Tusla cuts ties with two companies that had been providing emergency accommodation for children

New company set up in months after Tusla stopped using Ideal Care services over ‘fabrication’ of staff checks

The State child and family agency had to cut ties with two companies that had been providing emergency accommodation for vulnerable children in care, due to concerns over standards, it has emerged.

Earlier this week The Irish Times revealed Tusla stopped placing children with one large provider of accommodation for children in care, Ideal Care Services, after it was found to have put young people at risk by failing to carry out proper background checks on staff.

Kate Duggan, chief executive of Tusla, confirmed on Thursday the agency had to stop relying on a second company it had previously contracted to run services. It is understood the company, which Tusla has declined to name, had also been involved in providing emergency accommodation to children taken into State care.

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas public accounts committee, Ms Duggan said there were “two agencies we’ve stopped engaging with” over concerns. The first, Ideal Care, had been paid €10 million by Tusla in recent years, while the second company had been paid €4 million by the State agency since 2020, the committee heard.


More than 180 children in State care are currently in accommodation known as special emergency arrangements – like that which was provided by Ideal Care. These are often bed and breakfasts or rental properties run by care staff from private companies. The unregulated arrangements have been criticised as inappropriate and unsuitable by NGOs, judges and politicians.

Ms Duggan said Tusla had previously relied on “assurances” from companies running the arrangements that all their staff were compliant with requirements around vetting and qualifications. She said the agency later decided “we can’t take assurances” and set up a unit to audit private companies accommodating children.

An internal July 2023 report detailed how Tusla had uncovered major concerns about Ideal Care. Inspections of the company that March had found checks of prospective employees had been “fabricated”, while some Garda vetting records had been altered. In response to revelations, the Dáil heard the company had been referred to the Garda.

Company accounts show after Tusla stopped placing children with Ideal Care, the couple behind the private provider set up a new company with the aim of running regulated group homes for children in care.

Ideal Care is owned by an evangelical pastor, Jossy Akwuobi (45), from Tyrrelstown, Dublin, who was its operations director, while his partner, Karen Akwuobi (39), is a director of the company. Documents from Ideal Care list Ms Akwuobi’s role as the provider’s director of services.

Company records show a new entity, Iontaofa Care Limited, was set up by the pair in late July 2023. Ms Akwuobi is the chief executive and owner of Iontaofa Care, with Mr Akwuobi the company secretary. It is registered to the same address in a Mulhuddart, Dublin, business park as Ideal Care.

One source said the new company had been working towards applying to register with Tusla to open regulated group homes, rather than run emergency accommodation.

The website of Iontaofa Care states it plans to provide “children residential services” where young people can “heal, develop and move forward in their lives”. It said it also planned to run accommodation for young people in care who needed a “period of stabilisation”, as well as “emergency placement support”. Neither Ideal Care, Iontaofa Care, Mr Akwuobi or Ms Akwuobi responded to requests for comment.

In a statement, Tusla said its records indicated “Iontaofa Care Limited is not currently and was never previously a provider of any services to Tusla”.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he had concerns about Tusla’s current reliance on special emergency arrangements. Measures were being taken to improve the safety of the placements while Tusla worked to reduce the number of children living in the emergency accommodation.

Kathleen Funchion, Sinn Féin spokeswoman, has called for an independent review of the entire State care system, which she said at present was failing children. The current situation where private companies were making profits “on the back” of caring for young people was “completely unsatisfactory,” she said.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times