Consultation Begins on Draft Standards for the Safety of Children in Residential or Foster Care

Date of publication:

New draft standards for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in residential and foster care services are being launched for public consultation today by the Health Information and Quality Authority. 

Dr Marion Witton, Chief Inspector of Social Services at the Health Information and Quality Authority said: “The Authority is dedicated to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children, regardless of where they live. The Draft National Quality Standards for Residential and Foster Care Services for Children and Young People set out what a high quality, safe residential or foster care service should be. The standards will empower children and young people by telling them what to expect from these services, no matter where the service is located or who delivers it”.

“Recent reports into the care of children have demonstrated the importance of keeping all children safe. These children are some of the most vulnerable in our society and they require special consideration and protection, whether they are living in a residential care home, in a detention school or in foster care,” she said.

The draft standards are grouped under seven headings and cover issues such as quality of life, children’s and young people’s rights, keeping children and young people safe and protected and educational, health and social development needs.

“The overall aim in creating the draft standards is to promote good, safe practice. We want to encourage the continuous quality improvement of residential and foster care services for children and young people in the coming years. The draft national quality standards also outline what is expected of the providers of these services and I believe they will contribute towards ensuring that the children and young people who need these services live in a safe, caring and respectful environment.”

The Health Information and Quality Authority currently inspects foster care services, children’s detention schools and HSE-run children’s residential services. These responsibilities will be extended to include the registration and inspection of all residential services for children and young people with the anticipated commencement of new functions under the Health Act, 2007.

The Authority is inviting the views of interested parties, the general public and children and young people themselves on the Draft National Quality Standards for Residential and Foster Care Services for Children and Young People.

Information collected from this consultation process will be used to inform the development of the national standards which will be published later this year. Following this, the Minister for Health and Children will draft regulations giving the Authority the legal powers to register and inspect against these standards.

Copies of the draft standards, and an easy to read version, can be downloaded from our website, Comments can be submitted by completing the feedback form on our website, by going to our facebook page (search for HIQA on or Twitter ( You can also email us at (consultation closed) or post your comments to the Health Information and Quality Authority, Children’s Consultation, George’s Court, George’s Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7. The deadline for receipt of submissions is 31 March 2010.


Further Information: 

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

01 814 7481 / 086 2447 623

Notes to the Editor: 

  • Development of the draft standards: The Authority worked with an expert advisory group to develop the draft standards. This group included experts in social care, child protection and service delivery. Importantly, the expert group also included young people and children’s/young people’s advocates.
  • Existing children’s inspection process The Authority’s Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) currently has responsibility for the inspection of foster care settings, children detention schools, HSE-run children’s residential services and special care units for children. All inspection reports from this process are published online at
  • Next steps towards finalising the standards The Authority is fully committed to an inclusive consultation process and is seeking input from special interest groups, children and young people, families of those who use social care services and service providers. All feedback will be considered by the Authority as it finalises the standards.
  • Once approved by the Board of the Authority, the standards will be sent to the Minster for Children for consideration. Regulations will then be drafted by the Department of Health and Children to give statutory effect to the new standards.