Children’s services publication statement 24 November 2020
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an inspection report on the foster care service operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Louth Meath service area.
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 is conducting 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 an inspection of the Louth Meath service area, located in Tusla’s Dublin North East region, from 19 to 26 August 2020. Of the six standards assessed, three standards were compliant, and three standards were substantially compliant.
Children spoke positively about their foster carers, and their allocated social worker and were satisfied with the level of contact they had with their families. About a third of children who completed questionnaires as part of the inspection process, said they attended their child in care review meetings where their care plans were discussed. Social workers talked to children about the decisions that were made at these meetings. Almost all children involved with the aftercare service said they were helped to develop independent living skills and manage on their own.
At the time of inspection there were 379 children in foster care in the area, and ninety nine per cent had an allocated social worker. There was good management oversight of children who did not have an allocated social worker. Staff were creative in how they maintained contact with children during the restrictions due to COVID-19 and when home visits were required, risk assessments were conducted to ensure they complied with public health advice.
Children’s needs were assessed in a timely manner and the completed assessments were of good quality. However, systems of management oversight did not always ensure that all children were visited in line with regulations.
Complaints, concerns, and allegations against foster carers and other allegations made by children in care were assessed and investigated in line with Children First (2017), but there were some delays in processing these.
Other areas requiring improvement related to the register of children in care, increasing the numbers of foster carers in the area and maintaining up-to-date voluntary consent of parents.
Issues outlined above and other issues identified during the inspection are contained in the compliance plan, which can be found at www.hiqa.ie. The compliance plan will continue to be monitored as part of HIQA’s ongoing regulatory activity.