Tusla under fire for raft of failures in reporting sex abuse

The health watchdog has criticised Tusla for not routinely notifying gardaí of alleged sexual or physical abuse and neglect in a timely manner.

The critical report of services in the Dublin south-west, Kildare and west Wicklow areas found major non-compliance in all four standards assessed.

These risks identified by Hiqa included the backlog in processing and uploading new referrals on to the NCCIS (National Childcare Information System), as well as the operation of waiting lists at the preliminary inquiry stage.

A review of cases showed there was good co-working with An Garda Síochána, but the service area was not routinely notifying gardaí of “suspected crimes of wilful neglect or physical or sexual abuse against children in a timely manner”.

The inspection, carried out over three days in April, assessed compliance with national standards relating to managing referrals.

Responding to the report, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, said it accepted the findings.

However, Tusla chief operations officer Jim Gibson added that it was important to state it has made “important headway in implementing a range of measures to reform children protection and welfare services”.

“Tusla has been very clear in highlighting the current challenges around recruitment, with a shortage of social workers nationally,” he said.

“On this front, Tusla has taken a number of positive measures, including holding our first ever national recruitment open day in June and ongoing liaison with third-level institutions.

“This report also highlighted staffing deficits, with 26 vacancies at the time of inspection.”

Tusla service director Patricia Finlay said it had advised Hiqa of a number of ongoing issues. She said the issues around Garda notifications “have been corrected, with all notifications now made at the point of intake”.

Other issues, including backlogs and priority level systems, have also been addressed, according to Tusla.

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