HIQA undertook an inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus in March 2017. The Deputy is referring to a statement in the Report of the finding of that inspection. This stated that there were three formal reports to Tusla for which no acknowledgements were received.
I am advised that the reports referred to were sent to Tusla in accordance with procedures in existence at the time. Acknowledgments were not routinely issued to all reports. Prior to the HIQA inspection of Oberstown at which this matter was raised, Oberstown management met with Tusla management to discuss the issue of a protocol setting out how both agencies will work together on a range of issues. This included the procedures for reporting child protection and welfare concerns to Tusla. I am advised that there are ongoing discussions with management at Oberstown and Tusla regarding this protocol.
While the draft protocol includes procedures in relation to reporting child protection and welfare concerns, it is important to note that procedures have changed since December 11th 2017 when I commenced the Children first Act 2015. It is now the case that mandated reporters are required to make their reports in writing. They also have a legal entitlement to an acknowledgement. Tusla has an online portal in place for the receipt of mandated reports.
Mandated reporters can register on the Tusla website and are then in a position to submit reports directly to Tusla via the portal. The portal is an efficient and accessible way of ensuring that reports of child abuse can be generated as efficiently as possible, including all the relevant information, and can be sent without delay to Tusla.