All TIGALA Guardians ad Litem have a minimum of 10 years’ experience working with children and families.
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Rhona is currently working as a Guardian ad Litem with Tigala since September 2020. Rhona is also commissioned by a private fostering agency to carry out fostering assessments and completes independent Social Work assessments.
Rhona is a Professionally Qualified Social Worker with over 20 years’ experience in the fields of Child Protection, Child Welfare, Fostering and Children in Care. Rhona has spent 10 years as a Social Work Team Leader during which time she has acted up as Principal Social Worker.
During this time, she has gained experience in providing support to people who are going through crisis and experiencing difficulties in their lives; as well as having knowledge of principles, techniques and practices used to deal with challenging circumstances. Rhona recognizes the importance of continuous professional development in order to deliver a child centered service derived from up to date knowledge and evidence based practice.
In her role as Social Work Team Leader, Rhona has managed a wide range of cases involving children and young people who have experienced all categories of abuse and a range of issues such as trauma, attachment disorders, non-accidental injury as well as adolescents presenting with at risk behaviours. Within this role, Rhona was responsible for the day to day management in providing a quality service to the children and families with whom she worked, whilst ensuring compliance within the statutory frameworks.
Throughout her 20 years’ experience, Rhona has convened and chaired a range of professional meetings to include child protection strategy meetings, statutory child in care reviews and multi-disciplinary meetings in order to ensure that the children’s best interests were taken into account and their needs met. In order to achieve best outcomes for the service users, Rhona relies upon her effective communication skills as well as conflict resolution and mediation skills. Rhona has also worked extensively with a child sexual abuse screening and assessment team during her career which has very often entailed joint working with An Garda Siochana.
Rhona has compiled comprehensive reports throughout her career and has extensive experience of giving evidence in Court including child care proceedings, Children’s Court as well as the High Court for Special Care applications. Rhona has also been an advocate for children and vulnerable persons throughout her career.
Rhona’s personal strengths include effective communication skills, observation, leadership and robust decision making skills.
Rhona is registered with CORU and is Garda cleared.
1996-2000 | BA in Applied Social Studies witha Diploma in Social Work, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
Further Education and Training
2020 | Children’s First
2019 | Inspirational Leadership
2019 | Words and Pictures
2018 | Children who have sexually harmed and safety planning
2018 | Signs of Safety
2018 | The Person Brain Model
2018 | Restorative Practice
2018 | Professional Supervision
2017 | Evidence Informed Practitioner Program me – this resulted in a paper being published on the TUSLA hub
2017 | Child Sexual Abuse Training
2017 | Attachment training
2017 | Dealing with allegation of retrospective sexual abuse
2016 | Excellence in report writing and Court Room skills
2015 | Working with at Risk Adolescent’s in Care
2015 | Evidence Based Practice, Dealing with Complex Cases
2012 | Voice of the Child
2006 | Drug Awareness
2003 | Understanding and Responding to Sexual Behavior of Children and Young People
2001 | Investigative Interviewing of Children who have been sexually abused
2000 | Recognizing and Responding to Child Abuse
2014–2020 | Social Work Team Leader, Tusla Child & Family Agency
2010-2014 | Child Protection Social Work Team Leader, HSE
2000-2010 | Child Protection Social Worker, HSE
Areas of Special Interest
As Rhona has worked in the field of Child Protection and Welfare for the majority of her career, she has gained a wealth of knowledge in this area.
Rhona’s area of special interest includes:
Child Sexual Abuse Assessments
Risk Assessments to include alleged perpetrators
Rhona undertook a piece of research and conducted a literary review on the issue of Transgender children and adolescence as she has a special interest in this area. Rhona has experience of working directly with young people who have come up against the challenges of Gender Dysphoria which inspired her to focus her research in this area as part of the Evidence Informed Practitioner Programme in 2015. Rhona has gained knowledge from conducting this research and as part of this training, her paper was published on the Tusla hub, where she was working at the time.