Hiqa inspectors criticise foster care services

Reports find children in care not allocated social workers and foster carers not vetted

The 2011 Children First guidelines were not implemented in full and the social work service was under-resourced, according to a Hiqa report on services in Wexford/Waterford and Dun Laoghaire.

The 2011 Children First guidelines were not implemented in full and the social work service was under-resourced, according to a Hiqa report on services in Wexford/Waterford and Dun Laoghaire.

 

The Health Information and Quality Authority has published two reports which are critical of HSE foster care services in Wexford and Dun Laoghaire.

An inspection of foster care services in Wexford found that three Hiqa standards were not being met, while 19 were being met in part. Just two standards were met in full.

In Dublin South/Dun Laoghaire, four standards were not being met and 16 were being met in part.

Some 24 children in care were without an allocated social worker at the time of inspection, according to the Wexford report. Procedures for the recruitment of foster carers, including adherence to timeframes for assessment and the undertaking of Garda vetting and child protection checks, need to be improved, the report recommends.

While the outcomes for children in care were positive in general, there were also “deficits” affecting their placements. Children were not always fully informed in writing of their rights and the report notes a lack of culturally appropriate placements to meet the needs of children from different backgrounds.

The 2011 Children First guidelines were not implemented in full and the social work service was under-resourced.

In Dublin South/Dun Laoghaire, over one-third of the children did not have an allocated social worker, which impacted on the quality of relationship between the child and the social worker, inspectors found.

Budgetary cutbacks had impacted on services for children with disabilities and the source of funding for these children after their 18th birthday was not clear. There were a significant number of vacant posts on the children in care team, and children experienced frequent changes of social worker.

General foster carers were assessed before children were placed with them, but the vast majority were approved to provide short-term care and a matching process for long-term placements did not take place. Fourteen children were living with relatives who had not been formally assessed or approved by the foster care committee.