Children First Implementation
Children First implementation relates to the implementation of the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, and of the Children First Act 2015.
The Guidance has been in place since 1999, and has been in operation in sectors dealing with children since that time, including schools, hospitals, sporting organisations, child care settings and youth work. The enactment of the Children First Act 2015, which puts elements of the Guidance on a statutory footing, has brought a renewed focus to supporting individuals and organisations to meet their statutory and non statutory Children First obligations.
Children First Publications
Sectoral Implementation Plan - Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Section 27 of the Children First Act 2015 requires each Minister of the Government to prepare and publish a Sectoral Implementation Plan. The Plan outlines the programme of measures taken or proposed to be taken by or on behalf of the Minister to ensure that the Department and any body that provides a relevant service and receives funding from the Department comply with the provisions of the Act and of the guidelines issued by the Minister under Section 6 of the Act.
The Plan contains information about -
a) relevant services provided by or on behalf of the Department;
b) measures taken or proposed to be taken to promote, review and report on compliance with the provisions of the Act and of the guidelines issued by the Minister under Section 6;
c) monitoring and review procedures, and
d) such other matters (if any) as the Minister considers appropriate.
In line with the provisions of the Act, the Plan will be reviewed no later than March 2021.
Child Safeguarding Statement - Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Section 11 of the Children First Act 2015 requires providers of services to children to prepare a Child Safeguarding Statement. The Statement must contain the following:
a) A written assessment of risk;
b) the procedures that are in place to manage the risk;
c) Procedures in place as listed in subsection 3, including in relation to recruitment, reporting of child protection concerns to Tusla, provision of information to staff etc.
The contact person for the purposes of the Child safeguarding Statement is the Personnel Officer, Ms. Vera Mc Grath.
In line with the provisions of the Act, the Statement will be reviewed no later than March 2020.
Children First Interdepartmental Implementation Group (CFIDIG)
A significant provision in the Children First Act 2015 (Sections 20-26) is the establishment of the CFIDIG. Membership of the CFIDIG includes all Government Departments, Tusla, the HSE and An Garda Síochána. This reflects the importance that is being attached by all Departments, sectors, agencies and services in fully complying with the ethos of Children First, and their specific statutory and non-statutory responsibilities.
The CFIDIG will be required to keep under review the implementation across the Public Sector of the Children First legislation and the Guidance, and to report on an annual basis to the Minister. The Children First Act requires every Department to prepare a Sectoral Implementation Plan as soon as may be after commencement of Section 27 of the Act.
While Departments and Agencies are responsible for child protection issues arising in their own sphere of responsibility, the CFIDIG provides a forum at which child safeguarding issues with a cross-Departmental focus can be raised as required.
The First Annual Report of the Group can be found below.
Information and training resources to support Children First implementation
The Minister has committed to full commencement of the remaining provisions of the Act on 11th December 2017. In preparation for this, the Department and Tusla have developed a suite of resources to support the full implementation of the Act. This includes the revision of the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children  and the Tusla resources below that can be accessed on the Tusla website.
a) Guide for reporters;
b) Mandated assisting protocol
c) Guide to developing a Child Safeguarding Statement.
In addition, Tusla has developed a comprehensive Children First e-learning module which is universally available, free of charge and sets out the basic information required to recognise and report child welfare and protection concerns.