Children’s services publication statement, 12 July 2017

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an inspection report on a private foster care service. The report refer to Fresh Start Foster Care Service, operating in the Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla’s) Dublin Mid-Leinster region.

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.

Of the 11 standards assessed in this inspection of the Fresh Start Foster Care Service, four were found to be compliant, two moderately non-compliant, and five standards were judged to be majorly non-compliant. However, prior to the publication of this report HIQA were informed that due to ongoing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, the director of the service had taken the decision to close the Fresh Start Foster Care Service.  

Since the previous inspection, the service had undergone a number of positive governance and management changes. The service had some systems in place to ensure children were aware of their rights and children said they were happy and felt safe. All foster carers who had children placed with them were supervised and supported by a professionally qualified social worker.

However, at the time of inspection the service was not taking further admissions and Tusla confirmed that further requests for placements would not be made with the service until assurances that the deficiencies in the service were met.

It was apparent to inspectors that a large amount of work had been undertaken to address deficits in the service’s records since the previous inspection. Consequently, the extent and impact of the previous lack of records and the poor management systems became apparent, and historical and current significant risks were identified.

There was no matching process for children who went on respite to other Fresh Start Foster Care Service foster carers and the systems for assessing prospective foster carers had significant deficits. Furthermore, the supervision of foster carers required improvement to ensure that issues and concerns were addressed promptly. Due to the concerns identified, inspectors escalated a number of issues to the company director prior to the end of the inspection.

Fresh Start Foster Care Service has provided action plan responses to address the non-compliances identified on inspection which contain timelines for implementing these actions.