Children’s services publication statement 3 May 2023

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two inspection reports on children’s residential centres operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Dublin North East region and the South East region.

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 children’s residential care services provided by Tusla. HIQA monitors Tusla’s performance against the National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres and advises the Minister and Tusla. HIQA conducted both of these unannounced inspections in January 2023.

Inspection 1

This inspection was a routine inspection to monitor the quality of the service and the level of compliance with the national standards. The inspection assessed eight of the national standards and found that five standards assessed were compliant and three were substantially compliant. 

There were effective governance and management systems in place which ensured a good quality and safe service was delivered. There was a clear culture of respect for young people’s rights in the centre, as their rights were promoted and staff advocated for and on behalf of the young people. Each young person’s dignity and privacy was also respected and promoted in the centre. Young people experienced care and support that promoted positive behaviour. Staff were skilled at developing supportive relationships with young people which helped them to learn and progress their goals. There were good safeguarding practices in place and staff in the centre worked in partnership with young people, their families, social workers and external agencies to promote their safety and welfare.  

Some areas required improvement. The care planning policy in place in the centre did not fully reflect the unique approach to care planning that was implemented in the centre. The statement of purpose was not reviewed within the time frame set out in Tusla’s policy, and the centre did not provide an annual review of compliance with the service’s objectives as required.

Following the inspection, management submitted a satisfactory compliance plan to address the three standards deemed substantially compliant.

Inspection 2

This inspection primarily focused on the leadership and management of the centre and how effective they were in ensuring that a good quality and safe service was being provided to children. Additionally, it focused on the care and support children received and how children’s rights were promoted and realised. The inspection found that of the eight standards assessed, three were compliant and five were substantially compliant. 

There was ineffective leadership in understanding children with complex needs and in developing the staff team to gain the skills and experience that enabled them to actively support each child. The staff team promoted positive engagement with social workers and external agencies involved in children’s lives and the manager’s approach was open, honest and collaborative. However, managers lacked the knowledge and oversight of all decisions made related to children’s care planning.  Further work was required around safety planning and risk management of cases where children presented with complex needs, so as to ensure approaches for addressing risk were consistently applied.

Staff and managers at the centre possessed a good understanding and knowledge of children’s rights and how these were promoted in the service. Children were made aware of their rights from the beginning of their admission to the centre. They told inspectors that their right to access information about them was promoted by staff. Staff and managers arranged for an external children’s advocacy agency to visit and to speak with children about their rights when in care and how to contact an advocate to support them to have their say. The managers and staff provided different platforms for children to have a voice in the planning of the day-to-day service. Not all children had an up-to-date placement support plan and a behaviour support plan that identified all safety concerns and risks. A recent restrictive practice was not clearly identified or recorded appropriately. This limited children’s right to play, such as socialising with friends outside of the service and attending activities that were important to them.

The provider submitted a compliance plan to address the five standards deemed substantially compliant. 

The inspection reports and compliance plans can be found at the link below.