Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD has expressed serious concern following the revelation that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has identified evidence of significant risks in how referrals were managed in the child welfare and protection service in the Laois / Offaly area.
Deputy Troy made the comments after Minister for Health James Reilly stated that there is an unassessed backlog of referrals at the agency.
“It has come to my attention that a significant number of cases relating to the welfare and protection of children have yet to be assessed by Tusla. The Minister has been unable to quantify the number of files that remain unassessed other than that it is in the hundreds” said Deputy Troy.
“We do not know what information is contained in these files, and there is a possibility that vulnerable children are at a significant risk.
“The Minister must outline precisely how many cases remain unassessed by Tusla and how long it will take for the backlog to be cleared. It is not possible to say that no child is at risk so long as this backlog continues to exist.
“It is a cause of huge concern to think that this backlog of cases was allowed to build up over an extended period of time, and that the problem was not identified until a significant backlog had accumulated.
“This situation clearly shows that there is insufficient staff at Tusla to deal with the amount of referrals that the agency is having to deal with. There was a commitment by the Government to increase the number of staff but this has not been delivered, and it has only added to the problem over time.
“Fianna Fáil has been consistently highlighting that there is a lack of resourcing for Tusla and that this is putting vulnerable children at risk. It should not take a serious breakdown of the referral system before the Minister sits up and pays attention.
“The Minister needs to be forthcoming with the number of cases that remain unassessed, and as to whether there are any other similar backlogs that have accumulated anywhere else in the country. The welfare of children cannot be put at risk” said Deputy Troy.