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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019

Convicted offenders in Donegal are not being monitored properly

A Hiqa inspection has found serious failings in child welfare services in the county.

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MONITORING OF CONVICTED offenders is inadequate in Donegal because early warning systems are not strong according to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

A HIQA inspection of child protection and welfare services in the county has found that management struggled to manage the risk to children because of low staffing levels.

The report said that there was good cooperation between the Child and Family Agency and gardaí but that the Child Protection Notification System (CPNS) was not available to gardaí on a 24-hour basis.

Hiqa found that “immediate risks to children” may not have been uncovered because of these issues:

Although efforts were made to identify, assess and manage risks posed by alleged or convicted offenders in the community, early warning systems to identify organised abuse were not robust enough. Delayed risk assessments meant that immediate risks to children may not have been identified and managed by the service.

Adults who potentially posed a risk to children were allocated a social worker so they could be monitored. Meetings on this were held with gardaí but the report says that this process needed to be developed more.

“One case showed that an assessment of one convicted offender was delayed for six months,” the report says.

Hiqa outlined that 15 children deemed to be at risk had no allocated social worker and weren’t visited regularly enough by one. This had reduced to nine by the time the inspection took place.  

Four of these children at risk of significant and ongoing harm were not visited for up to five months prior to the inspection.

Waiting lists for allocation to a social worker was also deemed to be ineffective according to the report.

After reviewing the report, the Child and Family Agency has established a plan to deal with these deficiencies.

The report can be viewed in full here >

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Rónán Duffy

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