NUI Galway Study Finds Significant Improvements in Tusla Child and Family Support Services

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The UNESCO Child and Family Centre at NUI Galway has finalised a four-year study that has found significant improvements in Tusla’s Prevention, Early Intervention and Family Support services. The reports were launched with Tusla-Child and Family Agency today in Dublin. Pictured were Fred McBride, CEO Tusla with Dr. John Canavan, UNESCO, Dr. Aisling Gillen, Tusla, and Dr. Carmel Devney UNESCO, CFRC. Picture Jason Clarke
The UNESCO Child and Family Centre at NUI Galway has finalised a four-year study that has found significant improvements in Tusla’s Prevention, Early Intervention and Family Support services. The reports were launched with Tusla-Child and Family Agency today in Dublin. Pictured were Fred McBride, CEO Tusla with Dr. John Canavan, UNESCO, Dr. Aisling Gillen, Tusla, and Dr. Carmel Devney UNESCO, CFRC. Picture Jason Clarke

The UNESCO Child and Family Centre at NUI Galway has finalised a four-year study that has found significant improvements in Tusla’s Prevention, Early Intervention and Family Support services. The reports were launched with Tusla-Child and Family Agency today (13 September 2018) in Dublin.

In 2016, 47,399 child protection and welfare referrals were made to Tusla-Child and Family Agency, and 6,267 children and young people were in its care in 2016. More and better prevention and early intervention is needed to reduce these numbers.   

Key Report Findings

  1. Overall, the research shows Tusla is getting better at providing early help for children, young people and their families.
  2. Significantly, the research is showing that Tusla’s flagship new programme for providing early help, Meitheal, is welcomed by families and is making a positive difference to their lives. When fully in place, the system may help reduce the numbers entering the child protection system.
  3. Importantly Meitheal is improving outcomes for children and young people over time, particularly from the perspective of mothers. Maternal well-being was the most significant predictor of family outcomes suggesting that supporting mothers is key to supporting families.
  4. The study also demonstrates good work by Tusla, benchmarked against international best practice, in listening to and including children, in its policies and the capacity of the front-line workers. There is strong evidence of children and young people’s participation being embedded across Tusla.
  5. The research results indicate promising results from Tusla’s work in supporting parents through its innovative Parent Support Champions programme.
  6. Overall, while the public’s awareness of Tusla increased over the four-year study, the research findings have shown that in the main, families turn to and depend on family and close friends for help and support.

The NUI Galway research reports concluded that the culture of Tusla is changing and that it is becoming more preventative in focus and inclusive of parents and children. This is demonstrated across the work of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support programme.

The research also identified areas for improvement across the programme. Ongoing organisational support and funding is needed to ensure that the PPFS is fully operational across all Tusla areas.  There is a need for greater awareness of programme components (Meitheal, children’s participation, parenting support) across the wider organisation. The general public need to be made more aware of Tusla’s prevention, early intervention and family support within its full service offering. More is to be done on integrating the programme fully within Tusla’s organisation and in day-to day-operations, and in connecting the Meitheal programme in particular with other agencies and government departments. The individual research reports indicate changes, adaptations and improvements in each of the programme areas.

The research is contained in six research reports (see link below):

  • Meitheal and Child and Family Support Networks
  • Children’s Participation
  • Parenting Support and Parental Participation
  • Commissioning
  • Public Awareness
  • Systems Change

Dr John Canavan, Associate Director and Senior Lecturer from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Our research demonstrates that Tusla has developed and implemented a national programme of work that should increase the numbers of children and families receiving early help to prevent problems they face getting worse. It also demonstrates that Tusla is putting in place systems, training and procedures to ensure that its meets its responsibility to listen to and act on the views of children.”

Dr Carmel Devaney, lead researcher from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “With regard to help-seeking for a parenting or family problem, personal support networks, family and friends, were the main source of support for the public. Members of the public turned to their local GP primarily if they could not manage a parent or family problem, while increasing numbers of people are asking a teacher for assistance in this area. Family members also reported their appreciation of being included in the process of identifying their needs and in deciding on a helpful response to these. Children and young people highlighted that they felt listened to with some noting improvements in their lives as a result of taking part in Meitheal.

“Our findings also suggested that both the public and the media do not clearly differentiate the concept of family support from child protection, and children in care. And 98.5% of the population confirmed they had received services from Tusla when they sought them this year.”

Speaking at the launch, Tusla Chief Executive Fred McBride, stated: “The Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) programme is growing, and with our Tusla National Child and Family Support Week promotional campaign underway from September 17-23, we hope that even more people will seek help from our range of family support services. Staff at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre have been at our side to develop, and critically assess the PPFS programme. This work provides us with a rich understanding of the PPFS programme and it’s potential. The research carried out by NUI Galway has been executed in an academically robust and systematic manner, and provides us with a clearly defined body of knowledge that allows us to examine what we are doing, and why we are doing it.”

To read and download the full research reports and key findings, visit: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/mainstream/ourworktodate/

-Ends-

Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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