The Waterford/ Wexford region experienced the greatest drop in the number of children in care who have been allocated a social worker in the past year, according to new figures from child and family welfare agency Túsla.
However the number of social workers in employment in the Wexford/Waterford district increased from 82.91 in January 2015 to 89.24 in March.
The latest Tusla Performance Data report shows that the district is falling behind other areas in the provision of child protection and welfare services to children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 years. A total of 390 children out of 438 had been allocated social worker in March of this year, compared to 424 out of 447 the previous year.
The region had the fourth highest number of child welfare and child abuse referrals in the region as of March 2016, at 867. However Waterford/ Wexford has the worst level of provision in a number of categories, with one of the highest increases in open/ active cases in the country and the greatest dropout rate of children in care from secondary school for the Leaving Cert between December and March.
The number of preliminary enquiries completed and seen within 24 hours of receipt of referral in the district in 2015 was 1,304, or 41 per cent, while the number of initial assessments completed within 21 days was among the lowest nationally, at eight per cent (106 cases).
Of the 67 active abuse cases recorded, all children had a social worker appointed, with 15 cases (22 per cent) ongoing for over one year; 17 cases (25 per cent) active between seven and 12 months; and 35 cases (52 per cent) active from 0 to six months.
Almost 99 per cent of children aged between four and 15 were attending school while in care up to March. However the number of teenagers aged between 16 and 17 who were attending school while in care fell from 77 out of 78 in December to 71 out of 77 in March and only 27 per cent of teenagers aged 16 and 17 in care in the district had a leaving care and after care plan in place in March.