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Press Release

Minister Zappone welcomes publication of the Expert Assurance Group’s Final Report

Published: 27 January 2020
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has today welcomed the publication of the final progress report by the Expert Assurance Group (EAG) on steps taken by Tusla to implement actions following on from HIQA’s Statutory Investigation.

The Minister said:

“I welcome the EAG's final report, which outlines the progress that has been made by Tusla across a range of reforms in response to HIQA’s findings and four key recommendations. There is clear evidence of positive momentum.”

In its statutory investigation, HIQA identified three areas for urgent attention by Tusla: screening and preliminary enquiry; safety planning; and the management of retrospective allegations. The EAG noted considerable progress in respect of screening and preliminary enquiries, and in safety planning. Four regional retrospective teams have been established to manage retrospective cases of alleged abuse. A new operational policy, National Child Abuse Substantiation Procedures (CASP), has been finalised and training for its implementation is underway.

The actions on Tusla’s workforce strategy and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) social work educational pathways are in place and the EAG report urged ongoing prioritisation of these issues. An international review of best practice in the regulation of children's services have been satisfactorily completed by the DCYA.

The EAG also recommended that a governance arrangement is put in place by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on the key areas that Tusla will continue to embed over the next 12 months.

Minister Zappone also noted:

“I am satisfied that the report demonstrates sufficient evidence of progress and that the planned outcomes are on track to being realised. I wish to thank the Chair and the members of the Expert Assurance Group for the huge commitment and dedication that they have given this really important process.”

The EAG’s final report is available on the DCYA website.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

In March 2017, Minister Zappone asked HIQA to undertake a statutory investigation into Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The investigation team visited 6 Tusla areas and the Sexual Abuse Regional Team (SART) in the Dublin North East Region. Cavan/Monaghan was one of the areas visited. HIQA’s report, published in June 2018, identified risks within Tusla’s systems for managing referrals, safety planning and managing retrospective cases. HIQA made four key recommendations, one of which was the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group to support and advise on the implementation of the recommendations.

The Chair of the expert quality assurance and oversight group, referred to as the Expert Assurance Group (EAG), was appointed by Minister Zappone on 29 of June 2018. Its full membership was appointed the following month and encompassed a wide range of expertise:

  • Dr Moling Ryan, Chair
  • Dr Helen Buckley, Fellow Emeritus at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin
  • Ms Michele Clarke, Chief Social Worker, Department of Children and Youth Affairs
  • Dr Conor O'Mahony, Lecturer in Law, University College Cork, and Special Rapporteur on Child Protection
  • Mr Gerry Verschoyle, HR Consultant
  • Mr Andrew Lowe, Public Policy Consultant

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs accepted the recommendations contained in the HIQA report, as published on 14 June 2018, in particular recommendation 4 which is the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group (the EAG) to support and advise on the implementation of the remaining recommendations from the report:

  • Recommendation 1: Tusla Action Plan
  • Recommendation 2: Educational Pathway for Social Workers and an Operational Review (Workforce Plan)
  • Recommendation 3: International Review of Best Practice in the Regulation of Children’s Social Services

The EAG agreed at an early stage that the Third Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal, which was published in October 2018, should also be part of its consideration.

The EAG have previously published three quarterly reports on the DCYA website.

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