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Public Health Nurse outlines importance of Children First

Juliette O’Sullivan Public Health Nurse at Millmount Health Centre Dublin
With National Children First Awareness Week running  from November 1st to 7th, Juliette O’Sullivan, Public Health Nurse at Millmount Health Centre, Dublin outlines how the aim of the week is to raise awareness of Children First and remind wider society, including organisations working with children and young people, of our collective responsibility to keep them safe in our communities: “The role of the public health nurse and their interaction with children and families starts on day one from when the child comes home from the maternity hospital right through to the age of four. I have a very good relationship with families in my area it’s a support and guidance relationship. We have lots of local supports in the community like occupational therapy, psychology, speech and language and family support services.”


Children First promotes the protection of children from abuse and neglect, by setting out what individuals and organisations need to do to keep children safe, and how to deal with concerns about a child’s safety or welfare.


HSE Policy states that all staff irrespective of role, grade or position must promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Juliette notes: “Children First is the policy that we are guided by and we also have the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy as well. It guides me as a public health nurse. I am also a mandated person and a designated officer under that Child Care act. That basically means I have a legal responsibility to refer any child protection or welfare concern to Tusla.”


Services working with children and classed as relevant services under the Children First Act 2015 must have a risk assessment completed and have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place.


The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of communities and organisations working together. With the resumption of many services, clubs and groups, organisations working with children and young people are being reminded of their responsibilities under the Children First Act 2015.


“It’s very important that all organisations work together, be it the public health nurse, the guard, the teacher, the social worker and Tusla and every member of the community to safeguard the children in our community. If I have a child protection and welfare concern, I would discuss this with the family for support reasons we would then refer into Tusla via their portal,” says Juliette.