HIQA’s Children’s Team promote the safety and quality in some of the children’s social care services in Ireland. To do this we inspect some of the social care services children access to determine if they are meeting National Standards. This means that we visit services, talk to children, their families and other important people in their lives. This includes their carers, staff, social workers or guardians ad litem (a person who represents a child’s views).  It is really important to us that children who use these services are safe, respected and listened to.

National Standards describe what children and families using services should expect when they experience a particular social care service. When we visit services, we look at what is written down about children and how they are being cared for. Inspectors look at children’s files to see what is going well for them, and if there are any things that the service could do to make their lives better. We also look at complaints that have been made about the service to see if children have been unhappy with anything and what was done to improve the service.

We visit children who live in residential care, special care, detention and foster care to find out how children living in these places are getting along. We also inspect child protection services to make sure that children who live in families that need some extra support in order to do well, are getting the help that they need. We do not currently have a legal remit to monitor private children’s residential centres.

We then publish the findings of our inspection reports on our website. Sometimes reports may not be published due to the potential identifiable nature of the children, particularly in a small residential centre. Whether a report is published or not, Tusla and or the service provider will receive a copy of the report, which can be made available to children living in the centre and/or their families.

Children’s inspectors are always happy to meet with children, their families, significant others, foster carers, guardians ad litem and staff while on inspection.

Below is a description of the different types of services we inspect:

Child Protection

Families who use the child protection service often need help to make sure that children are able to do their best and be kept safe.

We visit these services from time to time to see if families are given the help that they need. We talk to children, their parents and families, social workers and any other people who work with them, to see how they’re getting on and if they are getting the service they need.

We inspect Tusla’s child protection and welfare services to measure their compliance with the National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2012) and its implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

Foster Care

When children who are in care and not able to live with their own parents go to live with another family, who become their foster carers.

Every so often, we visit social work departments to meet social workers and their managers who are responsible for children in care and foster carers. Social workers have to make sure that foster carers are able to look after children well and that they get the support they need to do this.

HIQA does not register or inspect individual foster carers. However, HIQA does inspect the organisations that recruit and support foster carers, including Tusla and private fostering agencies.

We inspect Tusla and private foster care services to measure their compliance with the National Standards for Foster Care (2003) and the regulations. We also assess how the service undertakes its statutory function and its implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

Residential Care

When social care workers look after children and young people who live in a house in the community.

We inspect Tusla’s statutory children’s residential centres to measure their compliance with the National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres (2001) and the regulations. We also assess how the centre undertakes its statutory function and its implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

Special Care

When foster carers or staff who work in residential care, and occasionally a family, are not able to keep children safe.

They are sometimes placed in what is called special care. Children are placed in special care to receive the additional help and supports they need. Special care is a building where the external doors are locked. Children attend school on the grounds of the unit.

We inspect Tusla’s special care units to measure their compliance with the National Standards for Special Care Units (2014) and its implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

Children’s Detention

When children get into trouble for breaking the law, a judge can decide to put them into the children’s detention campus.

This is a secure facility with locked doors, where children attend school on the campus.

Oberstown Children Detention Campus provides detention places to the Courts for girls up to the age of 18 years and boys up to the age of 17 years ordered to be remanded or committed on criminal charges. The Campus provides care, education, training and other programmes for young people, with the aim of reintegrating them back into the community, capable of making a positive and productive contribution to society. Two educational centres on the campus cater for all the young people who are detained there and these centres are inspected by the Department of Education and Skills. The Campus is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, through the Irish Youth Justice Service and managed by a Board of Management.

We inspect Oberstown Children Detention Campus to measure their compliance with the Standards & Criteria for Children Detention Schools (2004) and its implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).