Kerry foster care was ‘not consistently safe and effective’ – Hiqa report

Agency notes ‘satisfactory response’ after urgent compliance plan issued in area

Major non-compliance in supervision and support of foster carers for children was found in Kerry last October by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), according to an inspection report published on Tuesday.

The report, on the Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla’s) foster care services in the Kerry service area, found “poor quality and infrequent supervisory visits meant that the service provided was not consistently safe and effective for children in care. As a result, an urgent compliance plan was issued to the area and a satisfactory response was received.”

Of the six standards assessed, it found that “one was major non-compliant, one was moderate non-compliant, two were substantially compliant, and two were compliant.”

The Kerry service area “had reduced the level of risk, and while not achieving full compliance in all standards assessed, had moved to improved levels of compliance,” it said.

In general “children reported positive experiences of foster care and the social work department, and progress had been made to ensure that each child in care had a dedicated social worker,” the report said.

“Despite this, some children experienced multiple changes in social worker, which they found challenging. Staff vacancies and movement prior to and up to the time of the inspection was a significant factor in limiting the service’s ability to progress improvements and the quality of the service,” it said.

Hiqa’s inspection of the Kerry foster care service in October 2021 assessed progress made in the area to address risks identified in previous Hiqa inspections.

The agency is authorised to inspect foster care services provided by Tusla and to report on its findings to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. It can also inspect services taking care of a child on behalf of Tusla, which includes non-statutory providers of foster care. It monitors foster care services against the 2003 National Standards for Foster Care.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times