Children’s services publication statement 8 March 2021
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 Louth Meath 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, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth 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 Tusla’s performance against the National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children and advises the Minister and Tusla.
HIQA conducted a thematic inspection of the child protection and welfare service in Louth and Meath over four days in November and December 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 seven standards assessed, two were compliant, three were substantially compliant and two were partially compliant.
Overall, inspectors found that this was a well-managed and led service. The area promoted a child-centred approach through the use of clear, open and honest communication with children and families. Children and parents told inspectors that they felt involved and consulted in how the service was run.
Inspectors found the service area to be proactive and responsive from the point of initial reporting of a concern to Tusla to the completion of the social work assessment. Immediate risk to children was responded to. However, improvements in the timeliness of preliminary enquiries and initial assessments were required, as delays meant the needs of some children were yet to be identified. In addition, the recording, quality and monitoring of safety plans required improvement.
Governance arrangements such as risk management, quality assurance and governance meetings supported the delivery of a good service to children and families. However, improvements were required in the management and oversight of cases awaiting allocation and of children’s records. There was a shortage of staff which resulted in delays to the service provided to children and their families. Also, not all staff received regular supervision within the frequency required by Tusla’s supervision policy.
The inspection report and compliance plan can be found on www.hiqa.ie.