Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 24 April, 2008

Written Answers. - Adoption Services.

Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the time-scale involved and the waiting list for a first assessment in relation to an inter-country adoption (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15776/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith:The Deputy’s question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

[152] 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 undertaken a review of the inter-country adoption service. This review examined staffing, business processes, resources, strengths and options within the service. The HSE has indicated that it will contact the Department shortly with a proposed strategy on the management of the service into the future based on this work and parallel discussions with professionals within the service. I would like to assure the Deputy of my attention to this issue and reiterate the importance of a rigorous and effective assessment system.