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Recruiting foster carers ‘significant challenge’ for Tusla
Pic: RollingNews.ie

19 Jul 2023 / family law Print

Recruiting foster carers ‘significant challenge’ for Tusla

There were 82,854 referrals to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) in 2022 – an increase of 13% compared with 2021.

The agency’s annual report also highlighted a sharp rise in the numbers of unaccompanied and separated children seeking international protection (SCSIP) last year.

Tusla said that 261 of the 597 referrals linked to these children were from Ukraine, while the rest were mainly from Somalia and Afghanistan.

The agency’s SCSIP team provided placements for 350 children – including 191 from Ukraine.

This represented a 200% increase compared with 2021.

Admissions to care down

According to the agency’s 2022 annual report, 22,033 cases were open at the end of the year, with just over 70% allocated to a social worker. The remaining 28% were awaiting allocation.

There were 813 admissions to care (excluding SCSIP) in 2022, with 666 children coming into care for the first time.

Overall, admissions to care were down 6% compared with 2021.

In total, there were 5,755 children in the care of the agency at the end of 2022 – 108 fewer than in 2021 – with 89% of children in foster care.

Tusla said that recruiting foster carers remained “a significant challenge”, despite the approval of 182 new foster carers during the year.

When those leaving the system were taken into account, there were 75 fewer foster carers than were approved in 2022.

‘Complex issues’

“The demand for our services significantly increased in 2022, in the context of policy and legislative changes, the increased global movement of people, and the incredibly significant and complex issues that individuals, children and families are experiencing,” said interim chief executive Kate Duggan (pictured).

Chair Pat Rabbitte, writing in the report, said that the consequences of the war in Ukraine had put enormous pressure on the agency, which is carrying out a reform programme.

The report comes days after the emergence of a letter to ministers from a retired judge that described the agency as being in “an unprecedented crisis”.

Gazette Desk
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