Written answers

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Child Safety

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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716. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the steps he is taking to ensure uniformity regarding the use and quality of parental capacity assessments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16959/21]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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Where a child has for one reason or another entered the care of Tusla a core feature of the care plan created for the child is the planned reunification with the child's parent/s. This only occurs where it is appropriate and safe to do so. In establishing this a parental capacity assessment is conducted.

Parenting capacity is the ability to parent in a capable manner long term. An individual may be able to parent for a short period of time in specific circumstances (e.g. a supervised visit) and therefore demonstrate parenting ability, but not the parenting capacity to parent effectively over the long term. Key areas of parenting capacity are basic care, ensuring safety, emotional warmth, stimulation, guidance and boundaries, and stability.

The Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook details the approach to conducting an assessment and social workers will have received training in this regard, providing a degree of uniformity and quality to assessments conducted.

In addition Social workers in Tusla are using Signs of Safety as the national approach to practice, and assessments and plans resulting from the assessments have been aligned with that model. This should further ensure a level of consistency between Tusla areas. Of course, no family will receive an identical service as each service should be tailored to meet the needs of the child and family appropriately.

In instances where commissioned assessments, involving professionals outside of the social work team, attachment specialists, independent social workers and psychologists are being developed they too should align with Signs of Safety ensuring a consistent approach to assessments.

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