From 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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
From 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: Basic Level. This training is a quality assured child protection training course tailored to the needs of the sector. It will be rolled out over 3 years to workers in both services and home-based settings.