I understand the Deputy's question relates to referrals made to Tusla and how these are dealt with.
Tusla's response to all reports of child welfare and protection is detailed in the Tusla Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook, which is available on the Tusla website (www.tusla.ie). This covers both the immediate and initial areas of consideration and the various responses Tulsa offer to children and families to ensure child protection and welfare concerns receive the right response at the right time for the right reasons.
A child welfare concern can be a problem experienced directly by a child, or the family of a child, that is seen to impact negatively on the child's health, development and welfare, and that may need assessment and support, but is not presenting as child protection.
A child protection concern arises when there are reasonable grounds for believing that a child may have been or is at risk of being physically, socially or emotionally abused or neglected.
The first consideration when receiving a referral is the immediate safety of the child. All referrals to the Social Work Service of Children and Family Services are screened on the day they are received irrespective of the source.
The Deputy will appreciate that the parents of children referred to Tusla often have serious difficulties themselves. These include problems with addiction, mental health and in many situations, violence in the home. Tusla is dependent, in the main, on services provided by other agencies to assist parents with their difficulties, in order for satisfactory conclusions to be reached regarding the children. Where parents are not in a position to provide safe and appropriate care for the children Tusla may apply to the courts for a care order or may enter into an agreement with the parent for the child to be received into voluntary care.