Children First

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Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for the care and protection of their children. While the role of parents is to protect their children, society also has a duty to promote the welfare and safety of children. Everyone should be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be being abused or at risk of being abused.

The process of identifying and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect can be difficult for both the person who makes the report and the families involved. However, a failure to act when abuse or neglect is occurring can result in children being left in harmful situations, and could potentially result in long term damage to their well-being.  Acting sensitively but responsibly is a universal duty.

Child welfare and protection policy is based on a legal framework provided primarily by the Child Care Act 1991 and the Children First Act 2015. The policy and practice that applies in this area is outlined in the Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Childrenlaunched on 2nd October 2017 and this Guidance is a primary reference for all citizens to report concerns and includes the new legislative obligations.

Children First National Guidance describes the four main types of abuse and sets out the steps which should be taken to ensure that the child or young person is protected from harm. It has been updated to include new information about the Children First Act 2015 and it includes specific information for the professionals and organisations that now have legal obligations to keep children safe. The focus of this Guidanceis to help a general audience recognise child abuse and report a reasonable concern about a child’s welfare or protection.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has established a Children First Implementation Inter-Departmental Group (CFIDG) to bring central government oversight to the implementation process.  The direct responsibility for implementation rests at organisational level in line with the Guidance. Each Department represented on the Group has prepared a Children First Sectoral Implementation Plan.  These Implementation Plans are designed to be high level documents setting out implementation requirements for the parent Department and for agencies under its aegis which have contact with children and young people.

The Plans set out the mechanisms in place, or to be put in place, to support the continued implementation of Children First Guidance at sectoral level. They are for a period of three years, at which time they will be reviewed.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Children First Sectoral Implementation Plan can be accessed here

Last modified:07/01/2019

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