I propose to take Questions Nos. 494 and 495 together.
I can confirm that I have recently received the report “ABC Alliance of Birth Mothers Campaigning for Justice The triad Rules Tusla, Family Law Courts, An Garda Síochána”. I have not been in contact with Tusla, at this time, in relation to the report but officials in my Department have read the report and have provided me with the following update in relation to same.
The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to Tusla, An Garda Síochána and the Family Law Courts. Recommendations concerning the latter two bodies are a matter, as the Deputy will be aware, for my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.
The report makes some recommendations regarding Tusla including (i) having an outside body established to hold Tusla to account; (ii) rectifying difficulties in relation to hiring and retaining staff; and (iii) the timely response to FOI requests.
In relation to the first recommendation, it should be noted that the Health Information and Quality Authority is an independent body, established by the Health Act 2007, which inspects Tusla services against relevant statute (both primary and secondary) as well as agreed standards. Reports of their findings are published regularly on their website.
Tusla is proactively working on the challenges associated with the hiring and retention of staff. To this end it has established Tusla Recruit (in 2016) to assist in the recruitment and retention of qualified and experienced staff; it is in the process of developing multi-year workforce planning and is currently working with Third Level Institutions to provide additional study places for key Tusla grades. In addition, Tusla hosted its first ever national recruitment open day to hire additional social work staff in June 2019.
Finally, in common with all bodies to whom the Freedom of Information Act applies, Tusla is bound by the requirements and timescales as set out in that Act.