Traditionally, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has been responsible for all cases of child protection. It dealt with these cases through the Children and Family Services and Social Work Departments located throughout the State.
In order to better respond to children’s needs and to promote their welfare and safety, a new approach has recently begun to be implemented at national level. It calls for the development and implementation of a single, transparent, consistent and accountable National Service Delivery Framework (NSDF), focused on improving outcomes for children.
Under the new framework, which is national policy, providing support to a child or young person and their family is no longer the exclusive responsibility of Children and Family Services; all services have a contribution to make in the protection and welfare of all children – whether they are statutory services such as health, education, An Garda Siochána and local authorities, or services from the community/voluntary sector.
This new guidance requires all of these groups to co-ordinate and to deliver these services as one cohesive support system: helping to improve outcomes for children and families. The approach is based on harnessing the expertise of statutory, voluntary and community sector organisations in supporting families.
Now, local areas will each have their own Children and Family Support Networks (CFSN), which are multi-agency networks comprising statutory, community and voluntary organisations that either provide family support services or that work with families needing early intervention. This localised, area-based approach is intended to provide families with easy access to integrated front-line services in their own communities.
The CFSN consists of those services with a role in the lives of children and families in a given area and is a partnership which recognises that supporting families and keeping children safe is everyone’s business. The National Service Delivery Plan will place particular emphasis on providing timely targeted and specialist services to children and families.
Local CFSNs will be the single point of entry for families not meeting the threshold for statutory child protection services, but who nonetheless have a need for family support or other community based services.
This new way of working involves providing co-ordinated help to families before they require social work intervention, during social work interventions and post social work intervention.
The CFSN will seek to ensure that families who may require different levels of support receive such support. The key distinction is that where there is a child protection concern for the child, the intervention must be led and co-ordinated by the Social Work Department.
It is in this context that the Finglas Children and Family Support Network was formed in 2012 to facilitate the implementation of the National Service Delivery Framework in the Finglas area. The Finglas Children and Family Support Network focuses on ensuring that each child and family receives appropriate and timely help and support that is relevant to their needs.