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Children put at 'significant risk' in Cork by State services

Some children had been waiting four years for a social worker.

Image: child paint image via Shutterstock

THE CHILD AND Family Agency Tusla said an action plan is now in place at a child protection service in Cork after a report criticised it for putting children at “significant risk” with delays in allocating social workers.

The inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) found children who were deemed to have a high level of need and who were at risk did not have an allocated social worker or timely access to child protection and welfare institutions.

At the time of the inspection, 21 children in one office were waiting for a social worker to be allocated to them following their initial assessment.

This was concerning as these children had been determined by the duty social worker as having highly complex and acute needs, which was the highest threshold of need that could be applied.

Most children and families had been waiting since 2013 but some had been waiting since 2010.

Hiqa said the service “did not assess the impact of these delays on the safety and welfare of children”.

Commenting on the outcome of the report today, Tusla’s Director of Quality Assurance Brian Lee said the concerns forwarded to the service were “appropriately prioritised” and screened.

“Children assessed at immediate risk of harm were assessed as high priority and appropriately allocated a Social Worker and acted upon by staff,” he said.

Lee said his agency accepts that there are a number of areas which require improvement adding that an action plan was submitted in response to the report.

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It says all high risk cases have now been allocated a social worker and a principal social worker has been assigned to oversee management.

A national review of the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker is underway, as is recruitment for 193 vacant posts.

“Tusla remains committed to constantly improving our services to ensure the best outcomes for the children in our care.”

Read: ‘The impact on your sanity is incredible’: One social worker per week resigning>

Read: Here’s how many social worker vacancies there are nationwide>

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