The Health Information and Quality Authority has found that the Child and Family Agency in Co Donegal has been "struggling" to manage risks to children due to staff shortages.

A report of a HIQA inspection singles out failures in some instances to allocate social workers to cases or to assess the needs of children who are at risk of abuse.

Figures provided to HIQA inspectors last May by the Donegal area of the Child and Family Agency, also known as Tusla, showed that 28% of initial assessments were not completed within the 20-day period expected by the agency.

Inspectors found records of initial assessments that took 24 weeks to complete.

Apart from staff shortages, HIQA said other reasons for delays were lengthy initial assessments that exceeded their purpose and delays in gathering information from external sources.

Other figures provided indicated that 47 cases were awaiting an initial assessment.

However, the area's returns to Tusla showed that in March 2014 a total of 169 cases were awaiting allocation to a social worker.

The report found that not all children had been visited by Tusla while awaiting a social work service, that such cases were not effectively monitored and that the needs of the children concerned went unmet or unidentified.

The HIQA inspection, which was announced, found that the Donegal area complied with five out of the 27 standards assessed, had a minor non-compliances with ten standards, while there were moderate non-compliances with 12. It found no major non-compliances.

Tusla was established at the beginning of the year as "the dedicated State agency responsible for improving well-being and outcomes for children".

Last week, it said it will need a supplementary budget of €25 million for 2014.