Monthly Archives: June 2011

IFCA Response to HIQA’s Follow-up Inspection

Taken from the IFCA website:

Urgent Need to Prioritise Foster Care

IFCA Response to HIQA’s Follow-up Inspection on the Implementation of National Recommendations on HSE Foster Care Services

June 10, 2011

Today’s publication by HIQA of the Follow-up Inspection on the Implementation of National Recommendations on HSE Foster Care Services clearly illustrates the need to prioritise the reform of foster care services. Over 90 percent of children in State care are placed with foster carers. As such, foster care represents the backbone of the Irish child care system. It is imperative that the failure to provide every child in care with a social worker and every foster family with a link worker must be immediately addressed. The continued failure on the part of the HSE to implement Children First on a uniform basis across all regions is a cause of great concern. Progress, particularly in respect of the recruitment of 200 additional social workers and the appointment of a National Director for Family Services, is welcome and should be recognised.

Because of the failure to deliver the necessary statutory supports to children and foster families, the HSE is jeopardising foster care placements. Where a social worker or a link worker is not assigned to a child or a foster family, a huge burden is placed on the foster parents to support and care for the child. According to the HIQA report, only half of all foster carers have an assigned link worker. This is a wholly unacceptable practice.

Recruitment of foster families is an on-going challenge. In the absence of the minimum levels of support deemed necessary to support a child’s placement in care, potential foster parents will be unlikely to come forward and offer themselves as carers. Foster parents must be continuously trained and supported. Without such supports, the demands of caring for children, who, in some cases, have very complex needs, become too much and placements break down. As a consequence some children experience multiple placements, which in turn lead to poor outcomes for children.

There is an urgent need to ensure that all non-relative foster carers who are currently caring for children are assessed and approved. Retrospective assessments should be carried out in a sensitive manner given that children may have been happily living with the foster family and may have been well cared for by the foster family for a number of years.

The recommendation to establish a National Register of foster carers is supported by IFCA and we welcome the fact that the HSE is formulating proposals in this regard.

Previous HIQA reports into foster care in Local Health Areas in Dublin and Cork have shown that even where the HSE has failed in the provision of statutory services, in the main, the quality of care being provided to children was of a high quality. It is vitally important to differentiate between the failure or incapacities of Statutory agencies to provide services and the huge commitment and care shown by foster families to children placed in their care.

Liam Cullen,

Head of Services,

Irish Foster Care Association