Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Questions (516)

John McGuinness


516. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason foster carers are no longer covered by public liability insurance through Tusla; if the cover provided by the HSE before Tusla was established can be extended to all concerned; if Tusla has written to all foster carers advising them of the fact that there is no cover; if Tusla will clarify the position and set out a timeframe within which the matter will be dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20865/18]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy is aware, foster carers are no longer covered by a commercial public liability insurance policy. Attempts by Tusla to secure continuing commercial cover have proved unsuccessful. However, I am pleased to confirm that pending a permanent solution, all foster carers have an indemnity on an individual basis where required. This is on an ex-gratia basis as a temporary measure to address immediate individual cases while the overall indemnification issues are being resolved.

As I have stated previously, I am fully supportive of extending the State Indemnity Scheme under the State Claims Agency to foster parents. Unfortunately, this has taken longer than expected due to technical issues associated with the approvals and statutory process involved, but I can assure the Deputy that work is continuing to address these matters and legal advices are expected shortly. My Department has been in discussion with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the matter, and my intention is to include foster carers under the General Indemnity Scheme operated by the State Claims Agency as soon as possible.

My Department has written to the Irish Foster Carers Association (IFCA) outlining the position and, through the Association, foster carers have been informed as to the current position. A further meeting with the Irish Foster Care Association and officials from my Department was held yesterday at which the most up to date position was presented to the IFCA. In addition, I understand that Tusla will also make publicly available the information provided to IFCA so as to communicate the position to those foster carers who are not members of that association.