Good care by social workers in some cases, report finds


GOOD PRACTICE:WHILE THE Independent Child Death Review Group points to a litany of failures surrounding many of the 196 cases it reviewed, the report also points to cases where social workers, foster families and social work departments engaged in good practice in relation to the children in their care.

One example is that of a 16-year-old who died in HSE care in 2009. The report found that the young man, who had been known to the HSE from an early age but who was first taken into care three years before his death, had “one consistent social worker throughout his time in care”. It found the social worker appeared to have built “an extremely good relationship with him and worked very hard to help him”.

Of the 36 cases of children and young people who were in HSE care at the time of their deaths, including cases where the death was as a result of natural causes, 10 files showed evidence of good and/or consistent care by the social work department; eight contained evidence of supervision and/or support of social workers; and there were three cases where “very good foster” care was found to have been provided. In reviewing 32 cases of young people who died while in the aftercare of the HSE, the review group pointed to 10 cases where there was evidence of good and/or consistent care by the social work department; six cases where there was evidence of appropriate support and placement of the young person; and four cases where there was evidence of good foster care provision.

It found that in 17 of 128 cases where children and young people were known to the HSE, its social work department had reacted quickly and appropriately to concerns about families and maintained contact despite evasiveness by parents at times.

In one case, a social worker followed up concerns that had arisen in another jurisdiction. It also cited cases where a child was returned to the care of his/her parents with appropriate supports built in and where safe access was organised. It noted two cases where there was a lack of appropriate accommodation where social work teams had “constantly sought to address the situation”.

It cited 28 cases where clear support was given to families including help with depression, accommodation, addiction, finances and the provision of home help, parenting courses and after-school help.

However, in the executive summary of the report the authors note that “while good practice was adhered to in some cases, the fact remains that its application was sporadic and inconsistent”.