The HSE Children First National Office has launched a revised HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy.
The policy aligns with the requirements outlined under the Children First Act 2015 and the principles of the Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.
Consultations in relation to the policy took place in early 2018 and the majority of feedback was taken on board to help improve the policy and make it as user friendly as possible in practice.
It is important that all staff are familiar with the policy. It outlines the following:
- How to respond to a disclosure of abuse from a child or an adult
- How to determine if a concern meets the threshold for reporting to Tusla - Child and Family Agency
- How to make a report
- What and how to record
- Information on your role and responsibilities
The policy consists of two parts - A and B.
- Part A (Staff Guide), contains the procedures that staff must adhere to in relation to managing a child protection and welfare concern.
- Part B (Development Cycle) is a separate document that provides detail regarding the development and review of the policy.
The policy contains a visual algorithm of the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Reporting Procedure, which clearly outlines the key steps you must take if you have a child protection or welfare concern. It might be a useful to hang it beside your desk! The policy also contains the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Information Sharing Framework and the Notification to An Garda Síochána form which are all accessible below:
All staff will be required to read and adhere to Part A (Staff guide).
HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy Briefing
This briefing gives an overview of what is contained in the policy.
It focuses specifically on Section 2 - Guiding Principles, Section 4 - Roles and Responsibilities, Section 5 - Reporting Procedure and Section 7 - Information Sharing Procedures and Confidentiality.
However, each section of this policy is important and all staff must ensure that they familiarise themselves with the policy in full as this briefing is not a substitute for reading the policy.
Key messages from the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy are:
- The safety and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility.
- All staff have a responsibility to report concerns to Tusla - Child and Family Agency without delay, where there is a reasonable concern in relation to the safety or welfare of a child.
- The best interests of the child should be paramount.
- Early intervention is key to better outcomes.
- A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights, needs and duties of others, such as HSE staff, parents/carers and families. Where there is conflict, the child's welfare must come first.
- Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously. Taking account of their age and understanding, they should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives.
- All children must be treated equally and have the right to be protected from harm and discrimination.
- Parents have a right to respect, and should be consulted and involved in matters that concern their family, unless to do so would put the child at risk of harm.
- Child protection is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary activity. Agencies and professionals must work together in the interests of children.
- Accurate, secure records should be kept of all child protection or welfare concerns.
- Information should be shared, as necessary, on a need-to-know basis, in order to ensure the safety and welfare of the child