HSE Staff and Complaints Officers

Feedback from children and young persons should be encouraged. They should be made aware that their feedback on our services is welcomed and they should be made aware of all the ways they can share their experience.

In responding to feedback from children and young persons, HSE Staff will be guided by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office’s guidelines for child centred complaints handling.

In Ireland under the Child Care Act 1991, the Children Act 2001 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

What is a child-centred approach?

When dealing with a complaint made by or on behalf of a child it is important that consideration is given to the best interests of that child as well as ensuring, in as far as is possible, that their views are also taken into account. It is important to maintain this focus on the child throughout the investigation and be sensitive as to how the process and any potential outcomes will impact on them.

Adopting a child-centred approach means:

  • Adhering to fair complaints procedures.
  • Maintaining a consistent focus on the child (their wishes and best interests)
  • Fully considering the rights of the child

What is the framework for this approach?

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – ratified by Ireland in 1992 giving a binding commitment under international law to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children set out in that agreement.

  • Recognises children as individual rights-holders in all areas of their lives
  • Includes four articles that are given special emphasis which are also known as ‘general principles’.
    • that all the rights guaranteed by the UNCRC must be available to all children without discrimination of any kind (Article 2);
    • that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children (Article 3);
    • that every child has the right to life, survival and development (Article 6); and
    • that the child’s view must be considered and taken into account in all matters affecting him or her (Article 12)
  • Requires the establishment of independent, accessible, safe, effective & child-centred complaints mechanisms for children & their representatives

Why take a child-centred approach?

  • Legitimacy – it is required by international children’s rights law
  • Inclusion – it recognises children’s specific needs
  • Best interests of the child – it is focused on securing the best outcome for the child
  • Empowerment – it recognises children as rights-holders
  • Affirmation – it demonstrates that children are welcome to raise their concerns
  • Accountability – it holds decision-makers to account
  • Quality improvement – it highlights areas that need to be addressed or improved

Care, therefore, must be taken to ensure that children are assisted and supported to make a complaint as well as to partake in the management of that complaint consistent with their best interests. Due consideration will be given to the wishes of the child, in as far as is practicable, and in accordance with their age and understanding.

Children & young people’s views on complaints processes