The Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has failed to implement the Ryan Report recommendations on filling crucial front-line social worker posts, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson Children Charlie McConalogue.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy McConalogue questioned Frances Fitzgerald about why there are less social workers in place now than when the Minister took up office. That’s despite the Ryan Report recommendation for 60 extra social workers last year on top of the 200 extra posts provided in 2010.
“I have questioned Minister Fitzgerald about this repeatedly over the past year and each time she has promised that she is recruiting more social workers. But yet there are still 35 less social workers in place now than when the Minister took up office. Instead of filling the gaps in the system as recommended by the Ryan report, even more gaps have emerged on Minister Fitzgerald’s watch,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“The Minister’s excuses about social workers retiring, taking maternity leave or going abroad are simply not good enough. The same challenges apply to every workplace and should not pose long-term difficulties if adequate resources are in place. The Minister still won’t commit to a time-frame for filling the required new posts and she has also refused to commit to back-filling vacant posts, instead leaving it to the HSE to decide.
“What is even more worrying is that this seriously under resourced system will be under even more pressure as a result of mandatory reporting. It is widely accepted that this will lead to a significant increase in reports of child abuse. So far Minister Fitzgerald has avoided acknowledging the impact this will have on the system, and is pushing ahead without first providing the necessary resources to ensure that every report can be dealt with thoroughly and in a timely fashion.
“Newspaper reports today revealed the high levels of burn out among child protection staff, with the HSE’s National Director of Child and Family Services Gordon Jeyes explaining that child protection workers cannot do everything currently expected of them. The delays in providing the necessary extra resources are inexcusable.
“I am calling on the Minister to give an honest appraisal of the impact of mandatory reporting on the child protection system and to commit to providing the resources needed to deal with the likely increase in reporting.”