Referrals to Tusla at highest level in five years

According to Tusla's latest quarterly report, 56,561 referrals were received in 2019, a rise of 3% or 1,425 more referrals than in 2018 and the highest number for the period 2015 - 2019.
Referrals to Tusla at highest level in five years

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The number of referrals made to the Child and Family Agency in 2019 was its highest annual for five years.According to Tusla's latest quarterly report, 56,561 referrals were received in 2019, a rise of 3% or 1,425 more referrals than in 2018 and the highest number for the period 2015 – 2019.

The data is contained in the Tusla report for the first quarter of 2020, which also shows improvements in the allocation of cases and in the time taken to screen referrals.

It also found that 827 children listed as ‘active’ on the Child Protection Notification System at the end of March this year - the lowest such figure for any quarter since the start of 2017.

While much of the data in the latest report applies to the first quarter of this year, the referrals tallies operate a quarter in arrears. In the last three months of last year 57% of referrals were for welfare concerns and 43% were concerns of abuse.

The outcome of the initial assessment was recorded for 1,358 referrals in the same three month period and ‘No further action’ was recorded in 46% of cases.

However, supplementary and provisional monthly data is available for the first quarter of 2020. That shows 5,127 referrals were made in March, down 7% from the February figure. According to Tusla: "Decrease in March 2020 expected due to the closing of schools on March 12, 2020."

The highest number of referrals last year was reported by the Cork area (7,287), followed by Midlands (6,666 referrals), Dublin North (5,165) and Midwest (4,931). The fewest number was reported by Kerry (1,249).

When it came to the allocation of cases to social workers, the March data shows 458 high priority cases were awaiting allocation at the end of the month - that was 10% of all cases awaiting allocation.

At least 734 referrals relating to allegations of retrospective abuse were made to Tusla in the first three months of 2020. By the end of last March at least 654 retrospective cases were awaiting allocation, including 67 cases deemed to be high priority.

The majority (93%) of retrospective reports received for March this year are for sexual abuse.

At the start of this month, the Irish Examiner revealed that Tusla was

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The latest quarterly report shows that Tusla had 22,745 cases open to social work nationally at the end of last March - the lowest number for any quarter for two years. It also noted improvements in the allocation of cases to social workers in the first three months of this year.

The latest quarterly report also shows 87 incidents notified to the Early Years Inspectorate between January and March this year and three services removed from the national register in the same period.

Inspections of early years services were among the areas hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while 483 referrals linked to possible school absenteeism ere screened by senior educational welfare services in March - around half the figure for February.

It also showed Tusla exceeding its budget in the first three months of the year, led by an over-spend in private residential and foster care costs.

There were 5,974 children in care at the end of March 2020

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