Child welfare

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Social workers for child protection

The Dail returned to the issue of the appointment of social workers for child protection, especially in the light of 45 retirements at the end of February (Dail Eireann, Debates, 22nd March 2012, 471-3; 484-5).  The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, told Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan) that the latest HSE information was for 31 retirements, not 45.  The government was providing an additional €19m for child welfare and protection in 2012.  There were then some exchanges as to whether this figure was for the end of January or the end of February, which the minister offered to clarify.  Caomhghin O Caolain nevertheless described this as a high number of retirements: ‘these are positions lost’.  How would this impact on the establishment of the new family support agency?  Here, one would expect increased provision.  


The minister told him that 262 extra social workers had been recruited last year and the year before, a 25% increase in the numbers dealing with child protection and welfare and it was important to acknowledge that.  It was not correct that they would not be replaced, for there was no moratorium on recruitment for social work positions, for the new national director of services for children and families had the authority to replace positions when vacancies occurred.  Later, she told Seamus Kirk (FF, Louth) that 62 social workers had been recruited in 2011, with 51 having already taken up duty and the rest expected to come on stream in coming weeks.  They were targeted at priority areas for the service.  The 31 who retired in February would require a considered management response and the new director would apply his discretion in the filling of vacancies. 51 of the 62 recommended by the Ryan report had been filled and the commitment to 262 had been met.