Foster care services in three areas have been criticised by HIQA for failing to ensure that carers were providing a safe service.

The reviews of Tusla's Dublin North City, Dublin South Central and the Cavan/Monaghan service areas also revealed that garda vetting had not been updated while the performance, training needs and support requirements of carers had not been reviewed.

The Health Quality and Information Authority found that Dublin South Central was seriously failing to comply with six of the eight standards assessed; in Dublin North City the failure rate was five out of eight, while in Cavan/Monaghan it was two out of eight.

Dublin City North, which embraces Ballymun, is home to almost 45,000 children. Around a third of them live in areas classified as most deprived and three quarters of the Republic's homeless families live here.

Dublin South Central runs from the Liffey through Ballyfermot to Lucan and Rowlagh.

Again much of it is deprived and again children here need more foster care services than usual.

Cavan/Monaghan has above the national average unemployment rate and does not have enough foster carers to meet the needs of all its children in state care.

HIQA has agreed action plans with Tusla to address the failings identified in all three areas.

The watchdog's reports, which were published today, say all three areas met the standard for assessing and approving non-relative carers.

However, it criticises failures in each area to meet the standards on safeguarding children in care and reviewing their foster carers.

Inspectors also found that there were not always appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place, that child protection concerns were not always managed in line with the State's Children First rules dating from 2011 and that routine reviews of foster carers were not taking place.

The reports say this meant that the service could not ensure that foster carers had the continuing capacity to provide safe care.