I acknowledge that the recruitment and retention of social workers are among the biggest challenges for Tusla. Working in child protection is one of the most difficult tasks and I welcome the dedication of all professionals in Tusla who undertake this extremely important task.
Tusla has worked hard to retain staff by developing a supportive working environment. Its overall turnover rate for social workers is about 7%, compared with 15% in the equivalent system in England.
As part of its retention strategy, it has implemented an extensive continuous professional development strategy during 2016 and 2017. During 2016 social workers had more than 3,700 training course attendances as part of the strategy which commits to all social workers having a minimum of 21 hours for personal development plans and ten hours for engaging in continuous profession development.
Tusla has also introduced a national transfer policy to facilitate staff who wish to relocate to another part of the country within its services, while ensuring the agency retains their valuable expertise.
health, well-being and employee assistance programme has a range of services available to staff, including a critical incident stress management team to support teams and individuals in the event of an traumatic event. The programme has just completed a staff retention survey and the findings will inform part of the new retention strategy for Tusla.
Other supports for Tusla staff include rehabilitation services to support staff who are out of work owning to injury or illness.
In addition to its retention measures, Tusla is putting a huge emphasis on recruitment. This includes an intensive graduate recruitment programme and a rolling programme to attract existing social workers.
Budget 2018 provides for a significant increase in the funding allocation for Tusla. In 2018 there will be €753 million in funding available to Tusla, representing an increase of €40.6 million or 5.7% on the allocation in 2017. Since the establishment of the agency in 2014, its funding will have increased by €144 million or 23.6% in 2018.