Audit of child safety urged by Hiqa

Health watchdog Hiqa has told the Child and Family Agency it should conduct an audit to ensure there are no asylum-seeker children at risk of harm because of incomplete assessments, due to the moving of families between different direct provision accommodation centres.

The recommendation was among a number made to Tusla by the Health Information and Quality Authority in an action plan issued to the Child and Family Agency on foot of recent inspections into child welfare services for children in direct provision.

Hiqa asked Tusla which actions it had taken or planned to take, including that “The Child and Family Agency will collaborate with the Reception Integration Agency and other state agencies where appropriate, to conduct an audit of referrals received in respect of children in direct provision to ensure any outstanding or incomplete assessments are completed.

“This will involve identifying families requiring assessment who have moved, and their forwarding address, if known. Where current whereabouts is unknown, further checks will be made with all social work departments nationally, and An Garda Siochana if required, to inform what further enquiries and action may need to be taken.”

The action plan also calls for the development of an inter-cultural strategy within the next 12 months that would include cultural diversity training, written information on child welfare and support services in different languages, and guidance for staff on the provision of interpreting services.

Hiqa also called for effective inter-agency co-operation with other stakeholders, including RIA and the gardaí, on the sharing of information “to ensure that no vulnerable child or family known to the child protection teams are moved to another centre, moved out into the community, deported or otherwise moved out of any centre without the child protection team being aware of same and a forwarding address being secured”.

Information on children in direct provision should also be stored on a separate database, Hiqa recommended.

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