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