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Concerns relating to foster care must be addressed - Ó Caoláin

20 November, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, speaking on International Children’s Day, has raised concerns about the findings of a report issued today by HIQA on foster care in the Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow region.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“I recognise the very important and very sensitive work undertaken by foster families. I applaud all those families that provide such important care and give the gift of a home and a family to vulnerable children.

“Túsla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory responsibility to promote the welfare of these children and protect those who are at risk of harm. Children in foster care need a high quality service which is safe and one that is regularly assessed by designated social workers. Foster carers must be able to provide those entrusted to them with warm and nurturing relationships so that those cared for can aspire to and attain their best. These services need to be well governed so that these outcomes are achieved consistently.

“The report released today recognises that outcomes for many of the children were positive, and this comes as no surprise to those of us who understand the dedication and hard work that goes into the care and love provided by foster families across the country. It was noted that staff vacancies had a significant impact on the foster care service. Vulnerable children must be recognised as a priority and our public services must be funded in a way that is cognisant of this.

“It was recognised that a significant number of children in foster care did not have a social worker allocated. This issue of the inadequate supply of social workers has been raised on multiple occasions by myself and others in both the Dáil and other settings. This must be prioritised so that children who might be at risk can be adequately protected. We now know that some children were left in situations where no professional was visiting households to ensure the care was safe and appropriate.

“The report also focuses on shortcomings in management and governance structures. The service also failed to fulfil all of its statutory requirements in relation to children in foster care. These concerns must be addressed, for the sake of the children and their foster families” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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