Probe finds major flaws in foster care

A HIQA investigation has uncovered serious defects in the foster care service run by the HSE's Dublin North West Local Health Area (LHA).

The HIQA inspection report says the LHA could not guarantee good outcomes for 350 children in its foster care service. Some children were being cared for by foster parents who were previously found not to be suitable.

Practices to ensure safe and effective outcomes for all children in foster care in the LHA were not adequate, HIQA found.

The report said unplanned endings of foster placements in homes were not well managed and in some cases foster parents and children had not been given adequate support when difficulties arose.

It found that sibling groups requiring fostering were not always placed together and children did not have easy access to aftercare services.

The report said children were not always supported in exercising their rights and a robust complaints procedure was not in place.

HSE governance structures for the foster care service in the area were inadequate and educational outcomes for children were not recorded or monitored.

The inspection found that 41% of children in foster care were placed in homes outside the LHA, which made contact with family members difficult.

The resources to provide good quality access for families to their children were insufficient and some birth parents were not happy about access arrangements with their children.

The report said many foster carers were providing high quality care and children's needs were being met, with foster carers committed and child-centred in their approach. However, not all foster carers took up training opportunities and most had not undergone reviews.

The children fostered were able to make choices in their daily lives and many were happy in their placements, having opportunities to create new and meaningful relationships.

However, there was no overall risk management process that tracked and addressed complaints, concerns and allegations against foster carers. Practices to ensure safe and effective outcomes for all children in foster care were not adequate.

The report said there were insufficient placement options in the LHA and this posed a problem in terms of appropriate matching and availability of placements.

It was found that only two-thirds of foster carers in the area had a link social worker to support them.

View the full report here



[Posted: Thu 21/02/2013]


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