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Abstract

This paper examines the issue of social workers’ caseloads in child protection and welfare in the Republic of Ireland. High caseloads impact on the type and quality of service provided to children and families, and on worker retention and job satisfaction. This exploratory paper examines the limited available evidence on social workers’ caseloads in the Republic of Ireland and presents data on child protection and welfare social workers’ perspectives on their caseloads drawn from a qualitative study. These analyses are set in the context of the Irish State’s commitments since the publication of the Ryan report. A central argument of this article is that the recommendations of successive child abuse inquiries in Ireland have given rise to expectations and demands on child protection and welfare teams that are not possible to meet given the increasing level of referrals and the high numbers of children for whom social workers are responsible.

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