ISPCC Responds to RTÉ Report of Foster Care Abuse
The ISPCC has responded to RTÉ reports of a case in Galway in which three young girls were sexually abused while in foster care, leading to a recent conviction by commending the women involved in the case, and calling for immediate assurances from Tusla about the foster care system.
“The RTÉ reports today share harrowing details of the terrible abuse suffered by three young girls while in the care of the State’s foster care services. Now women, some of them have bravely come forward to tell their story, and have described the terrible impact the abuse they suffered has had on their lives.
“It is difficult for children to disclose abuse, and these women’s experiences demonstrate how important it is that when abuse happens children are listened to, taken seriously, and their claims acted on swiftly. Adults have a duty to protect children, and adults who are specifically charged with the care of vulnerable children must ensure that every possible action is taken to protect children who may be at risk of harm. Where children are failed and abuse occurs, every possible support must be in place for children or adults disclosing child abuse; including supports within the Garda system to minimise re-traumatisation, support through investigation and prosecution of offenders, and support through conviction, sentencing and its aftermath,” ISPCC CEO Grainia Long said.
“It is also essential that when a child is in foster care, if there is any suspicion of abuse or any risk of harm to a child, immediate steps are taken to protect that child and any other children in the placement. Foster care is the backbone of the care system in Ireland. 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. It is also essential that foster families and those considering becoming foster carers can have confidence in the system, its supports and its protections for those in care and for foster carers.
“It is not clear that this assurance is there at present. Recent publication by HIQA of reports on the foster care services provided by Tusla have indicated that in services around Ireland the standards set by the State for foster care services are not being met. The reports published recently are of inspections in recent months, not of historic cases. Assessments of foster families’ suitability are not happening in a timely fashion. Children have been placed in families without proper assessments occurring. In some areas, reviews of foster care placements are not happening in a timely fashion, or at all. There has been a lack of supervision and poor support of foster carers noted in many of the services inspected. There is a huge instance of major non-compliance with the State’s own standards for foster care.”
“It is imperative that everyone involved in child protection can be fully confident in the foster care system. Over the past year, Tusla services have consistently failed to meet HIQA’s standards, in the areas of assessment, review and governance. The ongoing breaches of standards in foster care must be addressed,” Ms Long concluded.