Statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of vulnerable children in Ireland is vested in the Child and Family Agency. The principles underlying this responsibility are outlined in Child Care Act, 1991 as amended. My Department's role is oversight of effective use of resources vis-a-vis statutory responsibilities. The Department is not involved in the day to day running of services
The Agency publishes a range of reports on performance indicators on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Among these indicators is information relating to referral and assessment processes, and numbers of substantiated cases which have led to a child's name being placed on the Child Protection Notification System and having a Child Protection Plan. The Agency also provides an annual Review of Adequacy Report under Section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991. The annual service planning process provides an opportunity to set out service priorities in the context of available resources. In addition, information is provided to me by the Agency on specific issues as required or to inform me of policy or legislative issues arising in the services.
This oversight function is exercised through a range of interactions with officials in the Agency. Among the more formal engagements are regular meetings between myself and the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency along with our respective senior management teams. Officials from my Department also meet formally on a quarterly basis with their counterparts in the Agency to discuss Performance Indicators and to seek in general to maintain and where possible improve the service provided by the Agency to the wider public. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspect Agency services for children in care and at risk, and publish reports of their findings. There are regular and ongoing meetings between my Department and HIQA where HIQA report on their monitoring of services for children at risk.