Dáil Éireann - Volume 646 - 12 February, 2008

Written Answers. - Adoption Services.

Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the lengthy delay in the midlands area with regard to the assessment of appropriate candidates for inter-country adoption; if there are sufficient social workers available to deal with the number of outstanding applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4501/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: The HSE has statutory responsibility for the implementation of policy with regard to assessments for inter-country adoption. As the Deputy may be aware, requests for assessment for inter-country adoption are continuously increasing. The recent study on inter-country adoption, undertaken by the Children’s Research Centre in Trinity College, revealed that Ireland has one of the highest rates for foreign adoption in Europe. In addition, as a result of the increased number of children coming from abroad, a new and increasing demand for post-adoption reports from sending countries has been created. Both assessments and post-placement reports are being undertaken by HSE social work staff.

The HSE has been assessing the provision of services in the context of moving from the health board system to a single executive. It has acknowledged that there is a divergence in the provision of services and is committed to addressing those differences. In a number of areas, the HSE has improved waiting times by contracting assessments out to non-statutory agencies with appropriate expertise. The HSE has also appointed an outside consultant to undertake a review of the inter-country adoption service. This review is examining staffing, [945] business processes, resources, strengths and options within the service. The HSE has indicated that it will contact the Department shortly with proposals to improve this service based on the outcome of the report. I would like to assure the Deputy of my attention to this issue and reiterate the importance of a rigorous and effective assessment system.