The latest extensive figures from the Minister for Children show that far from the significant increases promised this year, there was actually a slight drop in the number of social workers operating in the State in the first nine months of 2011.
“Every week that slips by without providing these crucial extra social worker posts leaves unacceptable gaps in the system,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“With just five weeks to go until Christmas, there has been woefully little movement on providing the extra 60 social worker posts as recommended by the Ryan reports.
“In fact, the latest definitive figures available from Minister Fitzgerald show there were actually less social workers operating in the State as of the end of September than there were at the end of 2010. The Minister confirmed at as of 30 September 2011 the number of social workers employed in the HSE and HSE funded agencies was 2,429, while the number stood at 2,432 by the end of last year.
“This is a disgrace. On top of this, the HSE is not filling social worker posts left vacant by maternity leave and protracted sick leave. The result is that the already heavily burdened system is under increasing pressure this year, instead of getting the extra resources that were promised this year.
“Swift action is needed to put these extra social workers in place for families and children at risk. The previous Government delivered the extra 200 social workers by the end of last year, as recommended by the Ryan report. This Government promised to honour the commitment to deliver a further 60 by the end of 2011. With the end of the year in sight, communities are now quite rightly wondering, what has happened to that commitment? As recently as November 3rd, the Minister was only able to confirm that a total of four of the promised sixty had taken up their posts.
“It is vulnerable children who are the victims of this unacceptable delay. The Minister has had almost nine months in office now to put these much needed extra social workers in place. The Minister must now move to ensure that all 60 of these extra posts are delivered before the end of this year.”
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