A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found that a child in the North Dublin foster care service area had not been visited by a social worker for more than three years.
Information provided to HIQA inspectors during an inspection revealed that at least 63 children were overdue at a statutory visit, and there were four more cases where it was unclear whether they had an up-to-date visit.
Almost all of these cases are with one office, the report said.
During the inspection, seven cases were sent to the managers as visits were pending for a long time at that time.
The report, published on Thursday, also found that the governance and management systems in place at the time of the inspection did not ensure that children were visited in accordance with the legal requirements set forth in the Child Care Regulations.
The lack of meeting with children at the time of the inspection led to concerns about safety practices for children in foster care, the report said.
It said that regular statutory visits of children in care are a basic measure to ensure good protection.
HIQA also said it provides an “important opportunity” for children to talk about any issues they may have in their placement or otherwise, as well as an opportunity for social workers to identify and deal with any concerns. provides.
Data provided by the service prior to the inspection showed that 422 children were in foster care, 277 were placed in general foster care and 145 were placed in relative foster care.
According to this data there were 287 foster care families managed by the service sector.
HIQA also said that through a review of the files it became clear that there were critical times where children in care were not seen to conform to statutory requirements.
As a result, inspectors looked through the files of 20 children to review the frequency and quality of statutory visits.
The frequency of statutory visits for children to their foster homes is set out in regulations and depends on how long the child has been in their place.
Children’s travel to their homes was restricted during COVID-19 and social workers relied on phone and video calls to contact the children.
However, the Covid-19 restrictions did not account for the lag in statutory visits found by inspectors on the files reviewed.
HIQA said inspectors were assured that these children would be treated as a priority.
While most supervision and support visits to foster caregivers were of good quality, systems for monitoring foster caregivers’ visits needed improvement to ensure more frequent visits.
The inspectors also reviewed a sample of 16 foster caregivers files for supervision and support visits. Routine visits were evident in nine of the 16 files.
In the remaining seven cases there was insufficient supervision and support visits.
Inspectors reviewed 13 files for the quality of inspection and support visits and found that 11 files showed evidence of good quality visits.
While efforts to monitor visits to children and foster caregivers were evident in most staff supervision records, this did not result in frequent statutory visits to children in care or supervision and support visits to foster caregivers.
In addition, in view of the risks identified during the inspection, an immediate compliance plan was issued to the field manager.
The area manager assured HIQA that audits would be conducted to ensure that all children in need of travel would be identified by the service and that 63 children with overdue visits would be visited by April 22 at the time of the inspection.
The manager also told HIQA that a system would be implemented to ensure better monitoring of children’s visits, that a traffic light system was in place to highlight visits due, and that all excellent supervision and support for foster carers The trips will be completed by April 15. ,