If you need information or advice on fostering in Ireland we have a wide range of services and resources available to prospective and existing foster parents.
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The National Standards for Foster Care (2003) states “Where allegations of abuse or neglect or suspected abuse or neglect are being assessed and/or investigated health boards offer the foster carers and all children and young people in the home appropriate counselling and support”. (section 10.18).
An information leaflet “Guidance on dealing with Complaints or Allegations of Child Protection and Welfare Concerns” is available here This is a guidance document which outlines the standards, policies and processes in the management of such issues.
This document is informed by The Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook (HSE, 2011), Children First National Guidelines (2011, 2013), Tusla’s Policy and Procedures for responding to allegations of Child Abuse and Neglect (2014), The National Standards for Foster Care (2003) and Our Duty to Care (DCYA, 2004).
We are attaching a copy of both the guide and the policy relating to Tusla’s new complaints procedure – “Tell Us”. Up until recently, Tusla were utilising the old system specific to the HSE – “Your Service, Your Say”. This new policy is very similar. IFCA consulted with the Tusla Quality Department throughout 2015/2016 and made a number of suggestions relating to this new policy, which we are happy to see included.
The policy and the guidance document are found here:
There are a number of points we consider specifically relevant in light of our case experience with those who have utilised this and the older complaints route in the past:
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about an organisation’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the organisation.
…..The ‘Child and Family Agency Act 2013’ established the right to make a complaint about any action or inaction on the part of Tusla….
…. An action by Tusla does not represent fair or sound administrative practice if it is:
· Taken without proper permission or authority;
· Taken for unnecessary reasons;
· The result of negligence or carelessness;
· Based on incorrect or incomplete information;
· Based on undesirable administrative practices or in any other respect contrary to fair or sound administration.
The following principles underpin Tusla’s approach to receiving complaints:
· All individuals making complaints will be treated with dignity and respect;
· Making a complaint will in no way adversely affect the service an individual receives from Tusla.
4.8.2 Stage 2 – Referral to Complaints Officer
Complaints officers must consider their proximity to an issue complained of before starting an investigation. A complaints officer should not be involved in managing a complaint about a matter in which they have had either a direct or indirect involvement (in such circumstance the complaint must be passed to another complaints officer not linked to the complaint).
We encourage the local resolution of issues as the first option before advising individuals to go down the route of making a complaint. This can involve taking the issue from the child’s social worker and /or carer’s link worker/Team Leader/Principal Social Worker/Area Manager/Service Director.
This information is also fully available on Tusla’s website at http://www.tusla.ie/about/feedback-and-complaints
The National Standards for Foster Care (2003) states that it is the role of the link worker to ensure “that counselling is available to foster carers and their children where a placement breakdown has occurred, or after other critical events”. (Section 15.3)
Citizen’s Advice Service
The Citizen’s advice service provides information on public services and entitlements in Ireland. It is provided by the Citizens Information Board. Learn more about Citizens Information. You can also get Citizens Information by phoning the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, or by visiting your local Citizens Information Centre. If you have difficulty finding the relevant details you need or are seeking additional information that is specifically relating to Fostering issues, please contact the IFCA Helpline.