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Minister Zappone welcomes progress made by Tusla in implementing HIQA's recommendations

Tuesday 9th April 2019

Minister Zappone has welcomed the publication of a second progress report by the Expert Assurance Group (EAG) on steps taken by Tusla to implement HIQA’s recommendations from the authority’s statutory investigation.  

The EAG notes that the bulk of the work to address the recommendations falls to Tusla and its Executive is applying considerable resources and attention to the key issues.  

Minister Zappone said, “The Expert Assurance Group’s second quarterly report outlines further progress, particularly in the implementation of the child protection practice ‘Signs of Safety’. There is more work to be done but the direction is generally positive.”

A key area where progress is being made is the management of referrals. ‘Signs of Safety’ is driving a significant change here and there is clear evidence that it is being implemented. Staff have welcomed the initiative, finding it a more positive and successful way of working with families where there are serious concerns regarding child protection.  

The report recognises that recruitment continues to be a challenge and the EAG looks forward to the finalisation of Tusla’s workforce strategy and implementation plan.

The EAG's report comments that there is a large degree of change being demanded of Tusla across its full range of services and this must be managed carefully.  The consolidation and the embedding of Tusla's policies is essential.  

The Minister added, “I met with the EAG’s Chair, Dr Moling Ryan, where he highlighted the actions where there has been good progress, and the actions which need to make additional progress in the coming months.  The engagements by the EAG with Tusla have been both direct and productive.”

The second quarterly report of the Expert Assurance Group is available on the DCYA website.


Notes for Editors

In March 2017, Minister Zappone asked HIQA to undertake a statutory investigation into Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The investigation team visited 6 Tusla areas and the Sexual Abuse Regional Team (SART) in the Dublin North East Region. Cavan/Monaghan was one of the areas visited. HIQA’s report, published in June 2018, identified risks within Tusla’s systems for managing referrals, safety planning and managing retrospective cases. HIQA made four key recommendations, one of which was the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group to support and advise Tusla’s implementation of the recommendations.

The Chair of the expert quality assurance and oversight group, referred to as the Expert Assurance Group (EAG), was appointed by Minister Zappone on 29 of June 2018. Its full membership was appointed the following month and encompasses a wide range of expertise:

  • Dr Moling Ryan, Chair;
  • Dr Helen Buckley, Fellow Emeritus at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin;
  • Ms Michele Clarke, Chief Social Worker, Department of Children and Youth Affairs;
  • Mr Andrew Lowe, Public Policy Consultant;
  • Dr Conor O'Mahony, Lecturer in Law, University College Cork; 
  • Mr Gerry Verschoyle, HR Consultant.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs accepted the recommendations contained in the HIQA report, as published on 14 June 2018, in particular recommendation 4 which is the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group (the EAG) to support and advise on the implementation of the remaining recommendations from the report:

  • Recommendation 1: Tusla Action Plan.
  • Recommendation 2: Educational Pathway for Social Workers and an Operational Review (Workforce Plan).
  • Recommendation 3: International Review of Best Practice in the Regulation of Children’s Social Services.

The EAG agreed at an early stage that the Third Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal, which was published in October 2018, should also be part of its consideration.