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Children First Act 2015

By: Alison Kelleher | Posted on: 21 Dec 2017

The operative final stage of the Children First Act 2015 commenced on December 11th 2017.

The Act places a wide range of responsibilities on childcare services and professionals working with children. Of particular importance are the obligations placed on both ‘mandated persons’ and ‘relevant services’.

Mandated Persons:

‘Mandated persons’ are those professionals who routinely work with children, and where their training, qualifications, and professional experience make them well equipped to recognise risks to children. This definition includes all medical practitioners, nurses, and social workers.

 Under the Children First Act 2015, mandated persons must:

  • Report harm of children above a defined threshold to Tusla;
  • Help Tusla, if requested, in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report.

Relevant Services – Requirement for a Child Safeguarding Statement

A ‘relevant service’ is defined as a service involved in any work or activity which consists mainly of persons having access to, or contact with, children. This definition includes schools, hospitals, and any provision of educational, recreational, leisure, social and physical activities to children.

Relevant services are required to undertake an assessment of risk of child abuse while children are availing of its services, and use this as the basis for developing a Child Safeguarding Statement.

Safeguarding Statement

This 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.

The statement must also include an assessment of risk of harm to a child while availing of the service and specifies the procedures in place to manage any identified risks.

Finally, the statement must identify  a “relevant person”, to be the first point of contact in respect of the provider’s Child Safeguarding Statement.   

The Statement must be completed within three months of the commencement the Act (ie by 11th March 2018).

Conclusion

It is therefore vital that all mandated persons and relevant services become familiar with their legal obligations under the Act.  

 

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