Serious concerns have been raised following a report which investigated the deaths of children last year, either in the care of Tusla or known to the agency.
The report published by the National Review Panel found that five babies and one toddler, whose mothers had drug or alcohol abuse problems, died last year.
The National Review Panel found that these deaths were ‘associated with maternal substance misuse’.
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte said that it is concerning that in some cases, social workers had taken ‘an overly optimistic view’ of parents’ ability to cope with childrearing responsibilities.
“This is something which I have heard before from people involved in the child protection services, from foster parents to social workers,” she said.
The Fianna Fail TD continued: “This report highlights two worrying aspects of Ireland’s child protection services. In the first instance, we know that social workers are often so burned out and overburdened that they are simply unable to provide adequate support to children and parents.
“We need to take a serious look at supporting social workers in the discharging of their professional duties and look at new ways of improving this service.”
It is nonsensical, she added, that social workers are often working in a vacuum away from other support services, such as drug treatment and mental health services.
“Parents experiencing considerable mental health and substance abuse issues will understandably find it difficult to care for their children in a consistent and loving manner.
“They need help with these issues, and it is deeply worrying that social workers cannot ensure that they are given access to the supports necessary to do so.
This has to be addressed urgently otherwise children will continue to be left in vulnerable situations,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.