Fred McBride, Chief Executive of TUSLA pictured at the TUSLA National Workshop for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support, (PPFS) at Hotel Kilkenny
Key professionals who will have a mandatory requirement to report any child protection concerns they have to the child agency Tusla from December 11 have received a very powerful warning.
Chief Executive of Tusla, the child and family agency, Fred McBride, said that teachers, gardai, foster carers and others working with children had to provide Tusla with the fullest information possible from that date in order for Tusla to investigate each case.
He said they would not get away with just a simple referral and in a sporting reference said they could not simply make the report and walk off the field of play.
He stressed that Tusla was not asking these professionals to do the investigation for Tulsa but cautioned that a simple referral and no-follow up from them would not work and that more was required of them to protect vulnerable children.
He recognised that there were constraints on what they could tell Tusla.
He made the remarks at the National Workshop for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support in Hotel Kilkenny this week.
Tusla personnel and Mr McBride has noted an icrease in poverty over the last 12 months, making their job even more difficult.
He said the equality gap in Ireland was widening and that there were increasing problems with the mental health of young people.
He said the homelessness crisis and the impact it had on children was worsening and in that context he said it was no wonder that referrals to Tusla were up 15% year-on-year.
He told the 300 delegates present at the two day event in Kilkenny city that they shouldn't allow the level of scrutiny that Tusla is presently under to 'get to them.'
He added that staff shouldn't allow all the negative media attention blow the off course.
He said it cost Tusla €5,000 a week, or €250,000 a year, to keep a child in care and envisaged the number of children being taken into care shrinking through the early intervention programme.
Detailing Tulsa's roll-out of a more inclusive, child centred service, Mr McBride said they were aiming at eliminating duplication of reporting; better quality and more appropriate referrals as well as fewer assessments and less repetition.