Critically discuss the impact of the introduction of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, on residential care services in Ireland.
This essay will look at the impact of the introduction of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, on residential services in Ireland. At the beginning of 2014 the Child and Family Agency became an autonomous legal body, consisting of HSE Children and Family Services, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board. This also embodied some psychological services and an assortment of services surrounding domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (Tusla, 2014).
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The Child and Family Agency is currently the devoted state agency in charge of improving prosperity and results for children in Ireland. It conveys the largest extensive amendment of child safety, early intervention and family support services ever launched in Ireland (Tusla, 2014). The Child and Family Agency Act 2013 governs over this Agency, it is an enlightened piece of legislation with children at the core and the family system seen as the base of a secure community where children can grow. A key part to this Act is that there is organisation and assistance in the distribution of consistent services to children and families (Tusla, 2014).
The formation of this Agency conveys the contingency to consider seeking the utmost efficient way of working unitedly to distribute a vast dimension of services for children and families. The Agency encourages where appropriate, to conceive different ideas and behave differently (Tusla, 2014). Preceding the date of formation, there was conferences across the board with stakeholders in order to hold the aspirations and fears in reference to the new Child and Family Agency. There was a large quantity who held the perspective that simple changeover and the combination of a collection of services would not suffice to distribute on the new beginning throughout the sector (Tusla, 2014). The thought surrounding this new Agency was that it required a brand-new existence which incorporates a new feeling of functionality incorporated by all those involved in delivering children and family services (Tusla, 2014).
Many themes arose upon examining the desires for the agency, such as “a fresh start, an opportunity, a challenge” (Tusla, 2014). The name Tusla arose after deliberation as the chosen logo for the Child and Family Agency. Tusla is an original word “reflecting a shared desire for a new beginning, forging a new identity” (Tusla, 2014).
Due to the Child and Family Act 2013 the Child and Family Agency is ensured with – assisting and advertising the growth, well-being and conservation of children, and the efficient operations of families (Tusla, 2014). They provide care and protection for children in situations where their parents are unable or unwilling to implement the care that is necessary for a child. For these responsibilities to be released, the Agency is ordered to manage and advance the services in order to distribute these supports to children and families (Tusla, 2014). They also provide particular services for the psychological care also.
They consult with children and families so that they might aid in developing the policies held in the Agency and the services provided. They assure that the care and safety of the child guide all decisions affecting individual children (Tusla, 2014). They are responsible for entrusting that all children attend school or receive some form of education. They must monitor children’s attendance and participation (Tusla, 2014). They must advise and provide information where needed.
The Child and Family Agency is devoted to safeguarding that children and young people are promoted to live at home with their family members, close to friends and their schools and inside their communities (Tusla, 2014). The Child and Family Agency will only proceed with taking children and young people into care when it has constructed the impression that for the foreseeable future, their health, development or care cannot be guaranteed (Tusla, 2014).
The process for taking children and young people into care can either occur by Social Workers and the parents involved agreeing or not agreeing. If it is the latter then the social worker must apply to the courts for a Care Order to ensure the safety and care of the young person or child involved (Tusla, 2014). Upon this occurrence, they will initially try to place the child or young person in relative foster care or foster care placement but if these are unavailable, they will be placed in Children’s Residential Services. The statistics are that one in twenty are placed in residential care (Tusla, 2014).
The goal of Children’s Residential Services is to implemtent a “physically, emotionally and psychologically” (Tusla, 2014) secure place where children and young people can grow, heal and proceed into the future. Although the children and young people placed in Resdiential Care Services are there due to family issues and possibly neglect or forms of abuse (Tusla, 2014). A large proportion of children or young people placed in residential care are there because their behaviour is challenging and needs to be managed in a different setting to foster care (Tusla, 2019).
A portion of young people seem to choose Residential Care as they prefer not to live with any family other than their own. They can also be placed here due to social workers and the family having discussions as to the future needs of the child or young person and where to proceed to (Tusla, 2014). According to statistics, over ninety per cent of the Children’s Residential Centres are community based which implies they are in regular house, housing estates and the general public community. Generally, the residential centres are provided with the similar health services for the rest of the population such as psychologists, psychiatrists etc (Tusla, 2014). The difference in Residential services is that they are staffed 24/7 by Social Care Workers, Managers and Leaders and they are further aided by “external Managers, Social Work Services, Inspectors etc” (Tusla, 2014).
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When the behaviour of the children and young people in Children’s Residential Services continues to be destructive and putting themselves and others at risk and there is an agreement with the staff, managers and social workers agree that they cannot supply anymore care, a referral is made to the National Special Care Service (Tusla, 2014). The Special Care Centres are referred to as ‘Units’ and are objectively developed buildings catered to allow children and young people to be confined when the High Court and National Special Care Committee contemplate if a child or young person needs Special Care and Protection (Tusla, 2014).
Special care placements have time-limited and intensive support with on-site education and professional training, a psychology service, and comprehensive care and intervention programs to support the return of children and young residents to the Community Centres of the Child and Family Agency, foster care or home (Tusla, 2014). An extremely limited number of children and youth each year are placed abroad to secure that their exceptional needs can be met. This happens for several reasons, but in general it is because children and young people at interest, need very specialized interventions; evaluation and safe treatments of mental health; or longer detention periods than is possible now within the Irish system (Tusla, 2014).
The requirements for the placement of a child in a child-care centre and the operation of these centres are set out in the 1995 Child Care (Institutional) Regulations. All Children’s Residential Centres are subject to legal inspection (Tusla, 2014). The Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services of the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) performs this function. HIQA inspects and registers legal childcare centres (Child and Family Agency). The Child and Family Agency inspects and registers volunteer and private (for-profit) childcare centres (Tusla, 2014).
The regulatory framework underpinning this work is established in the Child Care Regulations of 1995. As a surplus, the National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres (2001) are in force and based on the requirements of the legislation and the results of the investigation. The rules allow inspectors to get an idea of the quality of the services provided in these centres (Tusla, 2014). The purpose of the monitoring process is to reinforce function and the highest standards of care, and to advertise the rights and well-being of young people at all times as the most important (Tusla, 2014). The process of evaluating standards of care in the centres is carried out through the collection of information through interviews and meetings with the centre administration, staff members and young people, the analysis of the files and centre records and contacts with other professionals considered relevant by the screening officer (Tusla, 2014).
When a follow-up visit generates a written report, it is distributed as a project to the management of the center and to the line managers for the discussion and clarification of the issues raised. A final copy is then distributed to the appropriate persons within the Child and Family Agency and to the appropriate inspection services (Tusla, 2014). After notification of serious incidents, the screening officer may contact the centre to analyse the information acquired and may also make suggestions for immediate change to ensure compliance with the regulations and policies of the Child and Family Agency and best child-care practices (Tusla, 2014).
In conclusion, the impact of the introduction of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, has had positive results on the residential care services. It has improved the efficiency and standards greatly and will hopefully continue to benefit the children and young people who avail of it.
- Tusla, 2014. Residential Care [Online] Available at: https://www.tusla.ie/services/alternative-care/residential-care/what-about-the-children-and-young-people-who-have-even-greater-needs/ [Accessed 12 August 2019].
- Tusla, 2014. About Us [Online] Available at: https://www.tusla.ie/services/alternative-care/residential-care/what-about-the-children-and-young-people-who-have-even-greater-needs/ [Accessed 12 August 2019].
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