An investigation into the quality of foster care services in Cork city and county has found the Health Service Executive in breach of foster care legislation.

The investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority says the HSE failed to fully implement guidelines for the protection and welfare of children, while it was also critical of delays in the assessment of family members as foster carers.

There are almost 700 children in foster care with 450 carers in Cork.

HIQA is responsible for the inspection of foster care services nationally and its investigation into services in Cork uncovered deficiencies which concerned the authority.

HIQA found that almost 50 carers had not been assessed and approved by the HSE.

It also found that no social workers had been assigned to some children because jobs had not been filled.

And it found that the HSE had not fully implemented child protection and welfare guidelines.

The HSE in Cork accepts there are deficiencies in its foster care services.

This is the second report issued by HIQA into foster care services in the past three months.

This report is not as damning as HIQA's July report, which found that foster care services in parts of Dublin were in a state of crisis.

However, it is yet another warning of serious deficiencies, and it calls for those deficiencies to be addressed as a priority.