Young people in Wicklow left without social workers

Recent Tusla figures have shown that almost two-thirds of children in some of the most deprived areas of Leinster have yet to be allocated social workers.

The child and family agency, Tusla, have found that almost two-thirds of children living in the Southeast of Ireland have not been allocated social workers to help tackle their individual needs yet.

In a report given to People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, Tusla found that almost one in five social worker posts have been left unfilled, with the rising cost of living as well as rental costs making it difficult for professionals to take up places in some of the more disadvantaged areas in Dublin.

These most recent figures show that of 5,597 children in care at the end of January, 873 were still awaiting social workers. By the end of April, 208 or 1,795 social worker posts had yet to filled.

In a letter to Murphy, Tusla said that there were “dedicated duty teams” meeting with children, and that these teams “undertake actions to progress the protection and welfare concerns of those cases.”

PBP TD Paul Murphy said “It’s scandalous that so many young people in care are being left without social workers.

Investment is needed in the upcoming budget to ensure that social workers are recruited and retained and that young people get the care that they need and deserve.

Of the Dublin/Mid-Leinster area, 1,292 were in care and 21.5% of them were still waiting to be seen by a social worker. Children in these areas were also at greater risk of not being allocated a social worker, especially in areas of high deprivation such as Jobstown, Clondalkin, and Ballinascorney.

Former district court judge, Demot Simms, wrote a letter to the government informing them that if this crisis were to be left to worsen, then this could lead to an unprecedented amount of claims against the state.

In the letter from May 2023, Dermot Simms said he had the “utmost concern for the immediate predicament and welfare of children… in the care of the State”.

There is the risk, or indeed likelihood, that the State will face claims in the future arising out of its failure to comply adequately with its duty of care and statutory duty to many of these children.

The interim chief executive of Tusla, Kate Duggan, has said that the agency were facing great challenges which include an increasing referral rate, a low supply of emergency and alternative care placements, and an increase in the number of seperated children seeking international protection.

The agency have undertaken extensive recruitment campaigns and engaged with higher education bodies in order to improve graduate supply. They have also increased their administration capacity in order to take further pressure from their current workforce of social workers while they engage with the children who so desperately need them.

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