Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD has welcomed the publication of the revised Children First Guidelines, which follows on from a commitment contained in the Ryan Report Implementation Plan.
However, he expressed his concern that the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has not identified any additional funding to support the decision to place the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing.
Deputy McConalogue told donegaldaily.com: “I welcome the publication of the revised Children First 2011 National Guidelines by the Minister today.
“However, I do have genuine concerns that there will be a need for more social workers and more financial and administrative resources to give effect to the legislation that will enshrine Children First in law.”
The Donegal Fianna Fail TD warned: “There will clearly be a need for more social workers, over and above the 270 committed to in the Ryan Report Implementation Plan; 200 of these posts were filled last year and this number was the minimum estimated to ensure that each child in the care of the state would have a social worker assigned to them and a care plan in place.
“The new Children First framework will carry a greater burden that will have to be addressed by increased resources. It is worrying that the Minister failed to make any new commitment today in terms of the provision of additional resources.
“International research indicates that when you move from a voluntary reporting system to a form of mandatory reporting there is an inevitable increase in the level of allegations, many of which will be unsubstantiated but have to be investigated nonetheless.
“There are also concerns that the current structures in place wouldn’t be able to cope with any large increase in the volume of reports.
The local TD added: “Unless the Government is serious about properly financing these additional protections, there is a real danger that the system will not be able to cope and we will not be assured that reports are properly acted upon in a timely manner to protect children. In that context, I would ask the Minister what discussions she has had at Cabinet level about ensuring there are sufficient resources put in place to support Children First.”