The Child and Family Agency Tusla received 6,369 child welfare and protection referrals in November 2020, its highest monthly total in a year.

The most recent report by the agency shows a huge 48% monthly increase in the number of cases waiting to be dealt with by Tusla’s Education Welfare Service. The report also highlighted that 14 of the 17 Tusla areas reported an increase from October 2020, making child welfare a widespread issue in Ireland.

At the end of November 2020, there were 4,053 cases awaiting allocation, including 362 cases classed as high priority. Kerry had the highest number of high-priority cases awaiting allocation, closely followed by Cork.

Alongside these figures, there were also 1,599 mandated reports of abuse received in November, with 38% coming from gardaí and 15% from social workers, while a further 15% came from teachers.

Mirroring these increases, Tusla has also seen a large 62% increase in child protection cases from domestic violence refuges.

Sonya Bruen, solicitor and expert in childcare law who represents Tusla in applications to remove children into case, says that domestic violence is now a factor in around 50% of District Court applications in Dublin alone.

Month-on-month referrals for school absenteeism also saw a sharp increase between September and November 2020.

The Tusla Child and Family Agency is now the dedicated state agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. It represents the most widespread reform of child protection, early intervention and family support services ever undertaken in Ireland.

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