Belfast Telegraph

Fostering services face risk due to ‘poor governance’, report warns

Progress in relative assessments and placements of children with relatives in an emergency was inadequate, inspectors said.

Significant risks remain due to ‘poor governance’ of fostering services in parts of Dublin, an inspection said (Brian Lawless/PA)
Significant risks remain due to ‘poor governance’ of fostering services in parts of Dublin, an inspection said (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Significant risks remain due to “poor governance” of fostering services in parts of Dublin, an inspection said.

Progress in relative assessments and placements of children with relatives in an emergency was inadequate, inspectors said.

The process to ensure the completion of checks surrounding placements with relatives in an emergency had not been progressed.

An inspection report said: “The continued lack of progress in this area of risk was unacceptable.”

Despite the improved capacity of the service since the last inspection, significant risks remained due to poor governance and management within the fostering service HIQA

On Wednesday, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published an inspection report on the fostering and child protection and welfare services operated by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in the Dublin South Central service area.

It examined progress in implementing 2018 action plans addressing risks to children in child protection and welfare and foster care services.

Since last year, additional resources had been made available within the services in Dublin South Central and there had been a restructuring of foster care and child protection and welfare teams.

The report said: “Since the last foster care inspection, an additional fostering team had been set up.

“However, despite the improved capacity of the service since the last inspection, significant risks remained due to poor governance and management within the fostering service.”

While some progress was noted in the oversight and governance of the management of allegations and serious concerns against foster carers, improvements were still required in relation to appropriate categorisation of allegations and serious concerns, timely completion of assessments and notification of allegations and concerns to both the monitoring office and the foster care committee.

Improvements were found in some areas, all foster carers with children placed were now allocated a social worker and significant progress had been made in clearing the backlog of foster carer reviews.

There continued to be a risk of harm to children from ongoing delays in receiving services due to the referrals backlog requiring preliminary enquiries and initial assessments.

The report said: “The area had undergone a period of change and improvements were evident within the governance and management of the child protection and welfare service.

“Progress had been made in the management of waiting lists and there was an increased confidence within the area that all child protection and welfare referrals were being monitored.”

Data indicated 1,001 referrals on a waiting list for a child protection and welfare service, 714 awaiting preliminary enquiries, 269 awaiting initial assessment and 18 awaiting further assessment.

The report said: “The areas management team, while aware of the risks associated with large waiting lists for services, were confident in their oversight and management of waiting lists and felt assured that no child or children at immediate risk was waiting for a service.”

Improvements were noted in the quality of interventions provided to children who had an allocated social worker and the quality of initial assessments had improved.

Social work staff were more confident in lines of accountability and responsibility within the child protection service, the report said.

Analysis of potential risks through screening of referral information had improved since October 2018.

PA

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