A report on Kerry’s Child Protection and Welfare Service has shown a significant number of cases are waiting for lengthy periods before being allocated a social worker.
The HIQA inspection of the service operated by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla took place between November 25th and 28th last year.
In the six months before the inspection, the Kerry Child Protection and Welfare Service received 816 referrals.
HIQA said the Kerry Child Protection and Welfare Service needed to improve and strengthen governance arrangements so it could provide a timely and consistent service to children; it noted the service was going through a period of change and had experienced many challenges over the previous two years.
The report showed that appropriate action was taken when a child was at immediate risk or required an urgent response.
HIQA highlighted gaps in staff files and inspectors were concerned in relation to the absence of appropriate up-to-date vetting and professional registration.
Just one of 38 referrals to the service examined by inspectors had been completed within Tulsa’s own timeframe of five days; preliminary enquiries were taking up to three months to complete.
There were a significant number of cases awaiting allocation of a social worker for lengthy periods of time; nine cases were waiting between two and 14 months for allocation.
HIQA found one case of suspected abuse had not been reported to Gardaí despite being outstanding since January 2019; the reporting of another case was delayed by four months.
Tusla says a number of positive key changes have been introduced in Kerry including the appointment of a number of senior members of management to provide greater oversight and governance of the service.
Tusla says immediate action was also taken in relation to referrals to Gardaí and deficits in staff files relating to vetting and registration were pursued immediately and all social workers on active duty have current registration.
Area Manager, Breda Lynch, said the report highlights a number of areas for improvement, their own audits have also identified shortcomings and a number of steps have been taken to drive rapid improvement.
Ms Lynch says teams have been re-configured adding they are fully committed to the safety of children in Kerry.