Just over 1,100 reports of suspected child abuse have been made in the first six weeks of mandatory reporting — well below the figures that were expected.
Mandatory reporting of child-abuse concerns came into force on December 11.
There had been concerns that the new system would place serious pressure on child-protection services and would only exacerbate and lengthen social-work waiting lists.
Tusla had estimated that mandatory reporting would result in between 22,000 and 65,000 additional reports each year.
Speaking in the Seanad, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said Tusla has put structures and processes in place ahead of the rollout of mandatory reporting.
She said online training around reporting was also put in place.
“Taking all of these factors into account, there was no doubt in my mind that we were never more ready to take this hugely important step,” said Ms Zappone.
“We are now six weeks into mandatory reporting and yesterday I received an update from Tusla. The figures are preliminary and I want to underline that.
“However, the leadership of Tusla say that just over 1,100 mandated reports have been received.
“Even with the health warning that the figures are preliminary, it is clear that the anticipated spike has not yet happened.
“Thankfully the negative impact on children’s services has also not materialised.”
Ms Zappone said there is no room for complacency and has asked her officials for constant updates on the figures so her department can respond to any increases in reporting.
However, as far back as August 2016, when a regime of mandatory reporting was being developed Tusla chief executive Fred McBride wrote to the Department of Children to raise his concerns around the new system.
He told it: “I have serious concerns regarding the commencement of the mandatory reporting aspect of the Children First Act.
“Evidence from other jurisdictions indicates that mandatory reporting could increase referrals to the agency by 150%.”
Under the new system professionals who deal with children, including teachers, nurses, and gardaí, are required to report any suspicions of child abuse to Tusla.
Those making mandated reports must do so in writing.
Tusla has an online portal in place for the receipt of these mandated reports which allows people to register and submit any concerns directly.
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