Children’s services publication statement 22 July 2020
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published two inspection reports on the foster care service operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Mayo service area and private operator Foster Care Ireland in Tusla’s Dublin North East 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.
As part of its 2019 and 2020 monitoring programme, HIQA conducted an inspection of Tusla’s Mayo service and an announced thematic inspection of Foster Care Ireland in February 2020.
HIQA’s inspection of foster care in Tusla’s Mayo service area focused 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. Of the six standards assessed, three standards were compliant, and three standards were substantially compliant.
Tusla’s Mayo service showcased good quality care, with all children having an allocated social worker, who showcased good understanding of their needs. While overall, the service was good, increased management oversight was required regarding the timely de-activation of children from the child protection notification system and ensuring that all children received the results from their child-in-care reviews.
The area had an established aftercare service; however, 12 children were on a waiting list in the area for an assessment. Additionally, 13 children were awaiting approval for long-term placements, which were under review at the Foster Care Committee. These were tracked and monitored by their social worker.
The inspection of Foster Care Ireland focused on the recruitment, assessment, approval, supervision and review of foster carers. Of the seven standards assessed, six were found to be compliant, and one was substantially compliant.
HIQA found that Foster Care Ireland was well resourced and managed, and there was good oversight to ensure that children were protected and that foster carers were well supported and communicated with regularly.
Safeguarding arrangements were effectively managed, with regular An Garda Síochána (police) vetting for carers and those who are in close contact with children. Child protection and welfare concerns were appropriately reported. However, while information was promptly shared with relevant social workers by phone, it was not consistently evident that the mandated report was made in a timely way.
The inspection reports and compliance plans can be found on www.hiqa.ie.