Gardaí investigating care provider that ‘fabricated’ pre-employment staff checks

Calls for review into Tusla’s reliance on private companies to accommodate children in care

A Garda investigation is under way into a company that provided emergency accommodation for vulnerable children in State care, which Tusla found had “fabricated” pre-employment screenings of staff and altered vetting files.

Ideal Care Services, one of the largest providers of unregulated accommodation for children in care in recent years, was referred to the Garda on foot of the concerns. Tusla, the child and family agency, found the company had “fabricated” checks of references provided by staff over a two-year period, posing a major risk to young people in its care.

Ideal Care had been a significant provider of “special emergency arrangements”, where young people taken into care are housed in rental properties or bed and breakfasts run by care staff from private companies, due a shortage of regulated group care homes and foster carers.

The Irish Times reported on Wednesday that Tusla had ceased placing children with the company, following a damning internal report. The report, completed last July, stated the standard of checks carried out on people seeking to work for the company was “grossly inadequate”.


Staff were also let work with children without up-to-date Garda vetting clearance, which the report said was “unlawful”.

Speaking in the Dáil, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said the Government had been informed that gardaí were investigating the company.

Tusla had “immediately ceased” using the company’s services and had notified other State bodies of its concerns about the provider, he said. A spokesman for Tusla said the agency could not comment on the details of the referral to the Garda.

Ideal Care received nearly €9 million in payments from Tusla over 2022 and 2023, as one of the largest providers of special emergency arrangements.

Figures show the Health Service Executive (HSE) also had contracts with the company to provide services in recent years. Ideal Care was paid more than €300,000 by the HSE over 2022 and 2021.

The company is contracted to provide “some limited home support services” in the HSE area covering north Dublin, a spokesman said. The local HSE area “does not have a contract with Ideal Care for residential services, respite services or any model of unscheduled care accommodation,” he said.

Ideal Care has not responded to requests for comment on Tusla’s criticism of its screening and vetting standards.

More than 180 children and young people in Tusla’s care are currently in special emergency arrangements.

Kathleen Funchion, chair of the Oireachtas children’s committee, said she planned to push for politicians to investigate the State’s reliance on these emergency arrangements. The Sinn Féin TD said the increasing dependence on private providers to run accommodation for children in care was “really concerning”.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín called for an independent review into the emergency arrangements, following the revelations about Ideal Care.

Marissa Ryan, chief executive of Epic, an organisation which advocates for children in care, said “urgent” action was required from the Government to ensure vulnerable children were no longer left in the “extremely precarious care arrangements”.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times