The service had made good progress in implementing actions to address the risks to children in accordance with the required standards, legislation and policy. There were gaps which posed risks to the service, and these required attention. These included adherence to time frames as stated in their standard business processes, timely notifications of suspected abuse to An Garda Síochána and adherence to local standard operating procedures, such as the frequency of visits to children listed on the Child Protection and Notification System (CPNS).
Managerial oversight had improved in the area for the child protection and welfare service. Robust monitoring systems had been established to drive further improvement and to learn from previous evaluations of the service.
Referrals were screened promptly. Staff members were knowledgeable about categories of abuse, thresholds of need and prioritisation levels. Social workers made good evidence-based decisions regarding the appropriate next steps for children and families. Further improvement was required in the timelines for completing preliminary enquiries.
Children who required immediate care and protection due to risk of serious harm, were afforded timely access to child protection and welfare services. Their cases were well managed and safety planning was good. Procedures were in place to ensure social workers could manage and respond to risks of harm to children. Further improvement was required in relation to the oversight of children who were on the CPNS, to ensure they were visited at the frequency required.
There was good practice found in cases requiring further intervention and evidence of good support to promote children’s safety and welfare. The area had reduced both waiting lists and the length of time that children were on waiting lists. However, waitlists remained for initial assessments and for further intervention, which meant that assessments of children’s needs were not completed within the required time frames.
Social workers and their managers had made progress to improve the quality and timelines of initial assessments since the last inspection. This was particularly evident since the restructuring of the service. There was good quality assessment, and analysis of risks. Children’s needs were also clearly identified, and there was managerial oversight on assessment records.
The service area had made good progress in addressing previously unmanaged risks in relation to allegations made by adults who alleged they were abused as children. Senior management had significantly strengthened its partnership with the Gardaí. A process for joint working and information exchange had been put in place to enable the ongoing tracking of concerns and progress. Management arrangements required strengthening to provide a clear pathway for managing complaints and promoting a consistent response.