Children’s services publication statement 04 October 2019
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an inspection report on Tusla’s Dublin Mid-Leinster region’s compliance with the Child Care (Placement of Children in Care) Regulations, 1995 (22–25).
HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 69 of the Child Care Act, 1991 as amended by Section 26 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011, to inspect social work services provided to children placed in residential care by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla).
An announced inspection of the Tusla Dublin Mid-Leinster region was carried out between 18 and 20 June 2019. The inspection found that both Dublin South West/ Kildare/West Wicklow and the Dublin South East/Wicklow service areas were substantially compliant with three of the four regulations, and moderately non-compliant with one regulation.
Inspectors found that social workers maintained a case record on each child they place in residential care. However, these records varied in quality, and access to information held on Tusla’s national electronic information, such as statutory social work visits, was difficult to find. Although there were examples of very good practice, gaps in information were found in some case records. For example, they did not contain required information such as children’s medical reports, birth certificate or records of statutory social work visits.
Planning for children placed in residential care was good, and although some written care plans required more detail, they were found to be child-centred, comprehensive and informed by the voice of the child. Children’s needs were clearly identified, as were the supports they required and the arrangements for contact with their families. The majority of care plans were reviewed regularly and, while others were delayed, the reason for this was connected to the child’s circumstances. The care planning process required improvement in relation to sharing decisions made when these plans were reviewed with the appropriate people.
All children in the sample chosen by inspectors across the two service areas had an allocated social worker at the time of the inspection. While it was evident that social workers had developed good working relationships with children in residential care and that they were knowledgeable about their needs and sensitive to their circumstances, social work records did not always reflect this level of detail. This was a missed opportunity to demonstrate good practice.
Statutory social work visits took place but practice was not consistent. For example, most children were visited regularly and more frequently if required by their level of need. However, two children were found to have been visited in 2019, but not over the course of 2018. Across both service areas, records related to social work visits to children in residential care were not always easy to find.
Actions required to meet the regulations are outlined in an associated Action Plan submitted by Tusla Dublin Mid-Leinster region.
Areas of improvement are also identified in the report which do not affect judgments on compliance with the Child Care (Placement of Children in Care) Regulations, 1995 but require action by the Tusla Dublin Mid-Leinster region to improve the delivery of its services to children in residential care.