Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Children’s Rights Alliance – Government & Tusla Must Act on HIQA Child Abuse Report
The Children’s Rights Alliance has responded to the publication today (19.06.2018) by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of a report of the investigation into the management of allegations of child sexual abuse against adults of concern by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) upon the direction of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
Commenting on the launch of HIQA’s investigation, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said today: “This investigation provides a real marker in the sand when it comes to understanding how child protection and welfare services are meeting the needs of children at risk. HIQA acknowledges considerable reforms that Tusla, a relatively young agency, has put in place to consolidate its services. It also points out that it found no situation where children at immediate risk were failed by Tusla and found many examples of good practice.
However, it also found that national reforms did not always filter down to social worker offices around the country, with the effect that not all children were provided with the same service. This geographical lottery has led to inconsistencies around the screening and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse with meant that some children may be exposed to risk. It also meant that safety plans, which are designed to ensure that children are protected from risks, were not standardised for children who were not on the National Child Protection Notification System. Despite the fact that HIQA met many dedicated social workers within Tusla it found that there was poor managerial oversight at regional and local level, which is of concern.
While HIQA did record examples of good practice in managing retrospective allegations of child sex abuse, in particular, the establishment of Sexual Abuse Regional Teams (SART) in Dublin had resulted in a good and responsive service, in other parts of the country Tusla’s policy on responding to retrospective allegations was not consistently applied. Some child protection cases remained open and unresolved while Tusla was waiting for the Gardaí to finish its own work, despite Tusla having the statutory duty to keep children safe. However, it must be pointed out that when Tusla is investigating adults of concern it doesn’t have the same powers as the Gardaí and this can mean that their investigations can be frustrated and children may potentially be left exposed to child protection risks.
Tanya Ward concluded: “Tusla was established in 2014 when Ireland was coming out of a recession with no lead-in time and without sufficient resources. In 2018, while Tusla has put considerable national policies and structures in place, now the focus must move to the frontline to ensure that all children get access to a consistent child protection and welfare system. No child should be put at risk because of a systems or oversight failure.
What is special about today’s report is that it provides a roadmap containing real solutions to improve child protection. We welcome the clear statement and commitment by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla to implement the HIQA recommendations as a matter of urgency. It is vital that an action plan is now put in place and published so these recommendations can become a reality and that public confidence in our child protection system is restored. We are also calling for this report to be debated by both Houses of the Oireachtas.”
Contact: Emma McKinley, Tel: 087 6559067 / 01-6629400, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
- Tanya Ward is available for interview and/or comment.
- Tanya Ward was a member of the External Advisory Group of HIQA's Investigation Team.
- HIQA’s Report can be found here
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL