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.
COSAINT LEANAÍ - NATIONAL CHILD SAFEGUARDING PROGRAMME – EARLY LEARNING AND CARE
As you are all aware there is an embargo on training for the foundation level Children’s First. If services are concerned that their certificate is out of date or will be over the coming weeks, a memo has been sent to all Early Years Inspectors informing them that in this present moment the certificates from the E-Learning module will suffice. If it has been 3 years or more since an employee has completed the E-Learning, then they are advised to complete it again.
The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care launched their website in October, please see below.
The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care provides the only Tusla approved sector specific Child Safeguarding Programme in Ireland. Full of Early Learning and Care sector specific child safeguarding training and resources, which were developed in conjunction with Tusla, www.childsafeguardingelc.ie is a ‘one stop shop’ for all Child Safeguarding resources for Early Learning and Care Services in Ireland.
The website can be found at www.childsafeguardingelc.ie and on Twitter at @safeguardingelc
Children First Child Protection revision webinar
This webinar was developed to highlight the key elements of the face-to-face Always Children First Foundation training. Its purpose is to serve as an interim revision resource for Early Years practitioners.
CHILDREN FIRST REFRESHER RESOURCES
In the absence of a full training strategy from the National Child Safeguarding Programme due to current public health guidelines, there are a full range of Refresher online resources available on www.childsafeguardingelc.ie
· Staff in all services who haven’t completed the Tusla eLearning Programme in the last 3 years to do so https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme/
· Staff in all services can access the Children First Revision Webinar http://childsafeguardingelc.ie/early-learning-care-services/
· Staff in all services can access the Garda Vetting webinar http://childsafeguardingelc.ie/early-learning-care-services/
· Staff in all services can review and refresh their knowledge by accessing Info Blasts on various topics http://childsafeguardingelc.ie/category/english/
· Staff within ELC and SAC services can refresh their knowledge of their own organisation’s Child Safeguarding Policy using the resources available at http://childsafeguardingelc.ie/resources-publications/ and on Tulsa’s website https://www.tusla.ie/services/child-protection-welfare/ ; https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_-_Child_Safeguarding -A_Guide_for_Policy,_Procedure_and_Practice.pdf/
REQUIREMENT FOR EARLY LEARNING AND CARE SERVICES TO DEVELOP OR UPDATE A CHILD SAFEGUARDING STATEMENT UNDER THE CHILDREN FIRST ACT, 2015
Early Learning and Care services are providers of Relevant Services under the Children First Act 2015.
Providers of Relevant Services under the Children First Act are required to have a Child Safeguarding Statement. A key element of the Child Safeguarding Statement is the risk assessment.
When completing a risk assessment, an Early Learning and Care service is required to examine all aspects of its service from a safeguarding perspective while children are availing of your service. The risk assessment should establish if there are any practices or features of your service that may potentially put a child at risk of harm.
Remember the risks identified should be in relation to the specific activities of the service with children. It is not in relation to general health and safety risks.
The Children First Act 2015 defines harm as:
Assault, ill-treatment, or neglect of the child in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child’s health, development, or welfare or
Sexual abuse of the child, whether caused by a single act, omission or circumstance or a series or combination of acts, omissions, or circumstances or otherwise.
The risk assessment process is intended to enable your organisation to:
· Identify potential risks.
· Develop policies and procedures to minimize risk by responding in a timely manner to potential risks.
· Review whether adequate precautions have been taken to eliminate or reduce these risks.
All risks that are identified and stated in the risk assessment MUST be accompanied by a list of policies and procedures that are in place to manage that risk. It is imperative that the risks outlined in your risk assessment are unique and individual to your service.
After the Child Safeguarding risk assessment has been completed, the areas of risk identified should be included in the body of Child Safeguarding Statement. The Child Safeguarding Statement should also outline the policies and procedures which are in place to manage the risks that have been identified.
The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care have developed, in conjunction with Tusla, a Child Safeguarding Statement Template and Information Sheet which provides a detailed template and further information for completing a risk assessment within your Child Safeguarding Statement.
Further information can also be found at the following links:
Child Protection & Welfare Publications, Forms and Supporting Documentation are also available through the Tusla website, link below.
Fingal County Childcare Committee Child Protection contacts:
Designated Liaison Officer.
Deputy Designated Liaison Officer.