Foster care services in Kilkenny understaffed and ‘chaotic’ – report
By COLIN BARTLEY
THE social care services in Kilkenny are “chaotic” and lacked “professional oversight” for the children in its foster programme.
And one in five of all children in Kilkenny in foster care services throughout Kilkenny have not being allocated a social worker to oversee their placement and ensure their needs are met.
The worrying findings are contained in a new Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspection report on the foster care services operated by Tusla in the Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary service area published today.
The report also found Tusla is having issues retaining social workers and has a high number of vacant social worker positions.
It states: “The allocation of social workers to children in care was chaotic and not child-centered. Children experienced frequent changes to their allocated social workers and long periods without an allocated social worker.
“Children were visited by multiple different Tusla professionals; significant events were not always responded to; actions agreed at care planning reviews were not followed up on and as a result support services were not always provided.”
Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion (pictured below), who is also Sinn Fein’s children spokesperson, welcomed the publication of the report. However, Deputy Funchion said she is “not surprised” by its findings.
She told KilkennyNow.ie: “I hate to say it but I’m not surprised. Unfortunately, I have only ever had very negative dealings with Tusla services in Kilkenny – not getting responses, not getting answers, and then hearing from the children that they don’t have a social worker.
“There are not enough social workers in the area. When a social worker is in place, they are simply assigned too many cases.
“Staff morale is very low. People simply don’t stay in the job.”
Deputy Funchion said the report clearly highlights that local foster care services has many issues that must now be addressed.
The Kilkenny TD added: “I’m glad this report unveiled the figures so people can start to do something about it now. There obviously is some sort of an issue around management and the attitude of management in the South East when it comes to the social work area. That is something that needs to be addressed.”