HIQA releases report into child protection and welfare services in West Wicklow

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published the findings of a Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) inspection in the Dublin South West, Kildare, West Wicklow service area, which assessed six parameters.

wo was found to be obedient, three were largely obedient and one was non-compliant.

HIQA inspected the Dublin South West, Kildare, West Wicklow service area over three days in April 2022. This inspection assessed compliance with national standards relating to the management of children who are at significant risk of harm and who are placed in Tusla’s Child Safety Notification System (CPNS).

The inspectors spoke to one child and six parents about their experiences with child protection arrangements. Most of the feedback given was positive. The parents said that their social workers worked closely with and helped them and their children. He said he was given the direct contact number of his social worker and was told what was happening. The parents wanted to know when their social worker was on leave and whom to contact in their absence.

All parents said that they were given the opportunity to speak at the meetings, and felt that their views were heard and incorporated into the agreed safety plan actions. Everyone commented that they felt the actions taken had helped keep their children safe. However, one parent felt that they had not been adequately informed about the legal procedures that could follow if there was not a substantial improvement in the level of care their children were able to provide.

With regard to competence and competence, overall inspectors found strong leadership, governance and performance management of child protection practices within the service sector. The region benefits from having an experienced and stable senior management team with a shared focus on driving continuous service improvement. The organization’s culture fostered strong child-centred practice with effective engagement of families and partner agencies. All the children on the Child Protection Scheme (CPNS) had an allotted social worker. Case handovers between teams were closely monitored by managers to prevent delays in case transfers and ensure continuous monitoring of risks.

However, the inspectors also identified areas for improvement where governance and capacity of the service sector were not sufficiently resourced or effective in achieving consistently high levels of child protection practice. Local procedures and practices to protect and meet the needs of children who are identified at ongoing risk of significant harm due to their own behaviour, essential development.

The Service is substantially compliant in carrying out its functions in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, national policies and standards to promote the safety and well-being of children. Managers and employees recognize their accountability to protect children and promote their well-being, and take appropriate action to improve the service sector’s compliance with relevant laws, regulations, policies and standards.

However, the Interim National Guidelines on Child Protection Case Conferencing and the Child Protection Notification System (2018) were over-due review, and needed to be updated by the Agency for Children and Families. Child protection and welfare processes and practices to protect children and meet their needs are recognized at ongoing risk of significant harm because of their complex needs and behaviors that require further development.

The service was followed as a system for reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness and safety of child protection and welfare service provision and delivery. The service sector had clear and effective systems for risk identification and management that ensured timely alerts to senior managers about children at significant ongoing risk of harm.

Tusla was also assessed on how children receive a child protection and welfare service that has effective leadership, governance and management systems with clear lines of accountability, and judges non-compliance . The service sector had clear plans and well-defined governance systems and structures to aid in the delivery of child protection services. However, systems and levels of support for children with high and complex needs at ongoing risk of significant harm were not sufficiently developed to address the major risks to their safety and well-being.

Challenges were brewing in the ability of the service sector to consistently provide the required level of support to all children at CPNS. There were deficiencies in the availability, review and updating of case records of some children; With evidence of discrepancies in the levels of support and supervision of children.

The service was found to be substantially compliant in implementing child protection schemes to promote the safety and well-being of children who are at risk of harm or neglect. Child protection conferences were overall timely and well managed and provided an open and transparent framework for discussion about the risks to children and the motivation and potential of parents to change.

Overall the quality of child protection protection schemes was of satisfactory level; And social workers and their managers had a good understanding of the current risks. However, in some cases, protection plans were not adequately reviewed and updated, and home visits and network support meetings did not meet the expected frequency set within child safety protection plans. Decision compliance to a large extent.

Children’s protection plans and interventions are first reviewed according to the needs of the children, they were also judged to be substantially compliant. Review the Convention on Child Protection (RCPC) at regular intervals in line with the Children First Guidance. Where delays existed, they were clearly documented and effectively recorded. The RCPCs provided a clear structure for monitoring the safety and welfare of children enlisted in the CPNS, with additional support provided in response to increased risk or changes in the circumstances of children and their families.

The service was considered in line with the provision of inter-agency and inter-professional cooperation and promotes the safety and well-being of children. The Child Protection Service in the service area had robust multi-agency and multidisciplinary information-sharing and joint work arrangements at all stages of child protection processes. This helped ensure a shared response to meet the needs of the children and monitor the risks to their safety.