Social workers’ union welcomes establishment of child and family agency – but warns resources needed for improved services

IMPACT today (Thursday) welcomed the final task force report on establishing the Child and Family Support Agency* and said health and social care professionals looked forward to the establishment of a dedicated agency for child and family welfare as a crucial step towards improving the range and quality of child protection services.

The union, which represents a range of child and family service professionals including social workers and social care staff, said more than 4,000 staff affected are currently implementing the changes required to establish the dedicated agency in January 2013.

But its assistant general secretary Christina Carney warned that adequate resources were required to ensure the maintenance and improvement of services. “It is important to have the best possible structures for service delivery and that’s why we welcome the establishment of a dedicated agency. But resources matter too. There are now fewer social workers in child protection than at the time of the Ryan report. Demand for their services is increasing because of the recession and is likely to jump again when statutory reporting of child abuse comes on stream. It’s vital that the new agency gets the staffing and other resources it needs to genuinely improve the range and quality of child and family services,” she said.

Ms Carney said the union would continue to cooperate with the operational and HR issues that arise from the transfer of over 4,000 child and family protection staff and said the HSE’s National Director of Child and Family Services Gordon Jeyes had given IMPACT a commitment that there would be full consultation and agreement on these matters. IMPACT is signed up to a cooperation agreement that envisages full cooperation with the changes on the basis of full resourcing.

*Links to PDF copy of report

National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children

This week (Wednesday 25th July) also saw the publication of the National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children by the Health Information and Quality Authority. The agency said that the standards “aim to follow a child’s journey within the HSE child protection system to ensure that the child’s safety and welfare is protected.”

Link to HIQA publication