Report criticises foster care services in Mayo
Emergency action ordered by Hiqa inspectors to ensure safety of number of children
Sixteen concerns were raised about the welfare and protection of children in Mayo, relating to eight foster care families, over the previous 12 months, according to a Hiqa report published today.
A report has revealed that emergency action was taken to ensure the safety of children in foster care in Mayo.
Not all children in foster care were safeguarded and protected from potential harm, Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) inspectors found.
As a result, the authority issued an immediate action plan requiring the local health area to review a number of children’s cases to ensure they were not a risk of ongoing harm.
Hiqa said this action is an “exceptional regulatory activity” used when inspection findings show an immediate risk to the welfare of children. It said the principal social workers acknowledged the service was not meeting all it statutory responsibilities but managers were taking steps to address this.
Sixteen concerns were raised about the welfare and protection of children, relating to eight foster care families, over the previous 12 months, according to the report published today. Foster carers told inspectors there was little response to requests for assistance or concerns raised on behalf of children in other care placements.
Inspectors concluded that that for a small number of children, there was a delay in responding to early warning signs of possible abuse and that some protective measures were inadequate. “As a result, some children experienced unsafe
placements for a significant period of time.”
Overall, the report found that only five out of 27 care standards were being met. Howver, it said the foster care service being provided improved outcomes for many children. Many, though not all, children were in stable placements where their self-confidence was boosted. The majority of parents believed their children were well cared for.
“However, children’s rights were not always respected. Children did not fully understand what their rights were and some did not feel consulted and included in decisions about their future. Children’s complaints were not addressed in a child-centred manner.”
About one-third of the children placed in foster care did not have a timely child-in-care review, the report said. The majority of children were living with foster carers who valued, accepted and supported them but “this not the experience of all children”. Foster carers did not receive training and were not reviewed regularly to ensure they continued to provide high quality care.
Inspectors found that there was a tendency for placements to drift from short to long-term placements without specific planning. For some placements, matching was poor.
While psychological services and art therapy were available, there were long waiting lists. One child was on a waiting list since 2009 and his/her foster carer had paid privately for a service for two years.
At the time of the inspection, there were 123 children living in foster care, being cared for by 81 foster carers and 26 relative foster carers in 107 households.
A separate report on care services in Waterford found 397 children were still waiting on initial assessments and 31 children were waiting for further assessments.