Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announces the commencement of all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015
Statement by Dr. Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
11th December, 2017
Minister Katherine Zappone T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, today announced the commencement of all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015. These include the provisions in relation to mandatory reporting of child abuse and in relation to placing a legal obligation on organisations providing services to children to prepare and publish a Child Safeguarding Statement.
Confirming the commencement Minister Zappone said “It is 20-years since Mandatory Reporting was first proposed to protect our children. It is now a reality.
The commencement follows intense preparations and comes at a time when the budget of the Child and Family Agency Tusla is about to pass €750m for the first time.”
On 2nd October, in anticipation of full commencement of the Act, Minister Zappone, launched Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children  which revises and replaces the 2011 edition of the Children First Guidance. The revised Guidance includes reference to the provisions of the Children First Act 2015 and is available on the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Also on 2nd October, Tusla launched an accompanying suite of Children First resource documents for those individuals and organisations who will acquire legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015. Tusla also launched a comprehensive 90 minute basic Children First e-learning programme, which is now being made universally available on line, free of charge. The Tusla suite of Children First resource materials and information on access to the e-learning programme is available Here
In relation to reporting of child abuse, the Minister urged anyone with a reasonable concern about a child’s welfare to report their concern to Tusla. “Under the Children First Guidance, everyone should be aware of the possibility of child abuse, and should report reasonable concerns to Tusla.
The mandatory reporting requirements now coming into force supplement this by placing a legal obligation on certain categories of persons to report serious abuse to Tusla”. Tusla has created 17 dedicated contact points across the country for the receipt of reports, the details of which are on Tusla’s website.
In circumstances of greater urgency, mandated reporters can phone Tusla in advance of making such a report. The Minister stressed that under no circumstances should a child be left in a situation that exposes him or her to harm, or risk of harm, pending intervention by Tusla, stating that “If you think the child is in immediate danger and you cannot contact Tusla, you should contact the Gardaí”.
In relation to organisations working with children, the Minister acknowledged and commended all those who work so hard to make sure that every child they interact with is cared for, supported and protected. The Minister stated that the obligations on organisations providing services for children now being commenced, namely, keeping the child safe from harm, carrying out a risk assessment and preparing and publishing a Child Safeguarding Statement, are putting best practice on a statutory basis, and will contribute to continually improving safeguarding of children, in all settings.
The Minister encouraged all those working with children to familiarise themselves with their obligations under the Act, through the information and support resources being made available by her Department and by Tusla. She added: “We all share the same goal – to make Ireland a safer place for our most vulnerable citizens, our children”.
An amendment was made to the Children First guidance to include a specific reference to the need to consider online safety in the context of completing the child safeguarding statement. Details of this amendment can be found on Here.
Review of Child Safeguarding Statement:
Section 11(7) of the Children First Act 2015 outlines that providers of relevant services undertake a review of their Child Safeguarding Statement not more than 24 months from the date on which it was first prepared and every 24 months thereafter. All ELC and SAC services were issued with the following letter in February 2020- available here.
For further information on Child Protection and Supporting Documentation click here
Fingal County Childcare Committee Child Protection contacts:
Designated Liaison Officer.
Deputy Designated Liaison Officer.