A report by The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has discovered “significant failings” in Tusla services in Dublin South Central.

The area includes the south inner city, Rialto, Inchicore, Ringsend, Rathmines, Rathfarnham, Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin, Rowlagh, Palmerstown and Lucan.

Between January and September last year, the area received an average of 220 child protection and welfare referrals a month.

HIQA conducted an inspection of the child protection and welfare service throughout Dublin South Central last September which aimed to assess compliance with national standards.

Of the six standards assessed, five were identified as major non-compliances and one standard was found to be substantially compliant with “significant failings” at the screening and preliminary enquiry stage of the management of referrals.

Inspectors were concerned that five initial assessments were completed without children having been seen.

At the time of the inspection, there were 77 cases on a waiting list for an initial assessment and 184 cases were awaiting further assessment.

Inspectors found there was no formal system in place to review waiting lists and no plan to address the backlog.

Children who were allocated a social worker received a varied service.

Some children experienced a good quality service where their needs were adequately assessed and the necessary interventions including immediate action were completed.

“While, other children received a delayed service and, when their needs were assessed, the quality of initial and further assessments were poor,” the report stated.

Following the inspection, HIQA met with Tusla’s chief operations officer and the service director for Dublin Mid-Leinster Region to discuss the preliminary findings from the inspection and the risks in the area’s foster care service.

A requirement for a full service plan to address continued and escalating risks across Dublin South Central Service Area was notified to Tusla during this meeting.

The report concludes that “Tusla has informed HIQA of a number of arrangements which are being established and or reviewed by Tusla to enhance its capacity and capability to deliver a safe and effective foster care and child protection service in Dublin South Central service area”.