Foster care allegations 'ignored' by State
Some children in State care remained in foster placements even though serious allegations were raised about their foster carers, an official report has found.
This is one of a number of highly critical findings in a Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) study of services for almost 370 children in foster care in the Dublin north-west area.
The authority said it could not be assured that all children were safe due to gaps in safeguarding.
There was also little evidence that lessons had been learned, despite three highly critical reports into the same area over the past three years.
In addition, many sibling children were being split up and placed in different homes, even though experts recommended it was in their best interests to stay together.
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald last night said the report’s findings were unacceptable.
“I will be urgently meeting the HSE and Gordon Jeyes, chief executive designate of the Child and Family Support Agency, in order to review the actions under way to address the critical issues identified.”
The HSE said it fully accepted the findings. However, it emphasised sections of the report which found many children were happy in their placements, were able to make choices in their lives and create new and meaningful relationships.
It said it was committed to tackling areas where services had fallen short and pledged to do more to improve services and management structures.
The Hiqa report comes at a time when there have been other critical findings in a review of child and family services recently completed by the HSE.
The Review of Adequacy for Child and Family Service 2011 shows that hundreds of children in different parts of the State are without allocated social workers or care plans.
This is a breach of the HSE’s statutory obligations aimed at ensuring all children in State care receive a minimum level of care and support. The review also warned that pressure was growing on child protection services, but there was no corresponding increase in resources.
While its findings relate to the end of 2011, latest official HSE figures show that there are still gaps in child protection services.