Child Protection

 


Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children
 
2017 
provides the national guidance for the protection and welfare of children in Ireland.  

A child is defined under the Child Care Act 1991  as anyone under the age of 18 years who is not, or has not been married. 

It states what organisations need to do to keep children safe, and what different bodies and the general public should do if they are concerned about a child’s safety and welfare.

Tusla Child and Family Agency 

Tusla Child and Family Agency has a legal responsibility under the Childcare Act 1991 to promote the welfare and protection of children.  

Children First Act 2015

The key provisions in the Act that will affect early years’ services are:

1.     Legal Obligation on ‘Mandated Persons’ to report child protection concerns and child abuse over a certain threshold to Tusla

2.     Requirement to have a Child Safeguarding Statement

Commenced in full on December 11th, 2017

Mandated Persons

In early years’ settings you are a Mandated Person if you are:

1.     A person carrying on a pre-school service within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991.

2.     A child care staff member employed in a pre-school service within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991

Mandated persons have two main legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015:

-         To report harm of children, above a defined threshold, to Tusla

-         To assist Tusla, if requested, in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report

 

Child Safeguarding Statement

Early years services that meet both criteria below are Relevant Services and are legally required to have a Child Safeguarding Statement:

1. An establishment which provides early years’ services within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991 (a pre-school service or a school-age service as defined under the Childcare Act 1991)

2. Employ one other person whether through contract, voluntary agreement or mutual agreement.

Child Safeguarding Statement -  What is it?

-         A written statement

-         It specifies the service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed in order to ensure, as far as practicable, that a child availing of the service is safe              from harm.

-         It should provide an overview of the measures that your organisation has in place to ensure that children are protected from harm.

          It may also refer to more detailed policies which can be made available on request.

Many of the policies required will already be in operation in your service.

Updated Safeguarding Statement Template and Information Sheet

The National Early Years Children First Programme, in conjunction with Tusla, have updated the Early Learning and Care Child Safeguarding Statement Template and Information as available below. Services are encouraged to read the information sheet prior to updating their Child Safeguarding Statement.  It is imperative that services follow all instructions on the Template and that they ensure that the risks that are identified and the policies that are named to mitigate risks are specific to their service. 

See below publications to view the updated template and information sheet. 

Summary

  • The welfare and protection of children is of paramount importance.
  • Everyone has a responsibility for the welfare and protection of children. Mandated persons have a legal obligation to pass on concerns to Tusla.
  • If you are concerned about a child, you should report that concern without delay to Tusla Social Work Department which has statutory responsibility to protect children.
  • You can report your concern in person, by telephone or in writing.
  • Before deciding whether or not to make a formal report, you may wish to discuss your concerns via informal consultation with Tusla’s Social Work Department.

 

Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act (1998) 

This Act provides immunity from civil liability when reports on child abuse cases are made ‘reasonably and in good faith’.

Reports must be made to Tusla/HSE Designated Officers or Gardaí.

The main provisions of this Act are:

  • The provision of immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’.
  • The provision of significant protections for employees who report child abuse.
  • The creation of a new offence of false reporting of child abuse when a person makes a report of child abuse to the appropriate authorities ‘knowing that statement to be false’. This is a new criminal offence designed to protect innocent people from malicious reports.

 

Supporting Documents and Useful Links

Click here to locate contact details of your local Child and Family Agency Social Workers

For more detailed information on Child Protection including Tusla's Child Protection and Welfare Report Form and Retrospective Abuse Report Form, click here: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/publications-and-forms 

 

Information for Parents/Carers on Children First in Early Learning and Care Services-Parent Leaflets

The National Early Years Children First Committee have developed an information leaflet for parents. The purpose of the leaflet is to outline what parents can expect in relation to Child Safeguarding from Early Learning and Care services. This leaflet is available in both English and Irish and can be downloaded below:

NEYCFC Parent's Leaflet English

NEYCFC Parent's Leaflet Irish

 

Children First E-Learning Programme

An Introduction to Children First e-learning course is available on Tusla’s website and provides baseline information on Children First including mandatory reporting: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme

Message from the National Early Years Children First Committee:  

Due to current Public Health advice in relation to COVID-19, the Early Years specific Always Children First Foundation Level Training is on hold. 

*All staff are asked to complete the Tusla ELearning Programme and that all staff are aware of their organisation's Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedures and are familiar with their own role and responsibilities within the organisation should Child Protection or Welfare concerns arise. 

Practitioners should complete the Tusla ELearning Programme every three years.  

In addition to this there is a 30 minute online revision presentation for Early Learning and Care Practitioners available which highlights the key elements of the Children First 6 hour Foundation Level training. This programme should be preceded by completing the Tusla ELearning Programme. This revision course can be accessed below. 

Children First Child Protection Revision Webinar

Children First ELearning Programme

Tusla Children First Support Documents

 

Click on the below images to view relevant Child Protection publications: 

Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017

Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement: A Guide for Early Years Services in Ireland 

 

 

Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement: A Guide for Early Years Services in Ireland (Irish Language version)

 

Child Safeguarding Statement: Template for Early Years Services

Updated July 2020. The Template below has been updated in line with all relevant Legislation and Policy and has been approved as a template by the Child Safeguarding Statement Compliance Unit (CCSU)

Services are encouraged to read the information sheet: Child Safeguarding Statement ELC Information Sheet July 2020 prior to updating their Child Safeguarding Statement with the template available by clicking on the image below:

 

 Responding to and Reporting a Child Protection or Welfare Concern: Sample Policy for Early Years Services

 

 

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