Tusla board ‘acutely aware’ of need for reform after Hiqa report

Board commit to improving consistency in service following critical assessment

The board said it “fully accepts the findings and recommendations” of the Hiqa report, following a meeting on Friday. Photograph: Alan Betson

The board said it “fully accepts the findings and recommendations” of the Hiqa report, following a meeting on Friday. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The board of the State child protection agency Tusla has said it is “acutely aware” of the need to address issues raised in a highly critical report by the health watchdog this week.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report found systems failures at Tusla had led to the mishandling of child sex abuse allegations, and were leaving vulnerable children at potential risk.

The board said it “fully accepts the findings and recommendations” of the Hiqa report, following a meeting on Friday.

The failings ranged from inadequate management oversight, to poor record-keeping and delays in responding to referrals of child sex abuse allegations. The failures resulted from a gap between Tusla’s policies and “what is actually happening on the ground”, the watchdog said.

In 10 cases, they directed Tusla to reopen files because of concerns about at-risk children. It “escalated” 65 cases about potential risks to children to regional managers within Tusla.

Investigators found three children, already considered to be at a significant risk and watched by Tusla, were not being adequately monitored.

In a statement, the board said it was “acutely aware of the need for the agency to continue to address these issues promptly”. It committed to do so as part of an “ongoing programme of reform”, a major part of which would be to “enhance consistency across the country,” in how the agency operated.

The board also said it would welcome further oversight and work with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, and her department, to “continuously improve the supports provided to vulnerable children and families”.

The year-long Hiqa investigation was started after it emerged a false allegation of child sex abuse against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe ended up in Tusla files in error, and that he was informed it was a mistake almost three years later.