Tusla losing 150 social workers a year, says SF TD

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire outlines details of two teenage deaths

Mr  Ó Laoghaire referred to the case of a 15-year-old boy who was living in an atmosphere of domestic violence and alcohol

Mr Ó Laoghaire referred to the case of a 15-year-old boy who was living in an atmosphere of domestic violence and alcohol

 

The child and family agency Tusla is losing 150 social workers a year, Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has told the Dáil.

He said the net increase in the number of social workers each year was a mere 26. “There are three times as many child and family social workers in the North per head of population as in the South.’’

Mr Ó Laoghaire said best practice internationally suggested social workers should have approximately 15 of a caseload, but he comes across those dealing with 26 and more. There were also 5,720 unallocated cases, which included 1,057 high priority cases.

Mr Ó Laoghaire referred to the case of a 15-year-old boy who was living in an atmosphere of domestic violence and alcohol. He had not been allocated a social worker because of staff shortages and took his own life.

He also referred to the case of a 17-year-old girl who died with a heavy level of toxicity in her system. A succession of social workers had not been involved for long enough to develop a relationship with the teenager, and a child-protection plan was not implemented.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government had set up a ministry with responsibility for children, held a referendum on children’s rights and established Tusla which was funded substantially by the taxpayer.

He said the recruitment of social workers required to provide individual attention was still under way. “There are more and more pieces of information coming to light on challenges for various families and children throughout the country, and social workers are under pressure to deal with the cases with which they have to deal.’’