Child agency needs a further €17m

The State’s Child and Family Agency has warned that it will need a further €17m in funding to address shortcomings in its frontline social services.

Tusla chief executive Gordon Jeyes appeared before the Oireachtas health committee where he warned that the state agency — established only last year — would need further investment if it is to improve the delivery of its services.

“It is clear that improvement cannot be achieved without investment. At a time of austerity, commitment and dedication have delivered an extraordinary range of improvements. Going forward the capacity to build on these improvements to provide a consis-tent service the length and breath of the country will require continued dedication but also sufficient resources,” he said.

“Having made this progress the lesson of the past is not to let Ireland’s vulnerable children down again.”

Mr Jeyes said Tusla needed 250 additional staff at a cost of about €17m to address backlogs in addressing cases reported to the agency.

“The way we are organised at the moment, we will not survive. It is too fragile, both at the frontline and in the supporting structure,” he told Newstalk’s Lunchtime programme.

“I think it is extremely fragile, to do everything that is expected of us, both on the frontline where we have audited very objectively and reliably the cases that wait too long before they are allocated beyond the duty team, and in terms of our structure.”

He said they had audited the whole country and now believe there are 5,000 cases, 2,000 of which have a priority because of a regulation or because of the need of the family.

“They are being held and monitored by the duty team for too long,” he said.

“To take care of the backlog and to resource teams adequately, we need a further, around 250 additional social workers if we do it in a traditional way.”

“In terms of to meet current demand on that frontline issue — and that’s just one of the many pressures we have — we’d be talking in the area of €17m.”

Speaking at the committee meeting, Mr Jeyes said that Tusla’s business plan targets are being met “despite the fact that corporate support capacity is well below comparator organisations”.

“Whether through HSE shared services or through other alternative routes the Child and Family Agency cannot be sustained unless key functions such as IT and estates, which are but two examples, can be resourced,” he said.


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