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Evidence review to inform the development of National Standards for Children’s Social Services

Status: Published on

This evidence review was developed as part of the standards development process for a new set of National Standards for Children's Social Services. It summarises international, national and academic evidence to identify characteristics of good child-centred practices for children engaged in children’s social services. Key themes emerged over the course of the review in relation to best practice for effective child services. These themes focused on: 

  • participation
  • safety and wellbeing
  • strengthening families and communities
  • accountable services
  • responsive services.

HIQA is developing an overarching set of national standards for the care and support of children using health and social care services. This is the first time a set of standards that focuses on the needs of a whole population across health and social care services has been developed by HIQA. These standards will set out the responsibilities of both health and social care providers when they are working to care for and support children. 

As part of these overarching standards, HIQA has committed to the development of National Standards for Children’s Social Services. HIQA recognises the importance of increasing the quality and safety of care for all children, especially children who are at risk in the community, or who are living away from their families in the care of the State. These standards are for all children who are using social services and they will apply at all points of the child’s engagement with these services. The intention is that these standards will replace existing standards for individual services, that is national standards for foster care, protection and welfare of children, special care units and children’s residential centres. The standards will support staff working with children who are at risk or who are in the care of the State to understand how their work can support positive outcomes for children and their families in the short, medium and long-term. 

HIQA has undertaken extensive stakeholder engagement to inform the development of the standards, meeting with children and families with experience of these services, as well as advocates and staff responsible for the safety and wellbeing of children from a wide range of sectors.  

Together, findings from the evidence review and feedback from stakeholders will inform the development of the Draft National Standards for Children’s Social Services. These draft standards will then be made available for a six-week public consultation and key stakeholders and the wider public will have an opportunity to share their views on the draft standards.

These standards will be aligned with the new Overarching National Standards for the Care and Support of Children Using Health and Social Care Services, and will describe in more detail how these services can support children who are at risk or in the care of the State.