More than 530 Tusla employees have left the agency since the start of last year, but just 25 cited factors such as lack of job satisfaction, lack of promotion opportunities, or unsuitable hours as the reason for their departure.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Child and Family Agency said 533 people left Tusla since the start of last year: 62 retirees and 290 others in 2019, and 32 retirees and 149 others to the end of July in 2020.
Do you know who to call if a child is at risk or in danger? Contact your local Tusla social work office by visiting https://t.co/spjDlkGYxt. If there is an urgent concern call An Garda Síochána on 999 or 112. Together we can help keep children safe from harm. pic.twitter.com/IDcGfWQhPo— Tusla - Child and Family Agency (@tusla) September 22, 2020
Some 85 people said they were taking a career break, while personal reasons were the factors cited in 82 instances in 2019 and the first seven months of 2020. 'Other' factors were listed by 50 people last year and 26 this year.
However, 62 people simply resigned since the start of 2019, including 43 last year.
'No job satisfaction' was given as a reason for departure by 12 people, with nine people saying unsuitable hours was the reason. Four people said they left as there were no promotional opportunities.
Other reasons provided for leaving included moving to another health board or agency (35), further training (10), end of contract (23), and going abroad (six). Ten people who had been employed by Tusla died over the same period.
In addition, 94 employees retired over the period.
According to a spokesperson: "The information was extracted from Tusla’s SAP system and captures reasons for leaving Tusla on the basis of information input by staff when completing mandatory cessation forms prior to leaving, retiring or commencing career breaks between the period January 2019 and July 31, 2020."
It comes as Tusla continues its efforts to improve frontline recruitment and retention, particularly among social workers.
In a recent interview with the Irish Examiner, Tusla CEO Bernard Gloster said the Covid-19 pandemic would have an impact on Tusla's recruitment drive.
He said there were approximately 250 social work graduates in Ireland each year. Tusla had received 100 applications and had already employed 67, but some graduates had not been able to complete elements of their training because of Covid and so were employed as child protection staff until they get their registration.
"Social work cuts across a whole range of disciplines," Mr Gloster said, referring to the HSE, the Irish Prison Service, and the Department of Justice as other bodies seeking to employ social workers.
He said Tusla would look at initiatives to attract social workers, such as scholarship programmes or allowing social workers to be paid in their last year of training, as happens with nurses.
But he said, of cross-border recruitment, which had previously been a focus of attention, "you can pretty much say goodbye to that because of travel restrictions".
Mr Gloster said Tusla can afford 4,780 staff, and its latest recruitment level stood at just under 4,600, with reduced dependency on agency workers.
"So we are very close to full employment in terms of what we are funded to do," he said.
"There is good and bad to that: the good is it means there is a level of stability coming into the workforce, retention rates are improving and so on, the bad is that it will continue to show very clearly the unmet need and that is where you go back to the [Budget] estimates."