The Child and Family Agency re-entered a case due to the breakdown of a placement which was outsourced by the Agency. The service provided had accounting difficulties and informed the Agency on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend that they could no longer provide the service, with immediate effect.
The child has been in care for years and there had been several breakdowns in placements. The CFA were concerned that the placement had broken down due to the service provider having money issues. The child and his parents were both in court and all parties were very concerned at the situation.
The child was provided emergency care with a previous foster parent. She agreed to care for him with no notice and was complimented for her actions. The solicitor for the CFA told the court that they were still in talks with the current service provider and hoped that the financial difficulties could be remedied. The CFA were also speaking with other service providers in the hope that they could take over the placement with little or no interruption.
The solicitor for the CFA told the judge that there were 10 days left in this interim arrangement. She informed the court that there are issues with the landlord as to whether he will continue to allow the house to be rented for this purpose and there are also issues surrounding the staff.
The judge responded by saying “so there is a crisis here” and the solicitor told the judge that they were meeting with the service provided the following day, to try to continue with the current placement and maintain the same staff so that the child could continue going to Youthreach. The solicitor said that they were concurrently looking for alternative service providers.
The solicitor for the guardian ad litem accepted that the social workers on the ground were doing all they could, but told the court that the situation was unfortunate because the child was doing well in this placement.
The solicitor for the father told the court: “The CFA are under obligations and this is a continuing problem of the CFA contracting out their obligations and this issue then arises. If this was a TUSLA building with TUSLA staff, then this issue wouldn’t arise.”
The solicitor went on to say: “There is a difficulty with this policy decision by corporate CFA to contract out services which they are responsible for… it is causing additional work for the court which is not satisfactory and the uncertainty for these most vulnerable children and stress and lack of clarity and certainty – is a form of abuse in itself. The CFA need to review their policy and consider investing.”
The judge said that she would give the CFA forty-eight hours to get a plan together and listed the matter on the following Monday. The judge said “I want to hear that it is all sorted and I’m relying on everyone working away. If it needs to be mentioned tomorrow or any other day I will always find a few minutes.”
When the case returned the CFA reported that the issue had been resolved with the original provider within 96 hours.