HIQA Report Shows Too Many Children Without Social Worker

Published date: 
2 May 2017

HIQA Report Shows Too Many Children Without Social Worker

The Children’s Rights Alliance responded today to Overview Report of 2016 HIQA regulation of social care and healthcare services, which includes monitoring and inspecting children’s services.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said today that: “We have come a long way and there are many positives in this Report for children. The majority of children told HIQA inspectors that they felt safe and well supported by their carer or social care staff. Crucially, they felt they were listened to. HIQA also found that once children had access to a child protection or alternative care service, most received a good service.

However, we cannot be complacent as there are several areas of concern singled out by HIQA. There is still a high number – up to one fifth – of what’s called ‘unallocated cases’ where children are not being allocated a social worker to complete a proper assessment. According to Tusla’s own figures in 2016, over 3% of these cases were deemed ‘high risk’. While this is down from nearly 10% in 2014, this means there are children who may still be at risk because they do not have a social worker.”

HIQA also found that overall children’s rights were upheld and they enjoyed a good quality of life. Most children in care were treated with dignity and respect. At the same time, HIQA continues to identify children who lack knowledge about their rights. Many do not understand how to make a complaint about their treatment or a service. HIQA also notes that there are a low number of complaints recorded in residential care and foster care which could indicate poor recording of complaints and an unwelcoming culture of complaints.

Responding to these findings, Tanya Ward, Children’s Rights Alliance Chief Executive said: “Children in the care system are a very vulnerable group. If they don’t know what rights they have, it’s very difficult for them to challenge adults or service providers who could mistreat them in some way. We need to build young people’s knowledge and confidence around their rights so no child lives in silence.”

Lastly, HIQA did find that good quality assessment and planning was in place for most children but not all. In addition, safeguarding and child protection practices within residential centres showed improvement in 2016. However, HIQA also found significant risks for children in relation to two foster care services, four residential centres and one special care unit. These risks related to ineffective safeguarding practices to promote children’s safety; allegations against staff not being investigated in line with relevant policies; and poor management of allegations made against foster carers.

Responding to this finding, Tanya Ward continued that: “It is imperative that Tusla actually implements good child protection practices within its own services. This is a statutory agency dealing with a very vulnerable, high-risk group of children. A failure to implement Children First National Guidelines could expose a child to abuse and/or neglect.”


For further information, please contact:
Emma McKinley, Communications & Development Manager
01 662 9400 / 087 655 9067

Note for Editors
• Overview of 2016 HIQA regulation of social care and healthcare services is available here
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive is available for interview.