Update: Child Support Services, 4th August 2015

4th August 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD

QUESTION NOS:  140 & 145

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 08/07/2015  

 *  To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which he continues to monitor the adequacy of child support services where specific issues have already been brought to the attention of the relevant section of his Department; if ongoing assessment of the need is being undertaken with a view to providing the best possible services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

                                                                          – Bernard J. Durkan

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 8th July, 2015.

*  To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which his Department continues to monitor the welfare of children in the various forms of State care; if he continues to be satisfied that adequate safety measures remain in place to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

                                                                          – Bernard J. Durkan

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 8th July, 2015.

My Department receives regular reports from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency on progress during the year, including detailed reporting on key performance and activity indicators of service provision, including children in care.  Officials also meet Tusla management as needed as well as regular meetings on a monthly and quarterly basis.  Tusla has internal mechanisms for quality assurance of its services, in addition to the regulatory monitoring requirements, which include regular visits by a social worker to children in care.  My officials use information provided by Tusla to monitor the current status of service provision and the effect as reforms to services take effect.  Activity indicators allow for attention to be focussed on areas where further improvement is required.  In addition to regular reports, Tusla also provides occasional or special topic reports, as needed, which can then be used for budget and resource planning.  For example, Tusla is preparing a national review of cases waiting the allocation of a social worker which will inform plans for social worker recruitment and deployment in the short to medium term.  

In  addition to the reporting arrangements with Tusla, my Department also reviews the findings of a number of independent bodies, which are made available in the inspection reports from the Health Information and Quality Authority, reports on child deaths and serious incidents from the independently chaired National Review Panel, and reports from the Ombudsman for Children.  Contact is maintained with the non-governmental bodies on issues within the sector, including, for example, the Children’s Rights Alliance, EPIC and the Irish Foster Care Association.  My Department chairs an Inter Departmental Group on the implementation of Children First.  This group works to ensure that all bodies working with children, including those with particular vulnerabilities, are aware of their responsibilities with regard to the welfare and protection of children and are provided with the necessary training and guidance to support them in this work.  The information gained from these various avenues relates not just to deficits in the child welfare and protection service but, equally, to good practice and positive outcomes.  This information informs the interactions my Department has with Tusla on the quality and performance of the services to vulnerable children.

It is also the case that Tusla would inform my Department of specific issues where risks are identified and to ensure that effective management responses are put in place.  This recently occurred when Tusla informed  me of issues that had arisen in the Midlands and Louth/Meath administrative areas.  I was briefed early by Tusla on actions to rectify these issues.  I am happy to say from briefings provided to me by Tusla management that the response has been positive and that they are delivering on the action plans.  At the end of the work in these administrative areas, there will be improved services and, also, a tried and tested model for short term and rapid improvements should this be needed in the future.  

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