One of the unintended consequences of our curmudgeonly attitude towards transparency in public affairs might be that when research is eventually published, even if belatedly, it may be possible to point to improvements made since the data was gathered.
It may even be possible to argue that improvements were provoked by the original research — which, after all, is the purpose of reviewing how we deliver services.
That perspective may be applicable to the analysis undertaken by independent chair for child in care reviews, Caroline O’Meara, three years ago. In 2017 she found that most children in care did not attend a child in care review. Ms O’Meara also found that nearly 25% of reviews did not faithfully observe statutory guidelines.
In one Tusla area 201 reviews operated within statutory guidelines but 64 did not. Just 71 children cooperated with a review but 194 did not. Exacerbating that poor participation rate, only 40 of those submitted a review form, meaning that 75% of children within the case study did not have an input into their care planning.
Last November — the latest figures available — there were 5,971 children in care, 5,469 in foster care, so this research, especially in a society with such a devastating history around childcare, is important but not as important as Ms O’Meara’s assertion that things have “definitely improved” since she conducted her 2016 research, showing that with time and optimism positive outcomes are possible.