Over 150 court summonses issued to parents over poor school attendance

Tusla annual report also shows there were 6,388 children in care last year

Over 150 court summonses issued to parents over poor school attendance

File photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Some 516 school attendance notices were sent to parents across the country last year, according to a new report.

The warnings are issued by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in cases where children are regularly absent from school.

Under current legislation, schools are required to inform Tusla if a child has missed more than 20 days a year.

Parents who fail to comply with official attendance warnings may be prosecuted and face jail. 

Figures from Tusla show 154 court summonses were issued to parents in respect of 102 children in 2015. 

Newstalk.com has contacted the agency for details about the number of convictions.

The Education Welfare Service, which oversees compliance with attendance rules, engaged with a total of 3,959 children from September 2014 to December 2015.

The agency’s annual report also includes concerning statistics about the number of children waiting to be assigned a social worker.

There were 6,718 unallocated cases – 999 of which were deemed to be high priority – in December 2015.

This represents a decrease on the same period in 2014, however, when there were 8,542 cases awaiting allocation – 2,836 of which were high priority.

Foster care

There were 6,388 children in care across the state last year, with the majority (93%) being in foster care.

Almost a third of children in foster homes were staying with relatives.  

Meanwhile, a total of 43,596 referrals were made to Child Protection and Welfare Services.

Most of these (58%) related to child welfare issues, while 42% concerned alleged abuse or neglect.

Some 223 adoption assessments, which evaluate adoptive parents’ suitability, were completed in 2015.

The waiting list for adoption information and tracing services was reduced by 43%. 

Of the 195 complaints received by the agency, one in four focused on "alleged failures to take into account the concerns of family members or to consider all the evidence available".

Just under 15% related to staff attitudes, with a similar figure highlighting communication issues. 

Fred McBride, CEO of Tusla, said agency staff "worked tirelessly" last year to provide high-quality services.

"At a difficult time and with limited resources, Tusla made a strong start to introducing reforms, transforming services and ultimately improving outcomes for children," he said.