Social Work system ‘a national scandal’ – Ó Laoghaire
Today during Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire raised the issue of the crisis within our Social Work service, with the increasing number of cases that do not have a Social Worker allocated to them becoming a national scandal.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire asked the Taoiseach to commit to doubling the Governments projections of employing Social Workers for 2017, at minimum, to alleviate some of the pressures faced by Social Work teams throughout the country, ensuring those most at risk get the help they require.
The Cork South-Central TD said:
“Joe, and his family, were known to the HSE Child and Family Services since he was a young child.
“There was a history of domestic violence & alcohol abuse in the family home. He was listed, by Túsla, as a high priority case, when he sadly, took his own life at the age of 15.
“Despite the fact that he had been identified as High Priority, he had not been allocated a Social Worker because of staff shortages.
“Avril’s family background was described as ‘characterised by domestic violence, criminality and changes of accommodation’.
“Avril had been out of contact with the Social Work Department for nearly two years when she died, not fully 17, with her case closed.
“These cases underline a system, that is broken, that stretches resources too thinly, including social workers doing their best but utterly exhausted, overwhelmed and overworked.
“Túsla is losing 150 Social Workers a year. Despite efforts to recruit, the net increase in Child and Family Social Workers for 2016, was a mere 56.
“There are currently 5,720 unallocated cases, 1,057 of them being deemed as high priority. That is over a thousand Joes, a thousand Avrils.
“With a net increase of just 62 a year, that means it will take 6 years to allocate social workers to these cases.
“Our Social Care system has been stretched to breaking point, that it has long been neglected, and is a National Scandal requiring urgent intervention by Government.
“The current predicted net increase of 62 of Social Workers for the end of the year is unacceptable. We need at least, at least, double that by the end of the year, at minimum.
“As a state, we have an appalling history, in terms of the care of Children who are at risk, a record that stretches back decades; so we must rectify this as a matter of priority.”