Strategic Review of Children and Family Services - June 2010

A priority for the HSE is to modernise the way its Children and Family Services are planned and delivered so that, within the resources available we can meet all the regulatory and statutory requirements and provide a quality and effective service.

Strategic Review of Management of Children and Family Services
This review commissioned in October 2009, to complement the recommendations of the Task Force Report, provides the other key element required for the change process. This review assessed current structures under a number of headings including:- management and governance in the context of being fit for purpose; ensuring and supporting best practice; facilitating public accountability; supporting effective interdisciplinary & interagency relationships; and consistency with international best practice with regard to Child Protection, assessment and intervention.

Children First clearly indicates that the protection of children is everybody's Business. However, social work professionals are the spine of the service as key professionals engaging with children and their families and so our findings relate mainly to this profession and to the management structure.
The key messages arising from this strategic review is that there are significant and in many cases unnecessary variations across LHOs in how Children First is being managed and delivered. This review also states that "there is no quick fix to address the management and delivery issues identified in this report. Strengthening the spine of the service will require change across a number of areas."

The key components of this strategic response are:

  • Simplifying and streamlining the organisational structure for the delivery of the service to make it clearer and more accountable.
  • Developing an evidenced based service delivery system.
  • The implementation of formal child protection protocols to ensure standardised and consistent practice across the country (Task Force Report);
  • The implementation of the National Child Care Information System;
  • The implementation of the recommendations of the HSE's Strategic Review of the Delivery and Management of Children and Family Services;
  • The recruitment of 200 additional social work staff and 65 related child care staff; and
  • The implementation of the recommendations of the National Foster Care Audit.

Given the significant breadth and depth of this change programme, which involves major change in how our social care staff work and are managed, this change programme is being rolled out in a measured and planned way and will be undertaken in 2010 and 2011.

This programme provides a challenge for HSE Children and Family Social Services to begin a process of change and development whereby the existing statutory requirement to provide safeguarding and alternative care services is maintained while, at the same time, a new and overarching emphasis is placed upon the primary need to support families through the provision of comprehensive child care services.

This change process is putting in place the structures, services, staffing, systems and standardised protocols required to ensure the provision of effective and high quality statutory child care services.

Publications and reports