Children’s services publication statement 8 December 2020
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published a thematic inspection report on the Child Protection and Welfare Service operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Waterford/Wexford service area. Thematic inspection programmes aim to promote quality improvement in a specific area of a service and to improve the quality of life of children and families receiving the services.
HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 8(1) (c) of the Health Act 2007 to monitor the quality of services provided by Tusla to protect children and promote their welfare. HIQA monitors the performance of Tusla against the National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children and advises the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla.
HIQA conducted a thematic inspection of the child protection and welfare service in the Waterford/Wexford over four days in August 2020. This themed inspection aimed to assess compliance with the national standards relating to managing referrals from receipt to the point of completing an initial assessment. Of the six standards assessed, two were compliant, two were substantially compliant and two were partially compliant.
At the time of inspection, the service had clear governance structures in place. Staff and management within the service area demonstrated a commitment to delivering a good quality child protection and welfare service that was responsive to children’s needs.
The culture of the service promoted child-centred interventions and representing the voice of the child throughout the service was a priority. Children and families were communicated with in a clear and sensitive manner taking into account their age, stage of development and any specific communication needs, as appropriate. Overall, initial assessment of children’s needs and risks were of good quality, but were not always completed within Tusla’s own timelines. In addition, this inspection identified that where risks required a regional or national response, the process for addressing these was not effective and contingency planning for the management of these risks long-term, also required improvement.
The area had a quality improvement plan, which was clearly defined, relevant to service risks and was being implemented in line with service plans.
There was a high number of vacant posts resulting in a shortage of permanent staff in the area. As a consequence of staff shortages there were delays in response times for some children and Tusla’s timeframes for the completion of preliminary enquiries and initial assessments were not being consistently met.
Improvements were required in areas such as risk management, data management and safety planning for children awaiting assessment.
The report can be found on www.hiqa.ie.