HSE Defends Allegations On Childcare Under funding

The Health Service Executive has today defended itself amid accusations its funding and staffing for childcare services is insufficient.

Current affairs television programme, Prime Time Investigates, highlighted the impact of the HSE's recruitment embargo and employment controls on services available for children and young people at risk of abuse.

The HSE also faced criticism from opposition politicians. Fine Gael TD, Alan Shatter, called on the Children’s Minister Barry Andrews to release details on the number of children classified as at 'serious risk' currently on waiting lists for comprehensive assessment, or social work intervention.

He said: "Last night's Prime Time Investigates programme starkly illustrated the gross inadequacies of our child protection services. It has been clear for some considerable time that there are a large number of children reported to HSE Community Care teams as being at serious risk as a result of abuse or neglect."

The TD added he believed it was "extraordinary" the HSE’s response to the programme didn’t mention the number of children presently awaiting assessment or intervention.

The HSE said today the past decade had seen considerable expansion and development in the range and quality of child and family services.

It said that expenditure on children, adolescent and family services totalled €572 million in 2007, or which €460 million was spent directly on children and family services.

The HSE was also accused of cutting back the amount of social workers available and although admitted there are 163 vacant social worker posts, the executive stressed 47 of these vacancies are in the process of being filled.

It added that a number of local recruitment campaigns are in progress and that a national campaign will be undertaken for basic social workers later this year.

The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW), said that children are at huge risk due to the failure of the HSE to fill vacant social work posts.


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