Updated: 28/07/17 : 12:12:35
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Failings found in Tusla's fostering services in Sligo/Leitrim/Cavan

A report by health watchdog Hiqa has found failings in Tusla’s fostering services in the Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan areas.

Fostering services in the region were inspected over three days in April with a focus on the recruitment, assessment, supervision and support of foster carers.

In the 12 months before the inspection there had been a high level of staff turnover - including several changes of principal social worker and periods of staff shortages - impacting the frequency of visits to foster carers.

Garda vetting had not been updated for 34 per cent of foster carers, and half of all foster carers had not been reviewed in over three years.

Relatives who had children placed with them were not supervised and supported while waiting for assessments to be completed.

In particular, there were significant concerns about the recording, filing and IT systems, as critical information on foster carers was often difficult to establish.

Complaints were not appropriately classified, and key information on foster carers was not readily accessible.

The report found home visits were often not carried out within the required time frames.

In one case, a child was placed with long-term general foster carers, but there was a gap of seven months between home visits by a link worker; in another case where a child was placed with relative carers there was a period where a link worker did not visit for 10 months.

Inspectors noted child protection and welfare concerns or allegations about foster carers were not consistently managed and investigated in line with safe care practices and Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

There were gaps in information about the investigation of allegations process on foster carer files. Notifications of allegations were not always made to the foster care committee in a timely manner, and foster carer reviews following allegations were not done in a timely way.

Due to the significant concerns over the filing, recording and IT systems in the area, inspectors were concerned about the managerial oversight and monitoring of the fostering service and brought this issue to the area manager, who provided Hiqa with an action plan to address these deficits.

The Hiqa reports can be found here.

Irish Times