The Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall, has highlighted issues such as long delays and failure to follow procedure in his investigation into how the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) handles complaints about its services, the results of which were published on Tuesday 18th July.
This investigation involved a close examination of nine complaints received by the Ombudsman, in addition to 30 complaint files held by Tusla.
It assessed both how Tusla handled complaints about the services it provides and at the issues which form the subjects of these complaints.
It particularly focused on how Tusla has dealt with complaints about the management of retrospective allegations of child abuse, the handling of current allegations against adults, and at interactions between Tusla and foster carers.
The Ombudsman noted instances where the rights of those accused of abuse were breached, in one case it took five years to clear the name of an accused man.
Speaking at the publication of his investigation report, ‘Taking Stock’, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall stated: “My investigation has found that in some cases there have been serious failings in how Tusla carries out its role. However, Tusla has accepted the findings in my report.
“It has agreed to implement the recommendations which are aimed at improving Tusla’s procedures. Tusla has already started to implement some recommendations and I will closely monitor how they are being implemented”.
The investigation underscored issues such as instances whereby the Tusla social workers lacked empathy and cases where confidential communications were sent to the incorrect address.
The Ombudsman had expressed concern about the handling of some cases by social workers, particularly cases involving historic allegations of abuse, back in 2014.
His Office worked with what was then the recently established Tusla in an effort try to ensure that clear policies and procedures were in place to deal with such cases. However, a variety of complaints continued to be sent to him, calling into question whether his concerns had been properly addressed and prompting this investigation.