Irish children left on waiting list for months after reporting sexual assaults
Eurochild member Children’s Rights Alliance reacts to two inspection reports on child protection services in Ireland.
The Irish Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published two inspection reports on services provided by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla): child protection and welfare service in the Dublin Southwest Kildare West Wicklow area and its Separated Children Seeking International Protection service.
According to the reports there was a high number of children who did not have an allocated social worker. Resources were also not used effectively despite the increase in unaccompanied children arriving in Ireland from abroad. Many children and families had to wait for months before assessments of suspected abuse or welfare concerns could take place.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance stated: ¨[...] the chronic shortfall in resources and staff over a prolonged period of time has meant that the service is nowhere near where it needs to be to meet the demand in the area. We need to ensure that Budget 2024 provides Tusla with the resources to deal with the demand surge post Covid-19 and to be able to adequately fund the community and voluntary sector organisations to support children in the area.”
“There needs to be a greater degree of inter-agency and cross-departmental work to improve the provision of services and supports to these children and families. The Barnhaus Onehouse model piloted in Galway [...] brings together multiple agencies – child protection, medical, therapeutic and policing – and facilitates a child-centred approach to care and support. We need to see a commitment from Government to expand the Barnhaus model nationally to areas with high levels of need, such as Dublin Southwest, in Budget 2024,” concluded Tanya Ward.
According to the reports, other areas requiring improvement are:
- management of referrals, such as the lack of prioritisation
- poor oversight of unallocated children and reunification of children with parents or relatives
- timely access to support services
- children’s privacy, dignity and confidentiality being compromised