Every Child has a legal right to be protected from abuse and neglect, and the State is charged with vindicating that right. While certain progress has been made in child protection, much remains to be done to protect and support vulnerable children and to reduce risk.
The key areas which need to be addressed urgently include:
- Staff vacancies in Social Work departments countrywide must be filled, to ensure that all reports of suspected child abuse are dealt with in a timely manner. Staff vacancies lead to increased problems for children and families at risk and place inappropriate pressure and responsibilities on other agencies supporting families to fulfil protective roles.
- Every child in care must have an allocated social worker. Currently 7% of children in care do not. Having a responsible adult on their side is an essential cornerstone for every child to grow with confidence, and in safety.
- A direct out-of-hours service must be available to children and families, allowing them to have access to a social worker outside of office hours, and without the necessity of recourse to the Gardai.
- Children First Legislation must be enacted with immediate effect to finally place Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing.
- Adequate supervision and support of social workers and support care staff must be provided to ensure that staff do not experience work fatigue or burnout, and that we retain good quality professionals within our system.
If you need advice or support on any of the issues raised above, please call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at email@example.com
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