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Children First 2017- Mandated Reporting

01 December, 2017

Ireland Active: Tusla Children First 2017 Guidance- November 2017

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs recently 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.

What is going to change?

From 11th December 2017, certain groups of people (including certain roles in the sport, fitness and leisure sector where working with children) 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.

How do I know if I am a mandated person?

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 (this includes Children’s Officers/Safeguarding Officers in sport, fitness and leisure facilities).

What additional obligations are there for organisations?

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.

What is a Child Safeguarding Statement?

A Child Safeguarding Statement (see template link below) 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.

Who needs to write a Child Safeguarding Statement?

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).

The key points to note for Ireland Active members are:

·         Each facility/group of facilities should identify their ‘Mandated Person’ before 11th December (this could be the current Designated Liaison Person, Safeguarding Officer, Club Children’s Officer, or the CEO/Manager of the facility/group). This person is legally obliged to report concerns of child protection and welfare to Tusla.

·         Each facility should have a Safeguarding Statement no later than 3 months after the commencement of the Act on 11th December (template provided below) and appoint a ‘Relevant Person’ to write the document.

·         The Mandated Person, Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and Relevant Person could in practice be the same person in a small facility. In a larger facility/group the role could be divided between the CEO/Owner who has been assigned the overall responsibility for Safeguarding Children (Mandated Person) and the Duty Manager (who has been assigned the role of Designated Liaison Person and Relevant Person).

·         Although the Mandated Person is legally obliged to report concerns of harm to children, the DLP or any member of staff, the public, parent or child are able to contact Tusla with concerns of harm to children.

·         Joint reporting can be undertaken by the Mandated Person and DLP should a child protection or welfare concern arise

Ireland Active intend to host a seminar in partnership with Tusla in early 2018 to address Children First in more detail.

Tusla Resource Documents:

National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children: http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Children_First_National_Guidance_2017.pdf

A Guide for the Reporting of Child Protection and Welfare Concerns: http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/4214-TUSLA_Guide_to_Reporters_Guide_A4_v3.pdf

Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement (including template below, pages 9 & 10): http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/4214-TUSLA_Guidance_on_Developing_a_CSS_v3.pdf

List of Mandated Persons: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-2017/mandated-persons

15. Person employed in any of the following capacities: (i) safeguarding officer, child protection officer or other person (howsoever described) who is employed for the purpose of performing the child welfare and protection function of religious, sporting, recreational, cultural, educational and other bodies and organisations offering services to children;

List of Relevant Services: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-2017/relevant-services

5. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of—
(a) educational, research, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children,

eLearning (recommended): http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme

Tusla has developed a universal e-learning training programme (1.5 hours) called ‘Introduction to Children First’. The programme has been written to support people of all backgrounds and experience in recognising concerns about children and reporting such concerns if they arise.

Reporting Form (will change from 11th December 2017):

http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/publications-and-forms

Best Practice Principles for Organisations in Developing Children First Training Programmes: http://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_-_Best_Practice_Principles_for_Organisations_in_Developing_Children_First_Training_Programmes.pdf

More information is available here: http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-2017

 

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