ALMOST one third of foster carers in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary were left without any supervisory visits for up to a year.
This led to a significant delay in investigations into protection and welfare concerns raised about children in care.
Foster care services in the Mid West failed to pass the required standards in four out of eight categories, according to a report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
In an inspection carried out last August, while HIQA found that “long-term matching was outstanding across the region”, there were concerns in half of the areas assessed – some of which needed to be urgently addressed.
Inspectors found that 26 out of 95 foster carers did not receive a support and supervisory visit in the twelve months leading up to the inspection.
From a review of files and records, inspectors identified seven foster care households whereby both children and their foster carers had not been visited in the six months prior to the inspection.
Inspectors said they found “inconsistent practice in the implementation of Tusla’s standard business processes for the management of allegations made by children”.
Inspectors looked at three child protection and welfare concerns and found that two were significantly delayed and did not adhere to Tusla’s own timelines.
The report also stated that “there were significant gaps in supervision and case management on children’s and foster carer records” and “substantial amounts of information which should have been held securely on foster care files were not on file or were incomplete”.
Concerns were also raised about “significant delays in completing foster care assessments. One assessment commenced a year after the application was received,” while foster carers were being approved to take in children without mandatory Children First training being completed.
While the inspection unveiled good practice in many areas of the service, these were concerns which need to be addressed, the report said.
This was the third and final thematic inspection of a three-phased programme monitoring foster care services.
Responding to the publication of the report on Tuesday, Caroline Cullen, Regional Chief Officer of Tusla MidWest said: “We welcome this report and its findings on foster care services in the Mid West”.
“We are pleased that children and young people spoke positively about the service they received, and that their voices were central to this inspection.
“We know that there are areas in need of improvement, and we are implementing a regional service improvement plan in line with the Tusla Plan for Foster Care Services to ensure we provide safe, secure and consistent services to children and young people in Foster Care.”