Major child protection non-compliance in Cork foster care services

The service area had no system to ensure children were not placed with foster carers who had open allegations against them

Cork foster service had  no system in place to ensure children were not placed with foster carers who had open allegations made against them, Hiqa found

Cork foster service had no system in place to ensure children were not placed with foster carers who had open allegations made against them, Hiqa found

 

An inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has found major and recurring problems with the ability of Tusla foster services in Cork to properly protect children.

The inspection report by Hiqa was critical that the service area had no system in place to ensure children were not placed with foster carers who had open allegations made against them.

The report, published on Tuesday, found a failure of the State’s child and family agency , Tusla, to comply with its own standards, including a failure to investigate relatives before placing a child with them.

In five out of ten cases reviewed by Hiqa inspectors, there was no recorded home visit by foster care services to relatives’ homes before children were fostered there.

The report concluded “as a result, there was no oversight by the fostering department of these families in order to safeguard the children placed”.

In one case, a safeguarding visit to a child placed with relatives did not take place for ten months.

Inspectors also found two cases involving children, placed into relatives care, where the foster care team “was not aware of these placements, or how long those children were placed” there.

Vetting

The review found 87 foster carers did not have up-to-date garda vetting, and 27 relatives acting as foster carers were not garda vetted at all.

The inspection report said a new system for tracking the garda vetting of foster carers set up in the Cork area “was not accurate, reliable or up to date”.

Some 159 foster carers in the service area had not been reviewed by a social worker within the required timeframe of three years. And 42 relative foster carers had not been allocated a link social worker to provide support services.

The inspection was a follow-up from an earlier review of the Tusla Cork foster care services Hiqa carried out in February 2017, which found major non-compliance in five out of eight areas.

A statement from Hiqa on the inspection report said the “findings were similar to those found on the previous inspection, and therefore continued to pose a risk to children placed with the service”.

“Actions which were to be immediately implemented in order to reduce the risks had not been implemented in a timely manner.”

Cork East Labour Party TD Sean Sherlock said “it is simply not good enough that in the nine months since the previous inspection was carried out, major non-compliance issues were identified.”

Mr Sherlock added he was concerned “that some of the urgent actions needed to be taken, did not happen quick enough” following the previous Hiqa review of Cork foster services.