Role of Social Workers and Gardaí
Role of the Child and Family Agency Social Workers
Where a concern about a child’s welfare or protection is reported to the Child and Family Agency by a parent or third party, a child and family social worker will undertake an initial assessment of the needs of the family and individual children. The goal is to provide support to enable the parent to care safely and appropriately for the child and avoid more serious interventions later on. The social worker meets with the child privately as well as in the company of his/her parent(s)/carer(s), and may seek to meet the child’s teacher and other relevant professionals. For more detailed information on social work procedures and practice please see page 43 of the Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook.
Where the Child and Family Agency is concerned that the child is in need of care and protection and is unlikely to receive it at home, the Agency has a duty to ensure they receive appropriate care and may place the child in care by way of a Voluntary Care agreement with the parent(s)/guardian(s) or through a court order (Emergency Care Order, Interim Care Order or Care Order). The HSE reported that of the 2,248 children admitted into care during 2011 that 919 (44.4% of the new admissions) were discharged from care later that year.
Further data relating to children in care is contained here.
Snap shot of monthly and quarterly data is available here.
Where a decision has been made by a parent or the Agency or by the courts that a child is coming into care, the allocated social worker undertakes a full assessment of need, and on this basis the statutory care plan is developed. This assessment may call on a range of professionals where required to set out a comprehensive statement of the child's needs. The care plan also determines the support and interventions needed with regard to the family situation where it is planned that a child will return home. The care plan also indicates the care placement most appropriate to the needs of the child and addresses education, health and contact with parent(s), siblings and extended family.
All care placements are designed to meet the assessed needs of the child coming into care. This requires each child to have an allocated social worker whose statutory duties include:
- the preparation and review of care plans,
- finding appropriate placements for and in consultation with the child,
- consideration of the wishes of the child and family,
- addressing education placement and health needs of the child,
- visits to placements to ensure that it is meeting the child’s needs,
- meeting with child,
- keeping a record /medical assessment; and
- working with child, their family, carer(s) and other significant persons and professionals with a view to planning the child’s future.
Regulations and national standards require the Child and Family Agency to ensure that all children in care have an allocated social worker and a care plan. See also actions 33 and 60 of the Ryan Implementation Plan 2009.
On 31st May 2014 the Child and Family Agency reported that 94% of children in care had an allocated social worker and 89% had a written care plan.
Role of An Garda Síochána
An Garda Síochána has powers under the Child Care Act, 1991 to deliver a child into the custody of the HSE where they have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of the child and that it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of an application for an Emergency Care Order or when a warrant has been issued for An Garda Síochána to search and deliver up a child. The HSE must then apply for an Emergency Care Order within three days of receiving the child into its custody and care, unless it returns the child to its parent(s) or guardian(s).