Social work services for children in Cork are "not sufficient to cope with the level of demand for the service", according to a new report.
HIQA has published details of its inspection of Child Protection and Welfare Services in Cork carried out last October.
Although it praised staff, who "valued the safety of children and prioritised their work in this
regard", it warned that "staffing numbers were not sufficient to cope with the level of demand for the service".
It found that while most of the affected children had been waiting to have a social worker allocated since 2013, the longest wait recorded was since 2010.
The report also stated that "some offices were in poor condition and not a suitable place for children and families to meet their social worker.
"Not all offices in the area had electronic information systems which meant that data was processed manually, making the system unsafe as it lessened the effectiveness of information collection and collation."
Out of 27 areas examined, the service met six standards, required improvement in 19 standards while significant risks were identified in two standards.
"The needs of children and families and children could remain at risk while they waited for an assessment.," the report stated.
"Many children who were deemed to have a high level of need did not all have an allocated social worker or timely access to child protection and welfare interventions.
"Where allegations of retrospective abuse were made against adults, the service had not established the risks to all children who may have contact with these persons."
Responding to the report, Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance at Tusla said: “The inspection found that concerns forwarded to the service were appropriately prioritised.
“All concerns were screened. Children assessed at immediate risk of harm were assessed as high priority and appropriately allocated a Social Worker and acted upon by staff.
“The inspection report highlights that children with the greatest need were effectively identified by the service.
“Tusla accepts that there are a number of areas which require improvement. A comprehensive Action Plan was submitted in response to the report and is published as an integral part of the HIQA report on the service published today.
“Tusla remains committed to constantly improving our services to ensure the best outcomes for the children in our care”.