Over 250 cases of children awaiting a social worker allocation in Kilkenny, Carlow and South Tipperary

HIQA report found some children waiting “sometimes for over a year”

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

65 complaints from Kildare children

File photo

There were 255 cases where children in Kilkenny, Carlow and South Tipperary were awaiting allocation to a social worker according to the latest figures as of November 2017.

Social Democrats TD, Róisín Shortall, asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for the number of cases awaiting allocation to a social worker in each Tusla local office area.

The revelations come after a Health Information and Quality Authority inspection report for child protection and welfare services in Kilkenny, Carlow, and South Tipperary found major non-compliances.

The report also found children, who were given a high priority level, were likely to be allocated a social worker for assessment.

However children, who were given a medium or low priority level, were often placed on a waiting list for initial assessment, “sometimes for over a year”.

Some children and families who received a service after being on a waiting list, were not provided with the right service at the right time.

In a written response to Deputy Shortall, Minister Katherine Zappone said that addressing the number of children who are awaiting the allocation of a social worker is one of her key priorities.

She said: “I secured funds in Budget 2018 which will allow Tusla to carry out the third year of a 3 year plan to provide for the allocation of a dedicated social worker to all children who need one.”

An unallocated case relates to a case about a child who is deemed to need a social work assessment, but has not yet been allocated to a social worker.

Minister Zappone added: “All urgent and emergency cases receive immediate attention by the local duty social work team.

“The majority of unallocated cases are new referrals, however they may also include children living with their families who had an allocated social worker, or to a child in care, where there is now a social work vacancy.

“I am informed by Tusla that a case awaiting allocation may be listed as ‘active on duty’.

“Tusla indicate that this may include checking with professionals who see the child regularly, or visiting the child and family at home, getting additional information about the child’s situation and, in some instances where a child is in care, organising a Care Plan Review and visiting the child.”

Information about unallocated cases is published monthly on the Tusla website and the Minister said that the most up to date data available is for November 2017.

There were 24,445 open cases nationally at the end of November. Of these, 4,760 were awaiting allocation of a social worker.