Thursday, 28 March 2019

Questions (177)

Bernard Durkan


177. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child abuse cases brought to the attention of her Department or bodies under the remit of her Department in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which a full investigation and remedial action was achieved in respect of each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14661/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise the Deputy, that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is the statutory body with responsibility for child protection services in Ireland. Where I, or my officials, are made aware of child protection concerns, those concerns are referred to Tusla for their appropriate attention.

Table 1 outlines the number of referrals received by Tusla in relation to abuse, for the period of Q1 2016 until Q2 2018*.

Table 1 : Referrals relating to abuse, received by Tusla, Q1 2016-Q2 2018


Referrals relating to abuse







2018 (Q1 + Q2)*


It should be noted that these figures include situations where several referrals may be made in relation to the same child.

Tusla child protection duty social work teams screen each referral to determine whether if it meets the eligibility criteria for Tusla. All urgent cases are assigned immediately to a social worker.

After screening, a duty social worker carries out a preliminary enquiry, gathering information about the referral, to determine whether the report meets the threshold for harm for child protection. If the preliminary enquiry finds that the family would benefit from a welfare support and that a child protection response is not merited, the case could be diverted for a welfare response at this point. The preliminary enquiry also determines the priority status of each case.

Cases that are cannot be immediately allocated to a social worker are overseen by duty social work teams, and about one fifth of cases may be dealt with as “active on duty” where specific actions by the social work team are taking place, including information gathering and visits to see the child.

Tusla collate data on the number of referrals that proceed to preliminary enquiry and initial assessment. Table 2 lays out the number and percentage of referrals that had a preliminary enquiry and initial assessment.

Table 2: Number and percentage of referrals proceeding to preliminary enquiry and initial assessment


Number of referrals that had a preliminary enquiry

Referrals requiring an initial assessment following a preliminary enquiry


17,761 (97%)

9,956 (56%)


18,753 (98%)

10,154 (54%)


20,252 (99%)

9,110 (45%)

2018 ( Q1 + Q2 )**

11,764 (98%)

3,914 (33%)

*Referral data is reported quarterly in arrears.