Child Safeguarding for Parents

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

The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care

The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care was set up in 2012 following a number of developments in the Early Years Sector, including the establishment of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2011 and the launch of the updated publication of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, also in 2011. The Children First National Guidance was fully revised and published in 2017 to include reference to the Children First Act 2015. The Committee was developed with the primary aim of addressing the implementation of Children First in the Early Years Sector. 

The Committee is charged with coordinating the delivery of Child Protection Training nationally in a consistent approach. Thus a Sectoral Training Plan was developed under four headings:

  • Training
  • Communication
  • Policy & Procedure
  • Quality Assurance

The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care website www.childsafeguardingelc.ie is full of Early Learning and Care sector specific child safeguarding training and resources, which were developed in conjunction with Tusla. It is a ‘one stop shop’ for all Child Safeguarding resources for Early Learning and Care Services in Ireland as detailed below. You can also follow them on Twitter at@safeguardingelc

The website includes:

  • Information for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services including all relevant Child Protection resources and publications.
  • Information for Parents section which includes an Information Leaflet for Parents on Child Safeguarding in Early Learning and Care services. 
  • Information for Third level providers
  • Information on Child Protection training

Included on the website is the updated Child Safeguarding Statement Template and accompanying Information Sheet for Early Learning and Care services.  This resource has been developed in conjunction with the Tusla Child Safeguarding Statement Compliance Unit and will help services to develop a strong, robust Child Safeguarding Statement that is individual and unique to their service.  The template and accompanying information sheet attached outlines the exact steps that services are required to follow to develop their 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.  Upon completion, the Child Safeguarding Statement must be shared with all staff members, displayed in a prominent place in the service and made available to parents and guardians, Tusla and members of the public upon request.

Further information can be found here https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/what-is-a-child-safeguarding-statement/

Click on the documents below to view the updated Child Safeguarding Statement and Information Sheet:

Child Safeguarding Statement ELC TEMPLATE

Child Safeguarding Statement ELC Information Sheet

What should parents/carers expect from an Early Learning and Care Service?

  • It is a legal requirement that all Early Learning and Care Services are registered with Tusla.
  • A Child Safeguarding Statement that is clearly visible to all who enter the service. The purpose of this Child Safeguarding Statement is to ensure that children are safeguarded while availing of the service
  • A Child Safeguarding Policy that outlines the roles and responsibilities of staff in relation to Child Protection and Welfare concerns. Specifically, this policy should outline reporting procedures and procedures for dealing with allegations made against staff and volunteers within the service
  • A Code of Behaviour within the Child Safeguarding Policy that outlines the standard expected from all employees and explains what is acceptable and what is not when employees are working with children.
  • A Safe Recruitment Policy, based on Tusla’s ‘Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice’
  • All Early Learning and Care Services should have a training strategy in place to ensure that ALL STAFF receive training on Children First.

What is Children First?

Children First: National Guidance outlines that all organisations working with children, including Early Learning and Care Services should create a culture of safety that promotes the welfare of children and young people availing of their services. ELC services are also defined as ‘relevant services’ in the Children First Act 2015 and have specific statutory obligations under the Act to keep children safe whilst they are availing of the service The Children First Act 2015 places specific obligations on organisations which provide services to children and young people. One of these obligations is to report Child Protection and Welfare concerns above a defined threshold to Tusla.

What to do if you have a concern?

If parents have a concern relating to Child Protection and Welfare they should contact their local Tusla Duty Social Work Department

If parents have a concern relating to standards of care within an Early Learning and Care Service they can contact the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate

Tusla's Register of Early Years Services

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