The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone T.D., has today marked the first anniversary of the full commencement of the Children First Act 2015.
Speaking today the Minister said, “11 December 2018 marks the first anniversary of a significant milestone in our efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect. This day last year I commenced the final provisions in the Children First Act, placing a legal obligation on certain categories of persons to report serious child protection concerns to Tusla and improving child protection arrangements in organisations providing services to children”.
The Minister highlighted the significant impact that the Act has had, noting that “between December last year and the end of September this year Tusla received almost 9,500 mandated reports of children who may have been harmed or who may be at risk of harm and have been able to take steps to support the children that need help.”
The Minister also highlighted the work that has been done, in organisations that provide relevant services to children, to prepare and publish Child Safeguarding Statements saying “Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility and I would like to commend the organisations across the country that have put time and effort into developing their Child Safeguarding Statements. Your work will help to keep children safe as they engage in educational, sporting and other activities.”
The Minister also encouraged all organisations working with children to check their responsibilities under Children First to ensure that they are in compliance and reminded people that a range of resources are available to support the implementation of Children First, saying “Tusla has produced a range of great resources to support you in implementing Children First. In particular, a 90 minute e-learning training module is available free of charge on their website. I would urge anyone working with children or anyone who is unsure of what to do when they suspect a child is at risk to complete the training. Almost 177,000 people have so far taken the time to do this and they are now better equipped to recognise and respond to child protection concerns”.
Taken together, the Children First Act, the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016, represent a significant legislative framework to promote the safety and protection of children. Recognising this the Minister said “Much has been achieved in recent years to safeguard and protect our children but we cannot afford to become complacent. We must all continue to work together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child.”