I was pleased to secure an additional €40.6 million for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in 2018. This is the third year in succession that Tusla has received a significant increase in its funding, which now amounts to over €753m.
I strongly support the work of Tusla, and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of all children and families.
The extra resources secured for Tusla in 2018 will assist in meeting key priorities. The additional investment will allow Tusla to recruit a range of additional staff to respond to areas of identified risk, and to meet increased demand for services, including an anticipated increase in referrals following the introduction of mandatory reporting.
This increase in funding is also enabling the further management of unallocated cases. In addition, Tusla is in the process of recruiting more administrative staff to support social workers in their child protection duties.
In 2018, funding is also being used to establish a single national out-of-hours social work service, building on significant progress made in recent years in strengthening this service. The extra resources will also support enhanced collaboration with An Garda Síochána, additional on-call social work capacity and a new out-of-hours support service for foster carers.
I have requested Tusla to develop a robust workforce plan which addresses succession planning, retention, career pathways, training and development, future workforce needs, priority gaps and a strategy for tackling the priority gaps. The workforce plan will be a key part of dealing with a rise in referrals due to mandatory reporting, and in helping to reduce unallocated cases.
I believe that the level of Exchequer funding of over €753m in 2018 provides Tusla with resources to significantly increase its capacity to respond to areas of identified risk and anticipated demand.
The introduction of mandated reporting will no doubt bring challenges, but the resources to help Tusla deal with these challenges are in place. Tusla can, I believe, progress a number of key service developments which will ensure better outcomes for vulnerable children, and families, who need our services and support.