Tusla to open specialised facilities for children affected by sexual abuse in Cork and Dublin

The agency is also targetting a 30% reduction in its national waiting lists in the next three years
Tusla to open specialised facilities for children affected by sexual abuse in Cork and Dublin

The new plan also seeks a 30% reduction across the three years in the number of children awaiting assessment for Home Schooling under Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Services, starting from a baseline figure in 2020 of 1,435.

Tusla is targetting a 30% reduction in all its national waiting lists over the next three years, as well as opening facilities to help children affected by sexual abuse in Cork and Dublin.

The targets are included in Tusla's latest three-year corporate plan, which will run to 2023 and aims to improve how complaints are dealt with; increase compliance with national standards for child protection and welfare, residential care and foster care; and train all staff in the fundamentals of GDPR, with specific training provided to some staff engaged in high-risk areas of data processing.

The latest plan, which is before the Oireachtas, also said the last corporate plan, which covered the years 2018 to 2020, "lacked a consolidated and integrated approach to achieving the objectives as set out".

As for the finances available, the Tusla plan stated: "The fiscal space within which we deliver our services is a significant consideration and the delivery of services within allocation is challenging for the Agency. 

"Despite considerable additional resources to the Agency in recent years, the unmet need for services has always exceeded capacity. 

In this environment, we have sought and will continue to prioritise, resources into those services so that we achieve the best quality outcomes for the service users.

Tusla's budget has increased since its establishment in 2014 but so has its level of expenditure; non-pay spending grew by €119.5m between 2014 and 2020.

The latest plan outlines ways in which achieving targets will be measured, including the 30% reduction in all national waiting lists, such as allocation of a social worker and for aftercare services.

It also aims for a reduction in data breaches over the lifespan of the corporate plan and a reduction of the impact of incidents of violence and harassment incidents in the workplace. 

Each region is also to have a clear map of an integrated services network of counselling and therapeutic supports, as well as systematic collation of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence data.

The Barnahus facility in Galway, the first of its kind in Ireland, operates as a one-stop-shop for children affected by sexual abuse and the new plan says Tusla is aiming to establish similar services in Cork and Dublin.

The plan also highlights a desire to increase in the number of graduates recruited across social worker and social care worker grades and an increase in staff retention, and that no complaint is still open at 12 months. 

It also earmarks a revised Protected Disclosure Policy.

It also said that 100% of children in care with a disability will be funded in line with the HSE and Tusla joint protocol and that all decisions on AGS (an Garda Síochána) notifications will be made in a timely manner — two areas in which Tusla has received criticism in recent years.

The plan also seeks a 30% reduction across the three years in the number of children awaiting assessment for Home Schooling under Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Services, starting from a baseline figure in 2020 of 1,435.

Just 36% of special care units are compliant or substantially compliant with standards and Tusla aims to improve this by 10% over the course of the plan.

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