Children First Implementation
The Children First Bill, 2014, which will put elements of the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011) on a statutory footing was published by the Houses of the Oireachtas on 14 April 2014 (Children First Bill 2014). The introduction of this legislation has been a key Programme for Government commitment, and will form part of a suite of child protection legislation which already includes the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, 2012 and the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. The Bill has passed all stages in both Houses of the Oireachtas and the Bill was signed into law by the President on 19 November 2015. The provisions of the legislation will only come into force when brought into effect by regulation of the Minister. CF Act 2015.
In parallel with the development of legislative proposals to put Children First on a statutory footing, significant work has been undertaken to achieve full and consistent implementation of the revised Guidance. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has established a Children First Implementation Inter-Departmental Group (CFIDG), at which key Government Departments and also the Child and Family Agency and An Garda Siochána are represented, to bring central government oversight to the implementation process. The direct responsibility for implementation rests at organisation level in line with the Guidance and the proposed legislation.
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. The Government approved the first set of Plans on 16 July 2013. Each Department's revised and updated Children First Sectoral Plan will be available at the following links:
The Departments below are currently represented on the CFIDG, along with the DCYA. Their initial 2013 Children First Sectoral Implementation Plan can be found by clicking on the links below:
Department of Education and Skills
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
Department of Justice and Equality
Dept of Social Protection
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Department of Health
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the CFIDG continue to work in cooperation with the Child and Family Agency in relation to key issues and priorities such as the provision of information, training and advice to relevant organisations/sectors and the development of a website and a communications strategy in relation to Children First.
A significant provision in the Children First legislation is the underpinning on a statutory basis of the Children First Interdepartmental Group. This Group, which will include a representative of all Government Departments, will be required to keep under review, the implementation of this legislation and the Children First Guidance, and to report on an annual basis to the Minister.