Number of social workers should be doubled for child protection

Irish Association of Social Workers says there needs to be at least a 30% increase amid revelations of long-standing abuse claims

The Irish Association of Social Workers is calling for at least a 30% increase in the number of social workers.

The group says we need at least 300-400 new social workers to join the 1,400 already in place.

Some 7,000 people are waiting to be allocated a social worker nationally, according to the association.

Their demand comes after allegations of abuse at a foster home in the South East over a 20-year period.

Latest figures from the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) showed that last August, in the Dublin, Wicklow and South East areas alone, 177 children at the centre of alleged abuse were waiting to be assigned to a social worker.

Over 90% of children in care are in foster homes, some of those children do not have a social worker to check on them and to implement a care plan for them.

Chair of the Irish Association of Social Workers Donal O'Malley, told Newstalk.com's Breakfast show that ideally, the number of social workers should be doubled:

"If we want the kind of child protection service that we feel our children deserve and to try and reduce the risk of these kind of issues happening again - we are looking instantly at a 30% increase.

Currently there are 1,400 social workers, at a very minimum. You could certainly double the service if you wanted a service that was properly resourced."