Child Protection/ Welfare

Since December 11, 2017 Early Years Services including staff, service owners, board of management and volunteers have new legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015.

Consistent with the principles of Children First, every organisation, both public and private, that is providing services for children or that is in regular direct contact with children should:-

Ensure best practice in the recruitment of volunteers, which includes Garda vetting, taking up of references, good HR practices in interviewing, induction training, probation and on-going supervision and management;

  • Ensure that staff members or volunteers are aware of how to recognise signs of child abuse or neglect;
  • Develop guidance procedures for staff and/or volunteers who may have reasonable grounds for concern about the safety of children involved with the organisation. These procedures should not deviate from the current Children First: National Guidance, but may offer further elaboration to ensure local relevance and applicability.
  • Identify a designated person to act as a liaison with outside agencies and a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has child protection concerns. The designated person is responsible for reporting allegations or suspicions of child abuse to the HSE Children and Family Services or to An Garda Síochána

Child Safeguarding Statement

A Child Safeguarding Statement is a written statement that 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 includes a risk assessment, measures to manage any risks and a number of mandatory safeguarding policies and procedures.

If you are an Early years service provider (including pre-school or a school-age service) that employs more than one person you are legally required to have a Child Safeguarding Statement.

E-Learning: Introduction to Children First

Everyone in the sector including all owners, boards of management and early years staff are asked to complete this online course which provides introductory information on child protection and mandated reporting. The E-learning course can be accessed here:

The Mandated Person E-Learning Programme is available at the link below.

To find out if you are a Mandated person please refer to Children Fist National Guidance, 2017 Schedule 2 of the Children First Act 2015 page 57.

Mandated Persons: Who are Mandated Persons?

Mandated Persons are people who have contact with children and families and who, because of their qualifications, training and/or employment role, are in a key position to help protect children from harm.

If you work in an early years/school aged setting you are a Mandated Person.

To find out if you are a Mandated person please refer to Children Fist National Guidance, 2017 Schedule 2 of the Children First Act 2015 page 57.

Designated Liaison Person

In line with the new Child Protection Legislation, every organisation providing services for children or in direct contact with children should have a Designated Liaison Person (DLP) to act as a liaison with outside agencies and as a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has child protection concerns. The DLP ensures the standard reporting procedure is followed and that suspected cases of child neglect or abuse are referred promptly to the Child and Family Agency Duty Social Worker or in an emergency, where a child is in immediate danger and where the Social Worker cannot be contacted, to An Garda Síochana. The DLP should be knowledgeable about child protection and undertake any training necessary to keep themselves updated on new developments.

Child Protection and the Pre-School Regulations

Childcare Providers are obliged under Regulation 9 of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006 to have a Child Protection Policy based on Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children in operation. Clear written guidelines on identifying and reporting child abuse should be developed by the childcare service.

Child Protection Training for Early Years Settings

Since January 2014, a new standardised child protection training course is being delivered by the City & County Childcare Committees for Early Years Workers. The first level of training is Child Protection & Welfare: Foundation  Level. This training is a quality assured child protection training course tailored to the needs of the sector. It will be rolled out over 5 years to workers in both services and home-based settings.

The new programme has been developed in partnership with the Tusla and the roll out is being co-ordinated by the National Early Years Children First Committee, an interagency committee tasked with the implementation of Children First in the Early Years Sector. The Programme has been developed by the National Early Years Children First Committee and funded by the Department of Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth.

Children First is Ireland’s national guidance for the protection and welfare of children.

This coordinated approach to child protection training aims to provide access to a standardised training module for everyone, at minimum cost and to ensure consistent implementation of child protection policy and procedures across the sector. Early Years Workers are in almost daily contact with children and their families and therefore are in a position often to recognise and identify concerns about the safety, welfare or well-being of a child in their care and have a responsibility for safeguarding these children through their policies, procedures and practices.

The one-day accredited training course looks at what constitutes child abuse, the roles and responsibilities in reporting child protection and welfare concerns, child protection policies and safe work practices This is a HSE accredited module that has been developed specifically for the Early Years sector.

It is aimed at childcare workers who are currently working in a service, childminders and boards of management.

For information on Child Protection Training, please click on the link below

National Child Safeguarding Programme 

The National Child Safeguarding Programme would like to remind registered providers of ELC services that Part 2 of the Children First Act 2015 places specific obligations on organisations that provide relevant services to children. These obligations rest with the provider of the relevant service, as the person who employs one or more than one other person to undertake the relevant service (i.e., the owner/chairperson of the BOM)

  1. A) Providers of Relevant Services under the Children First Act, 2015;
  • Schedule 1 ‘Relevant Services’ Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children in — (a) an establishment which provides early years services within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991
  • Provider of a Relevant Service – as per the Children First Act 2015, is someone who employs, contracts with or permits one, or more than one other person, to undertake any work or activity that constitutes a relevant service e., the employer.
  1. B) Mandated Persons under the Children First Act, 2015;

Schedule 2 ‘Mandated Persons’ in ELC Services

  • “Childcare staff member employed in a pre-school service within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991”
  • “A person carrying on a pre-school service within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991”

It is imperative that registered providers of ELC services including Chairpersons of Boards of Management of Community Services and owners of chains of private services along with all other Tusla registered providers are aware of and understand their role, responsibilities and obligations as both Providers of Relevant Services and Mandated Persons under the Children First Act, 2015. 

As part of ELC service’s Child Safeguarding Training Strategy, which is a Specified Procedure under the Children First Act, 2015, it is recommended that at a minimum, all stakeholders should complete Tusla’s Children First eLearning Programme  and all mandated persons should complete Tusla’s Mandated Person eLearning Module.  The National Child Safeguarding Programme’s Info Blast on Mandated Persons will also provide further information.

For further information,  The Children First Act, 2015 can be accessed here  and chapter 3 of The Children First National Guidance, 2017, also provides further information for Mandated Persons and can be accessed here.

It is recommended that persons described above, also attend the Always Children First Child Safeguarding Training provided nationally by City and County Childcare Committees to further their understanding of their responsibilities.  

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