A key policy objective of the Child and Family Agency is to ensure that the fundamental principles of co-operation and co-ordination in the development and delivery of services are in place.
This objective is reflected and underpinned through formal agreements between the Child and Family Agency and the Health Service Executive, most notably by way of a Joint Protocol for Inter-Agency collaboration. This protocol aims to ensure a consistent national approach to service delivery where the delivery of two or more services is involved in the same case.
The Assessment, Consultation & Therapy Service (ACTS) is a national specialised clinical service which has been developed in order to provide multidisciplinary consultation, assessment and focused interventions to young people who have high risk behaviours associated with complex clinical needs. ACTS also supports other professionals in their ongoing work with young people and their families.
- on-site therapeutic services to young people in secure settings in Ireland (Special Care and the Children Detention Schools)
- support when young people return to community settings to help them to re-engage with mainstream services as appropriate
- assessment, consultation and/or intervention services in the community for children at significant risk of placement in secure settings.
The ACTS model is flexible and focused on complex needs which are often based on the interplay of trauma, dysregulation, developmental and attachment issues. One way that ACTS is different to existing services is that its flexible model allows clinicians to continue working with children when they move from special care placements and detention. This fits with the vision for the new Child and Family Support Agency articulated in the Task Force Report published in July 2012. ACTS also meets the often repeated recommendation in child abuse inquiries for improved interagency working.
ACTS is a multidisciplinary service where clinicians from various disciplines work together and inform collective practice. This includes psychology, social work, speech and language therapy, addiction counselling and social care. ACTS is led by a management team consisting of the national manager and three heads of discipline whose central responsibility is the implementation of systems of clinical governance. This is done through effective planning, implementation and evaluation of treatment programs and protocol driven interventions. It also involves the provision of high quality clinical supervision and monitoring of professional development needs of staff.
ACTS provides multidisciplinary interventions based on evidence, best international practice and in accordance with relevant legislation, policy and guidelines in order to facilitate the provision of more therapeutic environments in the national special care units and children detention schools and to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable young people.
ACTS began operating as a service on the appointment of the national manager in September 2012. Currently the service is led by a management team consisting of the national manager and two heads of discipline. In addition there are now twenty one clinicians in post, where the majority are based in Dublin with two regional teams (of four/five clinicians) in Cork and Limerick. Two further posts have been approved and referred to the national recruitment service to be filled (the principal social work post and an additional speech and language therapy post).