We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Children’s services across Louth-Meath deemed ‘non-compliant’ in four of six assessed standards

HIQA inspectors were told that the ‘chronic’ staff shortages in relation to team leaders had an impact on the frequency and quality of case supervision.

CHILD PROTECTION AND welfare services operated by Tusla across the Louth and Meath are have been deemed to be “non-compliant” across four of the six areas assessed.

HIQA today published its report on services provided by Tusla in the Louth Meath service area to protect children and promote their welfare.

The Health Information and Quality Authority monitors services used by some of the most vulnerable children in the state.

HIQA carried out the “focused” inspection across three days this year, from 25-27 April.

It has warned that the Louth Meath service area needs to “improve and strengthen governance arrangements in order to provide a consistent safe service to all children listed on the child protection notification system (CNPS)”.

At the time of the inspection, there were 29 children listed as active on the CPNS.

47 children had been removed from the CPNS in the 12 months prior to the April inspection.

HIQA found that there was a “major capacity issue in staffing resources” and that “children on the CPNS had not been prioritised sufficiently”.

Three of the 29 children listed on the CPNS did not have an allocated social worker, and two of these children had remained unallocated for a period of two months.

The inspectors were told that staffing shortages and the increase in competing demands, particularly relating to court work and court attendance, meant that home visits had not occurred as required or as laid out in the child protection safety plan.

Inspectors were also told that staffing issues meant “60-70% of social worker’s work was taken up by filling the role of five vacant team leader posts”.

The area manager told inspectors that the “chronic” staff shortages in relation to team leaders had an impact on the frequency and quality of case supervision.

And while there were risk management systems in place, the inspectors deemed that the system was “not effective in the reduction of prolonged and persistent risks to the service”.

For example, the inspectors noted that some risks were “listed on the area risk register for five years”.

Risks included high levels of staff vacancies and the high number of unallocated cases in the area.

However, risks relating directly to children listed on the CPNS, such as infrequent home visits, were not identified.

The inspectors did praise however the level of “interagency and inter-professional cooperation and supports within the service”.

HIQA said that “strategy meetings were occurring for cases as required and it was clear that there was a good level of communication and consultation within the service”.

The inspectors also found that “child protection conferences were well planned and inclusive of all participating family members”.


Inspectors spoke to three children about their experiences of the service, with one child saying their social worker “is really good with everyone”.

Two other children said they felt listened to and that what they said was taken on board.

The inspectors also spoke to five parents, whose experiences were more mixed.

All parents spoke positively about home visits from social workers but one parent said that their social worker changed a lot, which was “difficult for the children”.

Another said that when their social worker went on leave, home visits stopped and it was difficult to get a response from Tusla about alternative arrangements.

Action plan

In order to address staff shortages, the Louth Meath service area has advertised globally and targeted initiatives in the Philippines and Zimbabwe are underway.

Four new graduates will also commence employment over the coming months following a successful graduate campaign.

And while the area doesn’t have enough Team Leaders to meet their service requirements, current vacant posts have been prioritised and an interim system has been established.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel