Delay in detailing complaints about foster carers

The new Child and Family Agency has said it will not be able to detail how many foster carers have been the subject of complaints or how many have been the subject of an investigation until a new database is up and running.

The agency said such data was not collated nationally at present but said new processes were being put in place to gather such information in future.

A Tusla spokesperson said: “A new electronic national foster care database is under development and it is anticipated that it will be possible to create such a report in the future.”

The same database will also be able to register the number of complaints lodged with Fostering Resource Units, the number of cases in which an investigation was conducted or was passed on to gardaí, and the number of foster carers who previously had their application to foster rejected by the Foster Care Committee.

Tusla has revealed that last year 208 foster carers permanently left the fostering service, although the Child and Family Agency said no reasons were given as to why the carers left and therefore the figure should not be read as leaving or being removed as carers as a sanction or as a result of poor parenting.

The highest number of foster carers who left the service permanently last year were in the HSE South area, where 112 carers left.

In contrast, 15 carers left fostering in Dublin Mid Leinster and 19 in Dublin North East. In HSE West 62 foster carers permanently left the service.

The most recent HSE Performance Assurance Report for last December showed that 4,140 children were in foster care while 1,858 were in foster care with relatives.

HSE South had the highest number of children in foster care nationally, although it fell short of its annual target.

Tusla also said there are no sanctions that can be applied to foster carers found to have been flouting regulations over the care they had been providing, but a spokesperson said if there were concerns around the quality of care, the child would be removed and any serious child protection concerns would be reported as per the Children First guidelines.

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