Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has accused the Government of ignoring repeated warnings about child protection services and of failing to fund the agency responsible for child welfare adequately. It’s emerged that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has flagged concerns about its ability to meet key standards for children and is warning that further cuts to services will have to be enforced unless its funding is not increased.
Deputy Troy said, “Despite a litany of promises about improvements in child welfare provision, this Government’s record in this area is appalling. It established a Department for Children and appointed a Cabinet Minister but has failed to put the necessary resources into the central body responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. Once again Fine Gael and Labour’s penchant for concentrating on optics and announcements rather than concerning themselves with issues like funding and resources has led to a crisis in the system.
“I along with colleagues in child protection services have consistently called on the Government to address the funding issue at Tusla. The concept of integrating all children’s welfare services under one roof was the right decision to take, but Minister James Reilly and Minister Frances Fitzgerald before him failed to provide the money to run the agency effectively.
“There are huge gaps in staffing, services are still not operating on a 24/7 basis and vulnerable children are falling through the cracks. The agency ran a €25m deficit in its first year of existence and despite strenuous warnings that it needed an additional €45m to keep services at a “standstill”, the Department failed to take heed and allocated just over half of that.
“This Government is walking child protection services into an emergency situation. The refusal to sanction realistic budgets is leaving Tusla extremely exposed, falling behind the curve and deeper into crisis. Before promising tax breaks and cuts, Fine Gael and Labour should concentrate on ensuring that vulnerable children and families are protected by approving a more realistic budget for Tusla next week”.