Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte says she was alarmed to learn that the Children’s Minister does not know how many social workers are in the system.  Deputy Rabbitte submitted a Parliamentary Question to Minister Zappone on the issue and was told “The information requested is not readily available in my Department”.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “The fact that the Minister or her Department does not have information on the number of social workers in the system to hand is extremely worrying.  The shortage of social workers has been highlighted time and time again and the Minister set recruitment targets for Tusla only last year.  Why are these not being monitored?

“Anyone who has any dealing with social services is well aware of the extensive backlogs in the system, and the fact that many areas still do not have a proper out of hour’s service.  These staff shortages are having a major impact on the most vulnerable children in our society and every effort should be made to recruit additional social workers.  There are thousands of children, some of which are deemed “high priority”, still waiting for their case to be allocated to a social worker.  This is completely unacceptable.

“More than €6m euro was allocated to Tusla last year for the sole purpose of recruiting 168 social workers in 2016.  A further 135 posts are to be filled this year.  However, the Minister was unable to confirm how many social workers are currently employed by Tusla.

“I am calling on Minister Zappone to address these staffing issues as a matter of urgency.  Vulnerable children are being put at risk because of the failure of Government to act to recruit essential staff.  This cannot continue and I am urging the Minster to liaise with Tusla without delay and ensure that the recruitment targets are being met”.