Report uncovers number of failures in Tusla's handling of child abuse allegations

A number of failures have been identified following an investigation into the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.

The Ombudsman launched an examination after receiving a number of complaints about the way the agency investigates allegations of child abuse against adults.

It found that the agency took a long time to deal with some child abuse allegations and that confidential communications were sent to the wrong address.

The investigation also found some Tusla social workers lacked empathy, breached the rights of accused adults, and failed to follow its own procedures for keeping social work records.

Peter Tyndall says they have looked at how Tusla can improve the delivery of its services and made their recommendations in a report called 'Taking Stock'.

He said: "We've quite a lengthy series of recommendations to do with the way that Tusla puts procedures in place, to do with recruiting sufficient staff to be able to do the job, to training and managing those staff well.

"And also recommendations about how they deal with complaints."

Tusla have said that they have been working to improve their work for the past 12 to 18 months.

Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance at Tusla, said: "I welcome the acknowledgement by the Ombudsman of the difficult environment in which social workers work, and of the difficultly in dealing with disclosures of retrospective abuse.

"'Taking Stock', which was based on a small sample of individual complaints, provides valuable learnings for us and we are working proactively with the Ombudsman in relation to implementing the recommendations in the report. Many of these have already progressed significantly."

    Tusla undertook the following activities to enhance the complaints function in 2016:

  • Guidance for members of the public and staff and a complaints leaflet for young people were developed and published on the Tusla website;
  • Briefing sessions on Tell Us for Tusla staff commenced;
  • Quarterly service experience reports produced to support learning and development of practice improvements;
  • The development of the National Children’s Charter advanced.

Last year, the agency launched its own complaints and feedback policy and procedure, called 'Tell Us'.

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