Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that investment in Tusla services in Dublin South West and across the state must be a priority for the Government in Budget 2024 after a report into local services from Tusla showed a chronic understaffing level that has left children in very serious situations waiting months for a social worker to be assigned to them.

Teachta Crowe said:

“At the Oireachtas Health Committee this week which I chair, I had the opportunity to ask Hiqa directly about a report they issued in July of this year where they stated that services provided by Tusla in the Dublin South West and Kildare/West Wicklow areas were dealing with a ‘chronic shortfall’ of staff. The services were deemed non-compliant with a series of standards, including ‘timely access to child protection and welfare services that support the family and protect the child’.

“These failures in the provision of Tusla services in the Dublin South West should be treated extremely seriously as it has left children in severe need of protection and welfare services languishing on waiting lists as there as not nearly enough social workers to take on their cases. These cases include instances of sexual assault, physical abuse, and environments of serious domestic violence.

“When I put these questions to Hiqa officials in the Health Committee, they confirmed that this situation is replicated across up to 50% of areas and has been gradually getting worse over the past 18 months. Hiqa have created a national improvement plan but we need the social workers to implement that plan.

“Resourcing and staffing of Tusla services towards a long-term expansion of their ability to provide services must be a priority for the Government in Budget 2024. We are failing children in desperate circumstances by leaving them in danger because we do not have an adequate number of social workers to investigate their care. That is not acceptable when we talk about budget surpluses in the tens of billions.”