Children’s services publication statement 09 November 2018

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an inspection report on the foster care service operated by Five Rivers Ireland. Five Rivers Ireland is a private foster care provider that operates in Tusla’s Dublin Mid-Leinster and South Regions.

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 foster care services provided by Tusla, to report on its findings to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and to inspect services taking care of a child on behalf of Tusla, including non-statutory providers of foster care. HIQA monitors foster care services against the 2003 National Standards for Foster Care.

As part of its 2017 and 2018 monitoring programme, HIQA has conducted thematic inspections across all 17 Tusla service areas and in all six private foster care providers. These inspections focused on the recruitment, assessment, approval, supervision and review of foster carers. These thematic inspections were announced and covered specific standards relating to this theme.

In an announced inspection of Five Rivers Ireland in May 2018, of the six standards assessed, three were compliant, two were substantially compliant and one was found to be a moderate non-compliance.

The service was well resourced and well managed, and there was evidence of good practice in relation to the support provided to foster carers. Each foster care household had an allocated fostering link social worker, who visited regularly and provided good child-centred support to foster carers. Foster carers and children in care received additional support from the therapeutic team. Respite care was also provided as a support to foster carers and enhanced support services were provided when foster carers were caring for children with complex needs. There were regular events organised by the provider to facilitate informal support between foster carers and there was a dedicated out-of-hours service. Documenting the supervision process for foster carers required standardisation and improvement, as it did not always reflect the supervision that was being provided.

Assessments of prospective foster carers were comprehensive and there was good oversight by the management team. Where there were delays completing fostering assessments, the reasons for this were recorded and managed. There was a clear process for the approval of foster carers by the relevant foster care committee.

All foster carers received foundational training before their approval as foster carers, and there was a programme of regular training events in place for all foster carers. There was good management oversight of training.

Reviews of foster carers were completed in a timely manner in line with the standards, and additional reviews took place following any allegations or concerns. However, recording of the review process was not consistent; some recommendations were of a general nature and were not always implemented in a timely manner.

There were good systems in place to ensure that children were safe and protected. An Garda Síochána (police) vetting of foster carers and of significant adults was updated on a three-yearly basis, and there was a system in place to alert social workers in advance of Garda vetting becoming due for renewal. Improvement was required in relation to the appropriate, timely and consistent reporting of child protection concerns. In addition, management oversight of the progress of investigations into allegations against foster carers required improvement so that when delays occurred, these were escalated appropriately. During the inspection, some actions were immediately taken to address the identified deficits. Following the inspection, Five Rivers Ireland provided a written response outlining the actions taken to address all of these issues.

The provider has submitted an action plan response to address the non-compliances identified on inspection. The inspection report and action plan can be found at the link below.