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Minister Fitzgerald welcomes independent inspections of child protection and welfare services

25th February 2013

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has today welcomed the announcement by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of its new inspection and monitoring regime for Ireland’s child protection and welfare services.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “While foster care services have previously been inspected, now for the first time, social work services in the area of child protection and welfare will also be subject to independent inspection and monitoring.”

Last July, Minister Fitzgerald joined with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD to launch Ireland’s first HIQA ‘National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children’

The Minister stated “We are effectively building a new architecture for child protection. The National Standards which the Taoiseach & I launched last July set out, for the first time ever, the key features of an effective child protection service.”

“Enforcing a new standards-led approach is central to fostering a new culture of quality, effectiveness and accountability in our child protection system.”

Minister Fitzgerald commented that today’s announcement regarding independent inspections and monitoring is a welcome step forward and will ensure that the new standards are being implemented and complied with.

“From now on, HIQA will constantly and consistently monitor and interrogate the services being provided to our nation’s children.  Compliance against national standards will be tested, checked, assessed and audited.”

The Minister added that “HIQA inspections will reveal further failings, which is good, because we cannot fix what we cannot see.”

“We are involved in an ambitious and comprehensive reform of Ireland’s child protection system. We have had a shameful legacy, recounted in 17 major statutory reports since 1980 on child protection failings, the most recent being the Report of the Independent Child Death Review.

“You cannot come from a place of under-resourcing, incoherent and unaccountable structures, fragmentation and dysfunction; and suddenly expect to emerge as a perfect system.”

“The reality of ongoing challenges is not to be hidden. It is not to be excused or explained away. Doing things differently must mean pro actively identifying failures; naming them; and correcting them.”

HIQA today announced that through its new inspection and monitoring regime, it will:
• Assess if the HSE Children and Family Services has all the elements in place to safeguard children and young people;
• Establish if failure to have these elements in place poses a serious risk to the children receiving these services;
• Identify and report on areas of good practice which protect children and promote their welfare, whilst respecting and upholding their rights;
• Seek assurances from the HSE that they are safeguarding children through the mitigation of serious risks;
• Inform the public and promote confidence through the publication of the Authority’s findings.

The first inspection report relating to Children and Family Services in Carlow/Kilkenny is due shortly.


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