No cuts in services expected next year, says Tusla chief

Fred McBride says extra €38m funding will help make core services more sustainable

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is not anticipating any reduction in its services next year, a senior executive with the agency pledged when questioned about its funding allocation.

Tusla chief operations officer Fred McBride said he believed the extra €38 million provided by the Government for 2016 will allow the agency to offer a good service.

‘Sustainable footing’

“This additional €38 million can help us put our core services on a sustainable footing -we could always use more, but it’s a good start to putting us on a sustainable footing.”

Mr McBride made his comments almost 12 months after Tusla chief executive Gordon Jeyes said an extra €45 million would be needed in 2015 just to keep services at a standstill.


Speaking in Cork where he addressed the 5th National Child Protection and Welfare Social Work Conference, Mr McBride said he believed the agency can maintain services next year.

“We’re not anticipating any service reductions in 2016, unless of course, there are services out there which we think are not properly aligned to strategic priorities,” he said.

“In that case, some of those services may need to be re-commissioned - there are some services which are much more focused on adult and adult relationships than are on children.

“We just have to examine whether they are having an impact on children or not - and sometimes those organisations are funded simply as a matter of history,” he added.

Gathering data

Mr McBride said Tusla is currently gathering data on its €96 million spend in the community and voluntary sector which will allow it greater visibility on how the money is spent.

“We haven’t had sufficient visibility on exactly what has been spent and, more importantly, on how effective it has been in terms of improving outcomes for children,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Government allocated total funding of €676 million for 2016, with Tusla chairperson Norah Gibbons saying the funding would allow the agency to address deficits in services.

“The budget of €676 million for 2016 will allow Tusla to address critical shortcomings such as the number of children and families awaiting services,” said Ms Gibbons in a statement.

Meanwhile, Mr McBride,who gave a paper at the Cork conference entitled From Welfare to Wellbeing and Resilience, acknowledged there was room for improvement in services.

Recruitment review

He said Tusla was currently reviewing its centralised recruitment practices to allow local management to become more responsive and to recruit the expert social work staff they want.

He said Tusla was carrying out an audit of its range of policies, and conceded he understood why many social workers felt the agency had too many policies.

“I think they are absolutely correct - I think there are far too many bits of information that we issued in the system that we call policies and that are set in stone,” he said.

“I certainly think we need to reduce the number of policies which are mandatory and maximise professional expertise and allow more scope for professional discretion.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times