HIQA publishes overview of Tusla’s foster care services in 2017 to 2018

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an overview report on inspections in the Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla’s) foster care services for 2017 to 2018 as well as four regional follow-up inspections of foster care services.

Today’s overview report summarises the overall findings from all 17 service area inspections, conducted throughout 2017 and 2018, and the follow-up inspections and desktop reviews carried out in all four regions in 2018. The overview report examines the effectiveness of Tusla’s overall governance of foster care and its ability to promote the transfer of learning nationally.

HIQA identified mixed levels of compliance with the National Standards for Foster Care across all 17 service areas. Follow-up inspections in the service areas with the highest levels of non-compliance found that many areas had made significant improvements to address the findings of the 2017 inspections. For example, improved regional governance and auditing arrangements were in place, including the establishment of regional forums to address the common issues found within the fostering service throughout each region.

However, HIQA found a lack of consistent practices and shared learning within and between regions. Individual initiatives that were effective in one area were not being transferred to other areas, presenting a missed opportunity to implement initiatives already deemed to be successful to other areas. The lack of shared learning and development of common systems across the country was noted in the variety of different systems that had been set up nationally.

Similarly, Tusla resources were not effectively used and duplication of work was occurring. For example, many areas had convened individual working groups to look at aspects of practice, such as the processes in place for placing children in an emergency. However, inspectors found that some of these working groups were operating in isolation. As a consequence, several staffing groups across several areas were independently looking at the same issues.

While HIQA is cognisant of Tusla’s reported staffing shortages, it is essential that Tusla review operational practices and optimise staffing resources to prevent duplication of effort and inconsistency in practice. Further work is required by Tusla to consistently raise compliance with the National Standards nationally and to ensure that where risks remain, these risks are appropriately managed.

HIQA will continue to monitor areas where there continued to be major non-compliance found in 2018, and will continue to request and risk assess action plan updates and carry out risk-based inspections, where required.

The overview report and four regional reports are available below

For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
(01) 8147480 / 086 2447623

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 69 of the Child Care Act, 1991, as amended by Section 26 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011, to inspect foster care services provided by Tusla, to report on its findings to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and to inspect services taking care of a child on behalf of Tusla, including non-statutory providers of foster care. HIQA monitors foster care services against the 2003 National Standards for Foster Care.
  • Tusla is organised into four regions: the West, the South, Dublin Mid Leinster and Dublin North East. Each region is managed by a service director and is divided into several service areas that each provide a foster care service. In total, there are 17 services areas nationally.
  • Between 2017 and 2018, HIQA conducted thematic inspections in all 17 Tusla service areas, focusing on the recruitment, assessment, approval, supervision and review of foster carers, including the arrangements in place for safeguarding and child protection. All reports are available on www.hiqa.ie.  
  • In 2018, HIQA conducted regional follow-up inspections which examined the service areas with the highest levels of non-compliance. These four regional reports have been published today.
  • HIQA’s 2019 to 2020 foster care inspection programme will focus on the arrangements in place for the assessment of need for children in care and the care planning and review process, including preparation and planning for leaving care, matching carers with children and safeguarding. In order to ensure that regions promote learning throughout all service areas in their region, each region will have one area inspected in the first instance, and the subsequent inspections to the other areas in the region will consider whether learning has been transferred since the first inspection in the region.