QUESTION NO: 144
DÁIL QUESTION 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 his Department continues to detect and monitor potential situations of child abuse of a sexual, physical or psychological nature; if he remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the provisions currently in place to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Bernard J. Durkan T.D.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency holds the statutory responsibility for child welfare and protection, and is the appropriate body to receive reports of concerns relating to children at risk. Where there are reasonable grounds for concern for a child’s welfare and protection, Tusla should always be informed. This has been Tusla’s responsibility since its establishment in January 2014.
As part of governance arrangements, Tusla provides my Department with regular performance activity reports for monitoring purposes. These include figures showing the number of referrals which are disaggregated by welfare concerns and abuse concerns. The most recent validated figures for referrals to hand are up to the end Quarter 4 of 2014. Tusla has stated that, subject to validation, the total number of referrals for 2014 shows that there were 43,200 reports of child protection and welfare concerns received by Tusla.
The most recent figures for child welfare concerns and child abuse concerns highlight that Child Welfare and Protection Services received a total of 10,492 referrals during Quarter 4 2014. For the period in question, 6,063 (58%) were child welfare concerns and 4,429 (42%) were child abuse concerns.
In addition to the rigorous governance arrangements within Tusla, my Department also reviews the findings of a number of independent bodies including: the Health Information and Quality Authority inspection reports, reports on child deaths and serious incidents from the independently chaired National Review Panel and reports from the Ombudsman for Children. My Department also maintains contact with non-governmental bodies on issues within the sector, including, for example, the Children’s Rights Alliance, and the Irish Foster Care Association. This is in addition to the day to day monitoring of children who may be at risk or children in care that is carried out by Tusla as part of its responsibilities under the Child Care Act 1991, as amended, and the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013.