Children’s services publication statement 14 September 2022

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two inspection reports on the Child and Family Agency (Tusla’s) foster care services in the Dublin South East/Wicklow and the Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary service areas.

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 and 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.

HIQA conducted thematic inspections of the foster care service in Dublin South East/Wicklow in May 2022 and Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary in June 2022. These thematic inspections are primarily focused on assessing the efficacy of governance arrangements across foster care services and the impact these arrangements have for children in receipt of foster care. This thematic programme is the third and final phase of a three-phased schedule of inspection programmes monitoring foster care services.

The inspection reports and compliance plans can be found at the link at the bottom of the page.

Dublin South East/Wicklow

In Dublin South East/Wicklow, of the eight standards assessed, three were moderate non-compliant, four were substantially compliant, and one was compliant. The area’s governance, management and monitoring arrangements required improvement. These included improvements in relation to case recording and the use of Tusla’s National Child Care Information System (NCCIS), the quality of supervision, and increased management oversight to ensure that trackers held within the area were accurate, up to date, and that necessary actions were completed. Improvements were also required in the management and monitoring of care plans and foster care contracts, to ensure they were completed and signed in a timely manner. Consistent auditing activity was required to ensure the delivery of safe, effective services. Oversight of the child-in-care register also required improvement. 

The recruitment of foster carers in the area continued to be a risk for the service, as despite efforts being made by the service at a local level, recruitment campaigns had not yet delivered the range of foster carers required to meet the needs of children in care.

Children placed with non-statutory agencies had detailed and up-to-date care plans which contained a good overview of children’s needs. However, inspectors found that while statutory visits were completed, these visits did not take place in line with regulations. Furthermore, case notes and records of statutory visits were not consistently available on file. 

Carlow/Kilkenny/South/Tipperary

In Carlow/Kilkenny/South/Tipperary, of the eight standards assessed, three were moderate non-compliant and five were substantially compliant. HIQA found that the area continued to make steady progress in delivering service improvements. However, the area’s focus on the voice and experiences of children and young people required strengthening. 

The service area had strong leadership, a clear direction and plans for the governance and delivery of its fostering services. However, the area continued to face significant challenges in recruiting and retaining sufficient social workers for the children-in-care teams. At the time of this inspection, 129 out of 302 children in foster care did not have an allocated social worker. To help address gaps in statutory arrangements, most children were instead visited by a social care worker. This approach, while ensuring children were regularly seen and spoken with, was not in line with regulations and led to delays in some children’s needs being identified and met. Children with high and complex needs also had long waiting times for specialist services or supports. 

The management of complaints was not always timely and further work was required to embed learning from complaints within service improvement plans and to encourage feedback about what was working well.