Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD has said it is clear that there is genuine concern among those working on the frontline of our child care services that any increase in reporting requirements will only increase the strain on a system that is already overburdened. The changes announced by the Government are necessary and appropriate but are not being backed up by the necessary funding commitment.
Deputy McConalogue said: “The cases detailed in today’s Irish Times, about extremely serious incidents in relation to the care and protection of children going unchecked, are frightening to say the least. We have already seen the comments recently by the HSE’s Head of Child and Family Services, Gordon Jeyes, regarding the need for mandatory reporting of child abuse allegations to be backed up by more than the legislation itself.
“Mr. Jeyes also cast serious doubts over the Government’s ability to manage mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Government’s response to the Cloyne report has hit all the right notes and the clear intent is to increase child protection. The planned legislation for mandatory reporting, the sharing of soft information and the placing of the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing are all to be welcomed and supported. However it is clear now that this Government’s response to the Cloyne report will be judged as hopelessly inadequate unless the appropriate financial and personnel resources are there to back up these measures.
“Responding to the Cloyne report Minister Alan Shatter said “words are not enough.” I said it at the time and I will repeat it again, the Minister is right. This is why I am calling on the Minister for Children Francis Fitzgerald to spell out clearly what extra resources are being put in place in terms of personnel and financial commitment to support mandatory reporting. The number of social workers to be operating in the system this year will ensure that every child in care has a social worker. However these additional appointments were earmarked before the Cloyne report and more resources will be needed to deal with mandatory reporting.
“The Government must be clear on this issue. As we have seen very starkly today, children are waiting for help.”