July 31st, 2008
The HSE has today, Wednesday, July 31st, welcomed the publication of three background reports on the review of the Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children:
- National Review of Compliance with Children First, National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children
- Analysis of submissions made on National Review of Compliance with Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children
- Service Users' perceptions of the Irish Child Protection System by Dr. Helen Buckley.
Today's publications provide an important overview on the implementation of the Children First guidelines.
The HSE recognises that one of the reports - the Service Users Perceptions Report - was based on a very small sample of services users and was therefore unrepresentative and this was acknowledged today by its author Dr Helen Buckley.
While the HSE noted references in Dr Buckley's report from service users describing social workers as "lacking in empathy", we would equally note and recognise her reference to reports of social workers considered to be "understanding, kind and calm." The HSE always welcomes feedback from service users and applies this knowledge when planning and delivering services.
Welcoming the reports today, Mr Aidan Waterstone, HSE Childcare and Family Specialist said the HSE was "very pleased that the Children First guidelines are currently being reviewed as they are an essential element of child protection services. We are currently in the process of re-focusing childcare services from an emphasis on risk to an emphasis on need. The information in the three research documents is very informative and useful."
Acknowledging the comments in the reports on inconsistencies in reporting arrangements across the country, Mr Waterstone stressed that the HSE was "actively engaged in a process of standardisation across the country. We are striving to ensure that we achieve high standards on a consistent basis. The establishment of the HSE as a single national health service provided us with the opportunity to achieve this."
The HSE today welcomed the finding of the reports that the majority of respondents reported that the guidelines are working well, or well "to some extent." According to Mr Waterstone: It is often inevitable that child protection services by their nature are viewed as an unwelcome intrusion into the life of many families. It is therefore noteworthy that four out of ten of the respondents in the research sought out contact with these services, and many had positive things to report about the services they subsequently received."
Mr Waterstone continued: "We are constantly striving to provide a client-centred response, especially for those individuals who find themselves in particularly difficult circumstances when children are taken into our care."
Among the significant successes achieved since the publication of the guidelines has been the work carried out by Children First Information and Advice Officers in facilitating inter-agency work and supporting voluntary and community agencies to develop child protection policies and practices. Over the past twelve months the HSE has launched several child protection initiatives including the public awareness campaign- Parents Who Listen Protect -with a second phase of this initiative will be rolled out shortly.
The HSE is continuing to develop early intervention and family support services, demonstrating that that these services are the most effective mechanism in addressing child welfare issues.
The HSE has worked closely with the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Mr Barry Andrews TD in relation to the production of a revised Children First document and it is anticipated that this will be completed later this year.
For further information contact:
Head of National Press Office
Last updated on: 31 / 07 / 2008