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Press Release - IASW in response to the numerous revelations showing how vulnerable children have been failed by the State

  • 14 Apr 2016

In response to the numerous revelations showing how vulnerable children have been failed by the State, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW), the professional body for social workers in the Republic of Ireland, joins with children's charities in calling for all of these cases to be investigated, but also for the recommendations of previous enquiries and reports to be fully implemented immediately so that we can offer children and families more than a crisis led service.

Dónal O'Malley, Chairperson of the IASW stated that "While every failure needs to be investigated to ensure that lessons are learnt and mistakes aren't repeated, we already know many of the measures that need to be undertaken. These have been laid out in the findings of the Kilkenny incest case, the report into the Roscommon abuse case and the recommendations of the Ryan Report, to name but a few. The IASW believes that immediately, we need more social workers in Tusla; to deal with the open, unallocated cases; to reduce the unmanageable caseloads of existing social workers; to enable us to respond in a more timely fashion to the 40,000 child protection notifications received annually and also to better support foster carers and the children placed with them.”

“Children who are removed from their parents because they have suffered abuse and/or severe neglect need time to build relationships with the social workers who are looking after them. They also need stable placements where their day-to-day needs are met, preferably within one of the many supportive and understanding foster carer families. Only then can they begin to trust again. Only then do they start to talk. And only then can they begin to heal.”

“But we also need to ensure that the social workers within Tusla are properly supported and complemented in their work by administrative staff, access workers and child-care workers and they all have sufficient supervisory support to enable them to manage the complex needs of the children in their care.”

“In the longer term, we need to re-imagine how we protect children. We must have a multi-disciplinary service that caters for the wide spectrum of needs that children and their family’s have and not a service merely focused on “fire-fighting”, running from one crisis to the next. We need to look at how and when we can better support parents who are struggling to cope by proactively identifying vulnerable families and intervening before things start to breakdown, for example through our Primary Care services. We also need to look beyond the health and social care services and think how our legal system can better protect the needs of children while also respecting parents’ rights.”

The Irish Association of Social Workers believes that if we are all committed to ensuring the needs of children are met and the voices of children are heard, then the next government must put ‘children first’ and place their needs at the heart of all our social, economic and health policies.

- ENDS

Further Information. Donal O’Malley Chairperson for the Irish Association of Social Workers can be contacted at 086-8372511 or chairperson@iasw.ie for further information.