On 2nd October 2017, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched the revised Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and announced the commencement of remaining sections of the Children First Act 2015 from 11th December 2017. The newly commenced provisions of the Children First Act, including mandated reporting, will come into effect from 11th December 2017.
Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children is intended to help people to recognise child abuse and neglect, and report concerns to Tusla. The Guidance has been updated to reflect the provisions of the Children First Act 2015 and it includes specific information for people and organisations who will acquire legal obligations under the legislation when it is fully commenced in December 2017.
Tusla has produced a suite of information documents and a universal elearning programme to support the launch of the revised Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and the commencement of remaining sections of the Children First Act 2015. Scroll down for links to these materials, as well as frequently asked questions developed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
From 11th December 2017, certain groups of people will be legally obliged to report concerns of child harm to Tusla. These people are known as ‘mandated persons’. Mandated persons must report child protection and welfare concerns to Tusla and help Tusla, if requested, in assessing a reported concern.
Also, organisations which work with children and families and which are defined as providers of ‘relevant services’ in the Children First Act 2015 will have additional obligations relating to the protection of children.
Mandated persons are people who have ongoing contact with children and/or families and who are in a key position to protect children from harm. They include teachers, doctors, nurses, Gardaí, foster carers, youth workers and people working in many other professions. A full list of ‘mandated persons’ is available here.
For more information, see Tusla’s guide for reporting concerns about children: A Guide for the Reporting of Child Protection and Welfare Concerns.
The Children First Act 2015 requires organisations that are providers of ‘relevant services’ to prepare a Child Safeguarding Statement, which is circulated to all staff, displayed publicly and made available to parents, guardians, Tusla and members of the public upon request.
A Child Safeguarding Statement is a written statement that specifies the service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed to ensure, as far as practicable, that a child availing of the service is safe from harm. It also includes an assessment of risk of harm to a child while availing of your service and specifies the procedures in place to manage any identified risks.
Organisations which are defined in the Children First Act 2015 as providers of ‘relevant services’ must have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place within three months of the commencement of relevant sections of the Children First Act 2015 (on 11th December 2017). A full list of ‘relevant services’ is available here.
For more information, see Tusla’s Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement which includes a template Child Safeguarding Statement.
Early Years Services and the Children First Act, 2015
Revised Children First Guidance
|December 11th, 2017||– Mandated Persons acquire new legal obligations to report child abuse
– Relevant services are required to have a Child Safeguarding Statement
|December 11th, 2017||– Revised Children First Guide & other support documentation comes into operation.
|March 11th, 2018||– Existing relevant services have until this date to publish their Child Safeguarding Statement.
The Early Years Child Protection programme was established to support the implementation of Children First in the early years sector through delivery of a national child protection training plan and child protection policy supports. The Programme is currently updating its materials and developing support documentation. Regional information sessions will be held in partnership with Tusla on the new legal obligations and will be open to all early years services.
In the meantime, services are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new Children First Guidance and other support documents published by Tusla, they include a Child Protection Reporter’s guide and a Guide to developing and Child Safe Guarding Statement all of which can be accessed here: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-2017/.
Lynch, D & Burns, K (eds) (2012) Children’s Rights and Child Protection. Critical Times, Critical Issues in Ireland. Manchester University Press: Manchester