Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Ceisteanna (196)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

196. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans with regard to recruiting more social workers. [21594/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I acknowledge that the recruitment and retention of social workers is one of the biggest challenges for Tusla, with only 200-250 graduating per year in a very competitive labour market.

I am fully supportive of Tusla’s proactive approach to recruiting, supporting and retaining staff across all grades. In support of this I have provided for a significant increase in Tusla’s funding allocation with an increase of €40.6m in 2018 and a total increase of €144m since its establishment in 2014. Given this level of funding, Tusla expects to increase its total workforce by approximately 422 in 2018 resulting in a total workforce of 4118 whole time equivalents (WTE) by the end of the year.

Given the current limited availability of social work graduates, Tusla expects at least 45 of these staff to be additional social workers. There will also be proactive recruitment of grades such as social care and clerical administration staff to support social workers to ensure that they can focus on their core tasks.

To support Tusla’s ambitious recruitment targets it launched its 2018 graduate recruitment campaign last September. This campaign is currently open for applications with interviews expected to commence in May/June 2018. The campaign included Northern Ireland and Scotland. Continuing Tusla Recruit’s proactive approach of previous years all campuses were visited and over 200 students registered their interest. Tusla Recruit maintains on-going communications with the registered students and partners them through the application and CORU registration process with a view to making Tusla an employer of choice.

Tusla also has an on-going rolling campaign to attract existing social workers who have a particular interest in working in child protection. This campaign is also designed to appeal to social workers who may currently be living abroad and wish to return to or move to Ireland.

I have also asked Tusla to develop a Multi-annual Strategic Workforce Plan for 2019 and beyond to identify the future composition of Tusla’s workforce with regard to delivering on Tusla’s priorities. I expect the Plan to encompass a range of activities aimed at addressing Tusla’s short, medium and long term needs and to manage the current challenges Tusla faces recruiting social workers. The Plan will also form the basis of engaging with key stakeholders such as the education sector to ensure a sustainable supply of social workers in the future.