Press Release: Overview of children’s care services exposes discrepancies in quality and experience for Ireland’s young people

Published date: 
4 Jun 2020


Overview of children’s care services exposes discrepancies in quality and experience for Ireland’s young people

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) publishes an overview of its inspection and monitoring of children’s services during 2019. A total of 51 inspections were carried out.

Speaking on the key findings of the report, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said, “Children and young people are the best source of information when it comes to their experience and interaction with support and care services. These reports give us an insight into the quality of these services from the view of the individual they are designed and intended to support. It is great to hear that children engage with these reviews and many feel they are aware of their rights and are encouraged to use them. What is also evident from this overview is the pivotal role and significant impact key support workers play in the care of children. Young people described the positive impact aftercare workers had in their lives, supporting them with independent living skills and education. Similarly, children in foster care that were allocated a social worker reported positively about the quality of their experience with the service. However, given that there is inconsistency in the provision of these key workers, it is no surprise that many children have a vastly different experience.”

Key Findings

In Centre Based Care Services:

  • Children described how they were supported and listened to
  • Some children commented on the impact of changes to their social worker, which they found unsettling.
  • Young people described how aftercare workers supported them with independent living skills, housing, education and the significant positive impact this support had on their lives

In Child Protection and Welfare Services:

  • Risk-based inspections found that children and their families experienced variance in the quality and timeliness of the services they received, resulting in delays in screening, preliminary enquiries and initial assessments.
  • There are extensive demands across some service areas for children to receive initial assessments of their protection and welfare, with lengthy waiting lists in place in the areas where risk-based inspections were carried out.
  • The inspections found that there was no national approach being taken by Tusla to manage waiting lists for children and families awaiting a service from Tusla

In Foster Care Settings:

  • Foster care inspections found that when children were allocated a social worker, they received a good quality service, and children spoke very positively about their social worker.
  • Some areas had significantly high numbers of children in care that did not have a social worker and, as a result, these children were not receiving a good quality service.
  • There were backlogs of child-in-care reviews and a high number of care plans that were not up to date.
  • The quality of care plans also varied and placement plans were not routinely completed in some areas

Tanya Ward continued, “There are still challenges for children and their families that could snowball without necessary and timely supports. These children, families and carers can be in very vulnerable positions. The delay in initial assessments of their protection and welfare it something that needs to be addressed. Child protection and welfare cannot and should not wait.”

Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 01-662 9400 / 0879971410, Email:

Notes to Editor:
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
The full HIQA Overview is available 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: or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.
• The Children’s Rights Alliance Helpline is open three days a week, Mondays 10am to 2pm, Wednesdays 2pm to 7pm and Friday 10am to 12 noon. If you have are looking for legal information or advice, please contact us on 01 902 0494 or email