Update on procedures on Child Protection 2017
14th December 2017 | What's New
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Minister Zappone, announced the commencement of all remaining provisions of The Children First Act, 2015 on the 11th December 2017. These include the provisions in relation to mandatory reporting of child abuse and in relation to placing a legal obligation on organisations providing services to children(which includes primary schools) to prepare and publish a Child Safeguarding Statement.
On 2nd October, in anticipation of full commencement of the Act, Minister Zappone, launched Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017) which revises and replaces the 2011 edition of the Children First Guidance.
The Children First Act, 2015 provides for a number of key child protection measures that are relevant to primary schools, as follows:
- A requirement on organisations providing services to children, which includes all primary schools, to keep children safe and to produce a Child Safeguarding Statement;
- A requirement on defined categories of persons (mandated persons), which includes registered teachers, to report child protection concerns over a defined threshold to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla);
- A requirement on mandated persons which includes registered teachers, to assist Tusla in the assessment of a child protection risk, if so requested to do so by Tusla.
The commencement of the Children First Act, 2015 and the publication of the new Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 has necessitated changes to the existing Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
The Department of Education and Skills Circular 0081/2017 (published on 11 December, 2017) informs school management authorities that updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 have been developed and published following consultation with the education partners.
The purpose of the new Child Protection Procedures is to give clear direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel in relation to meeting the new statutory obligations under the Children First Act, 2015 and in the continued implementation within the school setting of the best practice (non- statutory) guidance set out in the updated Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.
The updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 include-
- a) the reporting procedures to be followed by registered teachers in respect of their role as mandated persons, including a requirement to liaise with the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and, where applicable, to submit mandated reports jointly with the DLP to Tusla
- b) guidance and direction for schools in relation to meeting their statutory obligations in relation to Child Safeguarding Statements. In that regard, the procedures require that all boards of management use templates published by the Department when preparing, publishing and reviewing their Child Safeguarding Statement.
- c) enhanced oversight measures which are aimed at ensuring full compliance by schools with the Children First Act 2015, Children First National Guidance 2017 and with the Department’s requirements as set out in the Child Protection Procedures for schools.
All of the requirements of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, apart from those relating to a school’s Child Safeguarding Statement, apply to all school personnel and school authorities with effect from 11 December 2017.
From 11 March 2018 the requirement to have a Child Safeguarding Statement replaces the previous requirement to have a child protection policy which was in place under the previous Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools published in 2011.
The updated Child Protection Procedures require that all Boards of Management use the templates published by the Department of Education and Skills when preparing, publishing and reviewing their Child Safeguarding Statement. The following are the templates that are required to be used by Boards of Management;
- Template 1:Child Safeguarding Risk Assessment Template
- Template 2:Child Safeguarding Statement Template
- Template 3:Checklist for Review of the Child Safeguarding Statement
- Template 4: Notification regarding the Board of Management’s review of the Child Safeguarding Statement
Examples of activities, risks and procedures:
- The examples listed in this document are provided to assist schools in undertaking their risk assessment under the Children First Act, 2015. Schools should note that this list of examples is not intended to be exhaustive. It is the responsibility of each school to ensure, as far as possible, that any other risks and procedures that are relevant to its own particular circumstances are identified and specified in the written risk assessment and that adequate procedures are in place to address all risks identified.
- It is important to note that risk in the context of this risk assessment is the risk of “harm” as defined in the Children First Act, 2015 and not general health and safety risk. The definition of harm is set out in chapter 4 of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017.
Click on the link to access each of the templates: Child Safeguarding and Risk Assessment templates (.docx – 33 KB)
CPSMA will be providing training to Boards of Management, early in 2018, to help Boards of Management meet their statutory obligations. This training will highlight the requirements of the Children First Act, 2015, the updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 and the updated Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. Further details of the dates and venues for training will be published in the CPSMA Newsletter, January 2018.