Children’s services publication statement 12 February 2021
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published an inspection report on the foster care service operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Galway and Roscommon service area.
HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth 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 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 2019 and 2020 monitoring programme, HIQA conducted inspections across all 17 Tusla service areas, focusing on six standards: the child and family social worker, assessment of children and young people, care planning and review, matching carers with children and young people, safeguarding and child protection and preparation for leaving care and adult life.
HIQA conducted this inspection of the Galway and Roscommon service area, located in Tusla’s West region, from 9 to 12 November 2020. Of the six standards assessed, three standards were compliant, and three standards were substantially compliant.
All children in foster care had an allocated social worker at the time of the inspection. Most children who spoke with inspectors said positive things about their social workers, about their experience of being in foster care and the relationships they had made within families.
The majority of children had been visited by a social worker, as required. Visits that were recorded were of good quality, but the level of recording required improvement to reflect all of the work undertaken by social workers. Social workers were creative in how they maintained contact with children due to COVID-19 restrictions. Social workers who spoke with inspectors recognised and promoted children’s wellbeing and were aware of the needs of the children they worked with. Children’s needs were assessed in a timely manner and the assessments were of good quality.
Child-in-care reviews were well managed and the vast majority were up to date at the time of the inspection. Care plans were of good quality. Not all records were completed which meant there were delays in people receiving minutes of review meetings. Children were involved in the care planning processes and social workers made attempts to obtain children’s views prior to meetings. Foster carers spoke positively about reviews and felt that social workers implemented children’s care plans. Children who had a disability or additional therapeutic needs received specialist supports, as required, in line with their care plans. When placements were at risk of ending, the area made efforts to put supports in place. All children had a placement plan. A small number of voluntary care agreements remained incomplete despite having been reviewed prior to the inspection.
The area had a matching process in place for children to be placed with foster carers who had the capacity to meet their needs. There were a small number of children placed outside of the area in placements assessed as being the most appropriate to meet the children’s needs.
There was appropriate management of child protection concerns made by children in care. All necessary actions were taken to prioritise children’s safety and wellbeing. Complaints, concerns and allegations against foster carers and other allegations made by children were assessed and investigated in line with Children First (2017).
There was a good aftercare service in place; however, some improvements were required, as not all eligible children had been referred to the aftercare service. Assessments of need and aftercare plans completed by the aftercare service were of good quality but there were some delays in completing them.
Issues outlined above and other issues identified during the inspection are contained in the compliance plan, which can be found at www.hiqa.ie.