One in five children in care in parts of Ireland did not have a social worker assigned to their care last year.
Figures published by the country’s Child and Family Agency, Tusla, revealed that 451 children were affected. This represents around seven per cent of the total number in care throughout Ireland. Tusla is an independent body which works to improve the lives of children in the country. Their policy on children in care states that every child in the system should have someone from social services dedicated to their care.
The proportion of children without an allotted social worker varied between the various counties. In County Donegal in the north of the country, 44 of the 210 children in care did not have such support. At 21 per cent, this was the highest reported rate of affected children. The second highest proportion came in the mid-west region, where 19 per cent of children did not have a social worker at the end of 2015.
James Reilly, the acting Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, suggested that the gaps identified could be explained by “a number of factors including maternity leave, vacancies and competing priorities”.
In response to a parliamentary question on the matter, Mr Reilly claimed that government officials had spoken with members of Tusla and that “steps are being taken as a priority to remedy the situation”.
At the end of 2015, there were 6,388 children in care in Ireland. A vast majority – 93 per cent – were in foster care placements. In England, there were close to 70,000 children living in care last year, which was the highest number in 30 years.