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Children First

It is HSE policy that all staff irrespective of role, grade or position must promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. It is not okay to do nothing if you have any information that a child has been, is being or is at risk of being abused or neglected.

Children First applies to everyone. The HSE is the largest employer in the State and all HSE staff, staff in HSE funded services and HSE contractors have responsibilities under Children First to keep children safe and to promote their welfare. These responsibilities are especially relevant for health and social care professionals, even if you work in an adult based service. Resources on this website are intended as a guide and do not take the place of legal or other advice

The Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 and the Children First Act 2015.  It describes the four main types of abuse and sets out the steps which should be taken to ensure that the child or young person is protected from harm. 

The Children First Act was fully commenced on 11th December 2017. The Act is an important addition to the child welfare and protection system as it will help to ensure that child protection concerns are brought to the attention of Tusla without delay. The Act is quite significant for the Dublin Midlands Hospitals Group and places significant responsibilities in relation to the safe guarding of children. 

This means that all staff across the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group have a duty to report suspected child protection or welfare concerns to Tusla. If a staff member has a concern that a child or young person may have been, is being, or is at risk of being, abused or neglected you must report this to Tusla - Child and Family Agency following the HSE’s 'Procedure for Reporting a Child Protection or Welfare Concern'. Certain members of staff are Mandated Persons and have additional statutory responsibilities. You can check Schedule 2 of the Children First Act 2015 and find out if you are a Mandated Person.

Training & Support

Over 44,000 staff have completed free online Children First training support. This online training programme is mandatory for all HSE staff. The programme is available on www.hseland.ie.

For additional information see Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 and the information sheet for mandated persons on the HSE Children First website at www.hse.ie/childrenfirst

Child Safeguarding Statement

 The Children First Act 2015 requires organisations that are providers of ‘relevant services’ to prepare a Child Safeguarding Statement. A relevant service is an organisation which provides services to children and young people. A full list of relevant services is available in Schedule 1 Children First Act 2015. The HSE and Dublin Midlands Hospitals Group have many relevant services.

 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.” (Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 p34). The Child Safeguarding Statement includes 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.
This must be completed within three months of the Act commencing and must be reviewed every two years or sooner if there has been a material change to any of the issues to which it refers.

Dublin Midland Hospital Groups Children First Implementation Committee

The Dublin Midland Hospital Groups Children First Implementation Committee has had and will continue to have a central role in developing these statements with the hospitals and the group.

This Committee is chaired by James Conway (Assistant National Director/FOI/Complaints Reviewer/Decision Maker) and are responsible for leading out on the implementation of Children First within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, on behalf of the CEO. The Committee have clear terms of reference and there are representatives from each of the 7 hospitals in the Group. They have responsibility for preparing the Hospital Groups’ Children First Implementation Plan and ensuring implementation and compliance with Children First National Guidance, relevant legislation and HSE policy. 

 The HSE have established a governance structure which is made up of a number of Children First Implementation Committees, including Committees at Hospital Group level. The CEO of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group is responsible for the implementation and compliance with Children First in the Group.

Further Information

The HSE has a lot of information and resources available for staff, which is available on the HSE Children First website HSE Children First Website:  www.hse.ie/childrenfirst

You can contact the Chair person of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Mr. James Conway at: james.conway2@hse.ie

Helen Hanlon and Sharon Shiels are available at: childrenfirst@hse.ie

Tusla and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have developed a number of support documents to help you in understanding your responsibilities in relation to keeping children safe. These documents include: Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017, A Guide for the Reporting of Child Protection and Welfare Concerns, Mandated Assisting Protocol for Tusla Staff and Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement. These are all available on the Tusla website: www.tusla.ie and/or on the DCYA website: www.dcya.gov.ie