Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, and if necessary, to receive a child into the care of the State.
A range of care placements are available to meet the needs of children in care. Children and young people, depending on their identified needs, may be placed in foster care, either with relatives or general foster carers, in residential care, or special care. The majority of children are placed in long term stable placements and currently over 92% of children are placed in foster care.
A key part of the social worker role is to ensure the quality and safety of the child's placement, and to meet with the child on a one to one basis on all visits. There are safeguards surrounding each child's care placement, whether foster or residential care and all placements are supervised by a professionally qualified social worker.
There are regular area recruitment campaigns to meet the ongoing need to continue to recruit foster carers as carers retire from fostering. Fostering teams are responsible for the recruitment and assessment of foster carers. When an assessment is complete, a report is presented to the Foster Care Committee who decide whether or not to approve the applicant.
The recruitment and retention of an appropriate range of foster carers is part of Tusla's business plan. Tusla are particularly interested in recruiting foster carers with the skills required to look after children with complex needs, or from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The recently published HIQA overview inspection of Tusla foster care services found that a range of approaches were being employed locally to recruit a wider range of foster carers.
For children who cannot live either at home or in foster care, there are a number of types of residential care settings that may be appropriate, of which secure care is one type.