Tusla workers 'frequently expressed concern' about staffing levels

By Noel Baker
Senior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent

The country's health watchdog has said workers in the Tusla, the Child and Family Agency "frequently expressed concern about staff recruitment and retention", which they believed was causing delays in the system.

The comments were made by Mary Dunnion, Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services in the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

She told the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs that a shortage of graduates could not be used as "an excuse".

"Staff believed this deficit was constantly causing delays in the system - for example, the timely allocation of a social worker to a child and the management of child protection and welfare referrals," she said.

"The challenges in recruiting staff were persistently reported as an organisational risk at board, executive and operational levels of Tusla."

Tusla has repeatedly said there is an insufficient number of social work graduates in Ireland to meet service needs.

While Ms Dunnion agreed, she said: "However, at the time of our investigation, no comprehensive, strategic approach to workforce planning was in place which was informed by the reality of the current employment market.

"For example, there was little evidence that a review of current processes and requirements, and or consideration of upskilling other social care disciplines had happened or was formally underway.

Without taking such a strategic approach, Tusla cannot rely on recurring staff shortages as the default reason for failing to deliver an efficient and safe service to children and their families.

"Nor can they use this as an excuse for not providing an environment where social workers and social care workers can enjoy doing the core job they are qualified to do."

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