service inspection, major non-compliance with five of these standards was identified. In the inspection of the foster care service operated in Cavan / Monaghan, major non-compliance with two of the standards was found.
ISPCC CEO Grainia Long said: “The three inspection reports published by HIQA today highlight a number of concerning findings of major non-compliance with standards in foster care services, in each of the three areas of Dublin South Central, Dublin North City and Cavan / Monaghan.
“So far in 2018, HIQA has published five inspection reports of foster care services provided by Tusla. In all cases the inspections were announced inspections – that is, they were planned and the service was aware of them in advance. In five out of five cases, the services were deemed non-compliant, and in all cases, there were aspects of major non-compliance.
“As more inspections of Tusla’s foster care services are published, we are gaining a clearer picture of the practices being followed, where services are meeting children’s needs and and how and where they fall short of the State’s own standards for foster care services. It is deeply concerning that the same standards are being missed time and time again by services operated by the same agency. It is essential that these patterns are reversed and in the case of foster services, that HIQAs recommendations are implemented and that they make a permanent difference to a critical service for children.
“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.
“It is essential that there is a clear demonstration by the Child and Family Agency of how learnings from failings in one service – and the improvements that are put in place as a result – are being applied across the system.
“The ISPCC is pleased to see that action plan responses have been provided by Tusla in respect of the Dublin South Central, Dublin North City and Cavan / Monaghan service areas to addresses the non-compliances highlighted in these reports. We anticipate the implementation, without delay, of the actions outlined; these include the preparation of a national policy on responding to concerns, the completion of Health and Safety checklists with foster carers and an increased focus on the recruitment and retention of foster carers.”