HIQA Report on Túsla in Midlands raises questions about management – Ó Laoghaire
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has commented on the report by HIQA this morning into practices of Túsla in the Midlands region with a specific focus on children in foster care, which identified many key areas that were in deficit, but what was particularly concerning was that standard 19 “Management and monitoring of foster care agency” was identified as having “significant risks”.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said:
“This is the second report in 5 months that has highlighted significant concerns regarding the practices of management in the midlands area, the first being published in July.
“It appears that the situation in the region has actually gotten worse in that time period.
“While the reports dealt with different areas of TÚSLA's operations, there appears to be a reoccurring theme at management level and this must be addressed immediately.
“It appears that in a number of cases children in care were not visited regularly enough by a social worker, and that in high-priority cases, of children in care, safeguarding visits had not taken place. Where safeguarding visits did occur, it was found that when safeguarding visits did take place, they were ‘not always of good quality’.
“The report also found that this resulted in a number of children not having contact with birth families for ‘many months’.
“These are issues of significant concern in the context of how carefully children are listened to, and given the support they are entitled to, and supported in the best possible environments.
“I note that the report highlights the issue of under-staffing which boils down to resources available.
“The Minister has allocated an increase of €36.9 million in funding to Tusla in last week’s budget, which is welcome. I do however fear the amount required is far more substantial when you see the issues that are emerging from this morning’s report.
“Both the Minister and TÚSLA need to consider this report, its outcomes, and there is a need to review management procedures in the region to improve the outcomes and how such children are handled and supported in future.
“At the outset of the launch of TÚSLA, Sinn Féin warned that the organisation would fail to meet its objectives and purpose if it was not funded correctly. While specific issues clearly pertain to TÚSLA midlands, it is possible, that this is not an anomaly restricted to one particular area, but reflects wider problems in the overall running of TÚSLA, and in particular, their restrictions in relation to funding and staffing.”