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Publication of research report: A study of Tusla - Child and Family Agency’s actions and decision-making process following An Garda Síochána’s application of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991Date Released: 29 April 2021
Publication of research report: A study of Tusla - Child and Family Agency’s actions and decision-making process following An Garda Síochána’s application of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991
The National Research Office and the Office of Services and Integration is delighted to announce the publication of the research report: A study of Tusla - Child and Family Agency’s actions and decision-making process following An Garda Síochána’s application of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 by Dr Carmel Devaney, Dr Rosemary Crosse, Dr Leonor Rodriguez, and Dr Charlotte Silke of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
In 2017, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs requested Tusla – Child and Family Agency, to commission new research into the number of children who have been subject to a Section 12 and reflect the demographic profile by age and location.
The research commission request arose after the publication of ‘Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991’ prepared by Dr Geoffrey Shannon for the Garda Commissioner in 2017. The ‘Shannon Report’ did not audit Tusla’s actions after invoking Section 12, however, a number of the recommendations within the Shannon Report related to Tusla policies and procedures in relation to Section 12 and Section 13 of the Child Care Act 1991.
The main objectives of the research were:
- To identify the pathways for children who have been subject to Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017
- To explore the rationale and decision-making process of social workers in the aftermath of Section 12
- To describe the characteristics of communications between Tusla and An Garda Síochána in relation to Section 12 notifications and follow-ups from the perspective of Tusla social work and Tusla management
- To ascertain the role of the Out-of-Hours Service in Tusla’s response to Section 12
- To examine and determine the circumstances relating to children being removed more than once.
A dataset was collected in Tusla for the purpose of this study, which included anonymised data on 452 Section 12 incidents during the period 1st July 2016 to 30th June 2017. The qualitative data in this study is based on 28 semi-structured interviews with Tusla staff.
We offer our gratitude to all Agency staff who supported the research.
In summary, the research found:
A total of 452 Section 12s relating to 392 children and young people between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 were included in this study. The majority of these children and young people were subject to one Section 12 in this time period. For a majority of these children and young people the need for Section 12 arises from parental issues and behaviours. This evidence suggests a strong need to increase the provision of early intervention parent and family support services for children, young people, and families, to reduce vulnerability and to respond to needs in a timely manner, thus avoiding the need for one or more Section 12s. A vulnerable group identified in the course of this research was young people, specifically those aged 15–17. Such findings necessitate further exploration of the needs of this age group (who have the highest incidence of Section 12s) and provision of appropriate resources and training for staff of both Tusla and An Garda Síochána on responding to the needs of this group.
Significant progress has been made by both Tusla and An Garda Síochána, including:
- A new Joint Protocol has been agreed which strengthens communication, practice and working relationships across both agencies.
- Significant work has been completed or is on-going to increase the number of emergency places available in residential care and a major recruitment campaign for foster carers has contributed to the availability of foster placements.
- No children are being placed in hospital on social admission.
- Safety plans are considering what needs to happen if people are concerned about a crisis arising, and planning for this eventuality so that the risk of a Section 12 removal is minimised.
- Greater consideration to the response to young people who present as very high need and challenging behaviour and this is being considered as part of Corporate Plan 2021-2023
- Early intervention and family support responses in all areas to support families not reaching crisis, which has developed considerably over the past years as part of the PPFS programme.
- A full on call service providing advice and support across the country
- NCCIS for all children now in place across the country and integration with PULSE is being planned to ensure consistency and accuracy of reporting and communication
A specific Action Plan has been developed, which will be implemented across the Agency to support consistency and standardisation of policy and practice.
A full report and executive summnary is available now on the Tusla Research Centre, which will be of interest to policymakers, practitioners, managers and academics. Please take time to read the research and discuss with your colleagues. Feedback, questions or queries can be provided to the National Research Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
To download report in full please visit http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/