Tusla received record number of referrals in first three months of 2019

Tusla received record number of referrals in first three months of 2019

The number of referrals to the Child and Family Agency relating to alleged abuse have hit a quarterly high.

The figures contained in the most recently published quarterly reports by Tusla also show 15,388 referrals in Q1 2019 - 11% more than in the last quarter of last year, and the highest number for all quarters since Tusla was established at the beginning of 2014.

According to the report, 51% (7,775) of referrals were for welfare concerns, while 49% (7,613) were concerns of abuse - again the highest number for all quarters since the beginning of 2014.

It said: “Ten areas reported a percentage equal to or higher than the national average of 49% for abuse (Dublin South Central, Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow, Dublin North, LH/MH, Cork, Kerry, CW/KK/ST, GY/RN, Mayo and SLWC).”

Of the overall abuse referral figures, ‘No further action’ was recorded in 40% of cases where outcome was provided.

The report also shows that 6,017 children in care at the end of the second quarter of this year, the first such increase after eight consecutive decreases.

Cork had the highest number of children without an up-to-date care plan.

Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service, which deals with school absenteeism, has seen a 22% increase in the number of screened referrals on a waiting list in the second quarter of this year compared with the first quarter of 2019.

In total 1,837 referrals were screened by senior educational welfare officers Q2 2019, bringing to 5,676 the number of referrals screened for the period Sept 2018 – June 2019, 6% fewer than Sept 2017 – June 2018.

However, according to the latest quarterly report published by the Child and Family Agency, there were 2,766 screened referrals on a waiting list at the end of Q2 2019; 491 (22%) more than Q1 2019 (2,275) and 720 (35%) more the same period in 2018.

In all 671 new individual children were worked with by the EWS in the second quarter of 2019, bringing the total for the period Sep 2018 – June 2019 to 2,970 - 251 (9%) more than Sep 2017 – June 2018 (2,719).

It also shows that 178 school attendance notices (SANs) issued by EWS in Q2 2019, bringing to 624 the number issued for the period Sept 2018 – June 2019, 57 fewer than Sept 2017 – June 2018 (681).

Between April and June this year, 37 summonses were issued, resulting in 143 issued across the school year, a marginal decrease compared with 2016/17.

The report also shows that Tusla’s financial outturn for the year to date (June 2019) is an over-spend of almost €10m.

While pay costs were underspent against budget by €3.2n, non-pay costs were overspent by €14.4m, with private residential and foster care costs €13.4m over budget.

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