Children’s services publication statement 25 April 2018
Wednesday, 25 April, 2018
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two inspection reports on children’s residential centres.
HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 69 of the Child Care Act, 1991 as amended by Section 26 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011, to inspect children’s residential care services provided by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). HIQA monitors Tusla’s performance against the National Standards for Children’s Residential Services and reports on its findings to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
In an unannounced inspection of a centre in the Dublin North East service area, on 10 January 2018, inspectors found that children spoke very positively of the centre. Children remarked on the quality friendships they have made with one another, but expressed concern for their future and uncertainty as to where they would live when they reached 18 years. The children’s quality of life was good and staff treated children respectfully and warmly.
All children in the centre were in the care of Tusla on a voluntary care basis, under Section 4 of the Child Care Act 1991. However, inspectors found that the children’s files did not contain the relevant documentation to support their care status. Of the files sampled, there were no copies of any court order relating to the children or parental consent to the children’s admission to voluntary care on files in accordance with the Child Care (Placement of Children in Residential Care) Regulations 1995.
All children had an allocated social worker. However, the frequency of visits to the centre by social workers was not in line with the Child Care (Placement of Children in Residential Care) Regulations 1995.
Management systems to ensure safe and effective service delivery were evolving at the centre and oversight and quality improvement measures were developing in the centre. Supervision of staff required improvement.
In an unannounced follow-up inspection to a centre in the Dublin Mid Leinster service area, on 13 and 14 December 2017, inspectors found that the majority of actions from the previous inspection in April 2017 had not been completed. Since the previous inspection, there had been a number of changes in the management of the centre. As a result there was a lack of consistency in management and this impacted negatively on the governance of the centre. Governance reports for the centre had not been submitted for several months, staffing arrangements were inadequate to meet the needs of the children and staff were not supervised in accordance with policies.
There were high levels of risk taking behaviour in the centre during the two day inspection. There had been 302 incidents of young people being absent from the centre without authority since the last inspection, and there was a rising issue of young people using illicit substances on a frequent basis, including in their bedrooms and on the property. The frequent absences, suspected risk-taking behaviour, and lack of engagement was not risk-assessed and was not adequately addressed by managers and staff.
Due to the high risks and safety concerns for the young people in the centre, inspectors requested an urgent meeting with the regional manager. Following this meeting, the regional manager provided written assurances and a written plan to mitigate the immediate risks especially over the upcoming holiday period. The regional manager provided inspectors with an immediate action plan response to mitigate the risks in the centre which included: no further admissions; non-sleeping night staff were put in place from the 22 December 2017, and were to remain in place until further review; plans were put in place to support the reduction and or prevention of further absences within the centre; a Safety Plan was introduced to direct staff in how to manage absences within the centre; as well as additional staffing and reduced capacity within the centre.
An Interim Centre Manager was drawn down from Tusla’s national panel of centre managers, who commenced duty on 12 February 2018.
The services prepared action plans to address the non-compliances identified on inspection.