Foster care services in some areas not in line ‘with best practice’

Hiqa report on Kerry found ‘no system to ensure Garda vetting renewed for foster carers’

A Hiqa report has cited “major non-compliance” with standards in the areas of child protection and assessment of foster carers who are relatives of children concerned. File photograph: iStockPhoto

A Hiqa report has cited “major non-compliance” with standards in the areas of child protection and assessment of foster carers who are relatives of children concerned. File photograph: iStockPhoto

 

Health watchdog inspectors have found 40 per cent of Co Kerry foster carers had not been reviewed by the State’s child and family agency in over three years.

Inspections by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) into foster care services in Kerry, Galway and Roscommon found half of standards were not compliant with best practice.

The report into regional foster care services in Kerry found there was “no system to ensure that Garda vetting was renewed for foster carers”.

The Hiqa report, published on Tuesday, said in 15 cases children were placed in foster care carried out by relatives without those carers being assessed by the State. Tusla, the State child and family protection agency, is responsible for foster care services.

‘Major non-compliance’

The Hiqa report cited “major non-compliance” with standards in the areas of child protection and assessment of foster carers who are relatives of children concerned. There was a lack of managerial oversight in the placement of children into foster care undertaken by relatives.

The report was critical of Kerry foster care services, where young adults had turned 16 in foster households with other children but had not undergone Garda vetting.

Another Hiqa review of foster care services in the Galway and Roscommon areas found “moderate non-compliance” in four out of eight standards. Across the care placements, one-quarter of foster carers had not been reviewed in more than three years, as is required.

“Two foster carers had been approved despite there being no vetting evident on their files,” the review found.

The Hiqa report outlined “the regularity of visits to foster carers was inconsistent and in some cases was minimal” across the Galway and Roscommon area.

The report also stated allegations made against foster carers were not always followed up with subsequent inspections of the carers in the region.

Dermot Halpin, service director at Tusla, said the “areas identified for improvement in both reports are being actively progressed through comprehensive action plans”.

Up-to-date vetting

Mr Halpin said Tusla has requested up-to-date Garda vetting be completed for all foster carers in Kerry, Galway and Roscommon, in response to Hiqa’s findings.

Mr Halpin said the inspection reports also highlighted areas of good practice. He said 100 per cent of foster carers in Kerry received training before their approval as carers, and were all allocated a link social worker to assist them.

Fianna Fáil spokeswoman for children Anne Rabbitte described the Hiqa reports as “extremely worrying”.

“These reports looked at specific services in the foster care area, but worryingly, these services were found to be lacking and non-compliant with best practice in half of the areas examined,” she said.