Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health, Disabilities and Special Needs, Colm Keaveney TD, says that Children’s Minister James Reilly must get a grip on the ongoing crisis in the availability of social workers.
The Child and Family Agency has reported that over 9,000 instances of abuse or neglect involving children are awaiting a social worker to be assigned to the case.
He commented: “The lack of social workers to deal with instances of abuse or neglect in Ireland is a recurring issue and it needs to be addressed. The fact that the number of cases awaiting the allocation of a social worker is heading for 10,000 is deeply disturbing.
“There is no doubt that a lack of social workers is leaving children in vulnerable situations and putting them at greater risk.
“From our own contacts with social workers we know that the circumstances for staff are bleak. Social workers are extremely worried about the welfare of the children that are already in the service or have been newly referred to it. This stems from the fact that the number of referrals in relation to suspected child abuse have increased steadily over recent years.
“If we are to be serious about child protection this crisis must be addressed urgently. The Children First legislation is before the Dáil and if that if to be effective when it is passed, it needs the resources to back it up.”