Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Kathleen Funchion TD has said that the toxic culture of defensiveness within the agency and lack of accountability must be made a key priority for the new CEO in his role of reform.
Speaking today during the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs committee meeting with the new CEO for Tusla, Mr. Bernard Gloster, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD said:
“Given Tusla’s association with multiple national scandals involving children and families over recent years, it is reasonable that elected representatives and the public would question the agency over its effectiveness and transparency. There has been a culture within Tusla since its formation in 2014 to ‘batten down the hatches’ whenever the organisation has come under scrutiny by the Oireachtas and the public.
“This has to change if public confidence in the agency is to be improved.
“Today I raised the issues of the agency’s lack of transparency, lack of accountability and the need for improved communication with families and public representatives. The child’s voice must also always be heard and taken into account in all situations and the protection of vulnerable children and children in State care must be paramount.
“I also raised the issue of birth mothers’ access to their children in care and asked Mr. Gloster would Tusla be open to an independent review process for birth mothers where there was a call for a review. I expressed my concern over the lack of reunification plans for children in care.
“I was pleased to hear from Tusla representatives that since a review of regulations had taken place in light of the Hyde and Seek crèche chain breaches exposed by Primetime Investigates this summer, now under new regulations for the Childcare/Early Years sector, a childcare service that has been shown to have a previous criminal conviction will no longer be able to operate at any future point.
“This is long overdue and should ensure that people who have proven to be unsuitable for the running of a childcare service in the past will be prevented from working in the sector again.
“Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has a long way to go in repairing the damage done to people’s trust in the agency, but I hope that the new incoming CEO will make the reforms that are needed.
“Sinn Féin will continue to highlight our concerns and hope to work with Mr. Gloster to assist in any way that we can to improve Tusla services for children and families.”