The HSE is failing vulnerable young people. Photo: PA
Care Crisis

Serious shortcomings in quality of HSE foster care

Foster care services are “in a state of crisis” – placing hundreds of vulnerable young people in danger.

CHILDREN WHO ARE placed in foster care because of abuse, neglect, or the death of a guardian are being failed by the system, according to a recent investigation.

The independent health watchdog said that the Health Service Executive (HSE) was guilty of “significant and serious shortcomings” in the quality of care it has been providing for vulnerable young people.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) says that the foster care services in Dublin North West and Dublin North Central during 2009, the year examined, were “in a state of crisis.”

HIQA found that some children had not been visited by a social workers for several years, or did not have a social worker assigned to them.

Some children were not aware they were permitted to contact social workers or had a telephone number to do so.

Inspectors found that despite some cases of neglect or abuse being flagged by social workers – or by young people themselves – many were left in unsafe situations.

In one case a child who had run away from a foster home because of abusive treatment was actually returned to the home pending an investigation into the allegations.

Investigations showed that homes in Dublin North were generally safe and well-organised. Minister for Children Barry Andrews said that it was unacceptable that there should be such discrepancies in the quality of care within Dublin alone.

The report recommends that new standards be established by February 2011.

The HSE has said that of 75% of the children in Dublin North East have been allocated a social worker since last October 2009.