21st April 2008
The Health Service Executive (HSE) today pointed to significant investment in childcare services in recent years and dismissed claims that these services are compromised.
Section 8 of the Child Care Act, 1991 requires the HSE to annually prepare a Report on the adequacy of the child care and family support services in its area. This is a statutory requirement which is unique within the health services to child care and is part of an extensive regulatory regime which ensures effective governance of services for vulnerable children and families. Child care and family support services provided by the HSE are subject to a rigorous regime of Inspection and monitoring by monitoring officers and by the Social Services Inspectorate.
"The function of the Review of Adequacy Report is to identify areas of services where changes or improvements could be made in order to further enhance the level of service provision. In this respect, it is an important part of our planning process. However, it does not provide a stand-alone picture of our childcare services and it would be wrong to take this review in isolation to represent our current childcare services." emphasised Mr Aidan Waterstone, Specialist Officer in Childcare Services, HSE.
In all cases where there is a serious and immediate risk to the health or welfare of the child, the HSE responds immediately and takes appropriate action.
All child abuse reports to social work departments are subject to a phased process of initial screening and assessment and appropriate interventions are provided.
Considerable increases in resources for child care and family support services have continued in recent years with an additional 335 social work posts created since 2005 (to end of 2007) and an increase in funding of family support services of 79% since 2003 (from €45.7m to €81.8m in 2008).
This reflects the commitment of the HSE to the on-going implementation of the National Children's Strategy and the Agenda for Children's Services. The focus of child care services since the 1990s on child protection is now being complemented by a focus on community based family support services. For example the HSE is currently developing a specialised treatment fostering service for children with the most challenging behaviour as an alternative to residential care. The first such service ( Treo Nua ) is up and running in the Midlands and the second is underway in North Dublin; two further services are in the planning stages.
The HSE will continue to monitor and review its services for children and families in order to ensure that the most effective and evidence based services are provided and that resources are applied to greatest effect.
Alex Connolly, Head of Press and Media Relations
Health Service Executive
(01) 6352840 (087) 6184450
Last updated on: 21 / 04 / 2008