Hiqa foster care report finds major failings in child protection in Donegal

Mechanisms of oversight and monitoring of preliminary checks were not adequate

Some 82 per cent of foster carers in Donegal did not have a foster care review completed to show their capacity to provide good quality care to children. File photograph: Getty Images

Some 82 per cent of foster carers in Donegal did not have a foster care review completed to show their capacity to provide good quality care to children. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Major failings in child protection in Donegal have been identified by a Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report into foster care services operated by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The report identifies major non-compliance with three of the eight standards against which performance was measured – safeguarding and child protection, assessment and approval of relative foster carers and reviews of foster carers.

The Donegal foster-care service had a total of 132 foster care households, with 111 general foster care households and 21 foster care households with relatives.

The inspection report, published by Hiqa on Tuesday into foster care services in Donegal, found there was good practice in the area of allocating social workers. Assessments of prospective foster carers in Donegal were comprehensive, detailed and of good quality; however, they were not always timely.

It noted that mechanisms of oversight and monitoring of preliminary checks were not adequate, as not all the preliminary checks had been completed as required by regulations where children were placed in an emergency foster care.

It said there was a lack of oversight of the implementation of risk management plans which had been developed in response to risks identified within placements.

Not all adults who had significant contact with children in placements had the necessary Garda vetting.

Foster care review

It also found 82 per cent of foster carers in Donegal did not have a foster care review completed to show their capacity to provide good quality care to children.

Tusla’s service director for the West Region, Dr Aisling Gillen, said while the report found non-compliance in a number of areas including Garda vetting, she had received assurances steps were being taken to clear backlogs in these areas.

Dr Gillen said Hiqa highlighted that “there were examples of very good practice in Donegal” and had acknowledged Tusla’s work in addressing areas of concern.

Responding to the report, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) said it will seek clarification from Tusla and the Minister for Children on how recommended changes to practices and procedures in foster care services are being implemented.

ISPCC Director of Policy Cliodhna O’Neill said foster care is the backbone of the care system in Ireland with over 6,100 children are in foster care.

“In order to best protect the welfare of children, particularly those who may be vulnerable, it is essential that foster care services are effectively resourced and that carers are Garda vetted and provided with best-quality supervision and support to ensure they can continue to provide safe care to children who require it.”