Children First is a national policy document which promotes the safety and well-being of all children. Under Children First all organisations who are involved with children have an obligation to provide them with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and safeguard them from abuse.
Children First is intended to assist people in identifying and reporting child protection and welfare concerns and outlines how to deal effectively with concerns. It highlights the role and responsibilities of everyone in protecting children and promoting their welfare.
Please select the different categories of staff to find out more about the roles and responsibilities applicable to that category:
All HSE Staff
The policy of the HSE is that ALL HSE STAFF irrespective of grade or position have a responsibility under Children First to protect children and to promote their welfare.
(PDF, 1,041 KB, 2 pages)
Download and read about the responsibilities of ALL HSE staff (PDF, 1,041 KB, 2 pages) under Children First.
Check Schedule 2 of the Children First Act 2015 to find out if you are a Mandated Person.
Mandated persons have two main legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015:
- To report harm of children, above a defined threshold, to Tusla - Child and Family Agency
- To assist Tusla, if requested, in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report
The section for Mandated Persons has more information.
All staff have responsibilities to protect children and promote their welfare. Some HSE staff have additional responsibilities. For example certain grades of HSE staff are Designated Officers.
(PDF, 1,084 KB, 2 pages)
You can check if you are a Designated Officer and your responsibilities (PDF, 1,084 KB, 2 pages) under Children First.
HSE Line Managers
In addition to the responsibilities that all HSE staff have, if you are a line manager or have managerial responsibilities then you play a crucial role in safeguarding children and Children First compliance in the HSE.
The welfare and protection of children is the responsibility of all staff however line managers and/or staff with managerial responsibilities must be aware of and understand their roles and responsibilities in terms of child safeguarding legislation and policy.
Watch this short video for HSE Line Managers on their Child Safeguarding Roles and Responsibilities in accordance with Children First and the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy:
It is also recommended that you watch the HSE Line Managers Children First Briefing video which covers additional information on key child safeguarding legislation and policy. This video includes sections on: Reporting Child Protection and Welfare Concerns, Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017, the Children First Act 2015 and Sharing Information and Record Keeping in relation to Child Protection and Welfare Concerns:
Additionally, a Children First Resource Pack for HSE Line Managers and staff with managerial responsibilities has been developed to help provide knowledge, information and key resources available to support this role from a Children First perspective.
(PDF, 3 MB, 14 pages)
Download the Children First Resource Pack for HSE Line Managers (PDF, 3 MB, 14 pages)
HSE Service Managers
In addition to the responsibilities that all HSE staff and line managers have, if you are a HSE Service Manager you have additional responsibilities in safeguarding children and Children First compliance in the HSE.
As a HSE Service Manager it is your responsibility to:
- Ensure that the mandatory Children First e-Learning programme is being completed by all staff under your remit and that there is oversight of this. Certificates are valid for three years and the programme needs to be completed again when certificates expire.
- Ensure that the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy is incorporated into the induction process for all new staff. Staff sign the signature sheet in Appendix 3 of the HSE Child Protection and Welfare Policy (or an equivalent version of it) to acknowledge that they are aware of the policy and understand their roles and responsibilities. Evidence of the signed staff signature sheet should be retailed on file.
- Ensure that all ‘relevant services’ to children and families under your remit have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place. This is a written statement, informed by a risk assessment, 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. The Child Safeguarding Statement should be displayed in a prominent, public place and furnished to all staff.
- Ensure that the HSE Children First Compliance Self-Audit Checklist has been completed to ensure the compliance of your service with the relevant organisational requirements under Children First.
Additionally, HSE Service Managers should monitor and advise on any issues affecting the implementation of Children First in your area of responsibility.
How to Report a Child Protection or Welfare Concern
All HSE personnel have a duty to report suspected child abuse, neglect or welfare concerns.
The following section outlines the Reporting Procedure for HSE staff who have a Child Protection or Welfare concern.