This document is aimed at staff, volunteers, participants and parents of participants involved in programmes run by Carlow County Development Partnership CLG.
Clarification of terms
CPO Child Protection Officer
HSE Health Service Executive
CCDP Carlow County Development Partnership
Participant A person participating in a Carlow County Development Partnership CLG run programme
We at Carlow County Development Partnership recognise that the welfare of children is paramount and are committed to best practice in accordance with Child Protection and Welfare Guidelines. which promotes the general welfare, health, development and safety of children and protects them from harm of all kinds
We will endeavour to safeguard children by:
- Following carefully the procedures for recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers in line with CCDP’s Volunteer policy and Integrated Human Resource Handbook
- Adopting child protection guidelines through the Code of Behaviour and Best Practice for staff and volunteers when working with young people (page 9)
- Providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training.
- Having a detailed Reporting Procedure in place for staff and volunteers who have a concern about the welfare of young person. (page 15)
- CCDP’s Child Protection Policy adheres to National Policy Guidelines and Best Practice. Our Designated Child Protection Officer will attend regular training with key agencies that have a remit in the area of Child Protection. The Child Protection Policy will be reviewed annually.
- Informing parents, children and staff on how to voice their concerns or complain if there is anything they are not happy about.
- All staff, volunteers, parents and children will be made familiar with CCDP’s Child Protection Policy document. This will be done by induction and training for staff and volunteers. Parents will be advised by letter and through information on Application/Permission Forms of the policy and invited to read a copy.
TEXT OF THE POLICY
This Policy was formed from and adheres to the following documents
Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011
The Children First Guidelines were issued by the Department of Children and Youth affairs in 2011 and outline procedures, which all organisations dealing with children and young people should put in place. They state that all such organisations should put in place a child protection policy tailored to their specific needs. This policy should outline the procedures and arrangements in place to protect children in line with “Children First”.
Our Duty to Care
Our Duty to Care was published by the Department of Health and Children in October 2002. It offers a practical guide to staff and volunteers who work with children by outlining a number of fundamental principles of good practice.
National Children’s Strategy
The overall vision of this strategy is; ‘An Ireland where children are respected as young citizens with a valued contribution to make and a voice of their own; where all children are cherished and supported by family and the wider society; where they enjoy a fulfilling childhood and realise their potential.’
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN in 1989 and ratified by Ireland in 1992. The National Children’s Strategy is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as such, sets out the vision for children in Ireland over a ten-year period. We believe that all work with children and young people should, by its very nature, recognise, implement and promote the fundamental tenets of the Convention.
The Child Care Act, 1991 defines a child as someone under 18 years of age who is not married. The UN Convention defines a child as someone under 18 years of age and the National Children’s Strategy in Ireland, similarly defines a child as someone less than 18 years of age, who is not married.
MANAGEMENT OF STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
All staff and volunteers will adhere to relevant policy including CCDP’s Integrated Human Resource Handbook or CCDP’s Volunteer Policy.
Induction training for any new staff/volunteers engaging with children will include training on the CCDP Child Protection Policy and Code of Behaviour.
All staff, students, volunteers whether temporary or permanent are required to sign the Acceptance of CCDP Child Protection Policy form.(Appendix 10)
All staff of CCDP engaging with children will be expected to participate in relevant training from time to time. Those working directly with children/young people must have received some training on the issue of child protection.
CCDP will co-ordinate the training needs of all staff, students and volunteers in relation to Child Protection. It is recognised that on-going study and training will enhance the job performance of staff.
Where young people, under 18 years, are assisting in the work of CCDP, they will receive appropriate information on the Child Protection Policy and Code of Behaviour at a level suitable to their age and experience. These young people will always work in partnership with or under the supervision of an adult.
Supervision and Support of Staff and Volunteers
Staff is supported by their direct Line Manager while volunteers are supported through their assigned Development Worker
When external supervision or counselling is needed the staff member will report to the relevant development or line manager and CCDP will endeavour to provide this.
Extract from volunteer Policy
4:1 The purpose of establishing ongoing support procedures for Volunteers is threefold:
- It enables CCDP to monitor and evaluate the work of the Volunteer with reference to previously agreed tasks and to jointly address identified needs
- It will also provide the Volunteer with ongoing access to support in their role.
- To improve the Volunteer’s competence and satisfaction in their role and to encourage and celebrate their achievements.
Each Volunteer will have the support of a designated Development Worker for the day-to-day line-management and support of that Volunteer. One to one meetings will be held between the Development Worker and the Volunteer on a monthly basis to discuss the Volunteers progress. Lines of communication will be encouraged to operate formally and informally between the Volunteer and the Development Workers.
4:2 Volunteers leaving the organisation will be invited to partake in informal exit interview. Such interviews will be conducted with the Volunteer’s Development Worker and an agreed written record will be kept. This interview will contribute important information as to the reasons the Volunteer is leaving, their experience of volunteering and offer them a forum to make suggestions on how the specific voluntary role could be improved in the future. Participation in such exit interviews, while encouraged, will be entirely the choice of the Volunteer. Every reasonable effort will be made to make the Volunteers time with CCDP a mutually happy and rewarding experience.
KEEPING PARENTS / GUARDIANS INFORMED
Carlow County Development Partnership will keep parents and guardians informed of programmes that their child is involved in. It is our policy to share information relating to the programme of activities, trips away, transport to and from events, etc. with the parents/guardians.
Parents will be asked to fill out a relevant form when registering their child for CCDP run activities. On occasion Parent Consent forms will be used when participants are attending trips or activities that are not part of the normal programme. All details on these activities/trips will be attached to these forms.
In any event that there is an incident or a disclosure which requires information to be shared with the HSE or the An Garda Siochana, parents should be notified unless doing so is likely to endanger the young person.
A full copy of the CCDP’s Child Protection Policy will be made available for downloading at our website www.carlowdevelopment.ie
Information about CCDP and its activities is also available through its website. Information leaflets and notices are available at our premises. Parents are reminded and encouraged to contact local CCDP staff or CCDP head office for any further queries:
Carlow County Development Partnership
CCDP recognises the need for confidentiality. Confidentiality is about managing sensitive information that arises in a trusting relationship and doing so in a manner that is respectful, professional and purposeful. All staff and volunteers must adhere to CCDP’s Confidentiality Statement
Staff will ensure that all application forms, medical information, contracts of employment, completed disclosure forms, incidents book are stored in a secure place. All confidential material will be kept in locked storage cabinets and access will only be given to the Designated Child Protection Officer. All staff members will adhere to the following guidelines and will be trained accordingly:
- All information regarding concern or assessment of child abuse should be shared on “a need to know” basis in order to safe guard the child.
- No undertakings regarding secrecy will be given, this will be made clear to the family and all parties involved.
- Information gathered for one purpose will not be used for another without consulting the person who provided the information.
- Parents/carers/older children will be informed or consulted with at each stage of the Reporting Procedure.
- Giving information to others for the protection of the child is not a breach of confidentiality.
- A Confidentiality statement outlining the above will be signed by all staff and volunteers during induction.
In relation to informing parents/guardians the appropriate development worker with the support of the Child Protection Officer of CCDP, will firstly inform parents/guardians in the event of any child protection or welfare referral, unless this could put the child in danger.
Every effort should be made to reassure and support the young person and that information which the worker needs to disclose will be dealt with in a respectful manner and shared with those who need to know in order to safe guard them. Those working directly with a child and family should make this clear to all parties involved.
CODE OF BEHAVIOUR & BEST PRACTICE
for staff & volunteers in CCDP when working with children
Good practice helps protect children and young people from harm, it also provides guidance on safe practice for workers. Our code of behaviour helps minimise the opportunity for children and young people to suffer harm and helps protect our workers and volunteers against false allegations. Formalising this code of behaviour ensures consistency and quality of practice throughout CCDP and ensures that all volunteers and staff are aware of what is expected of them and of what is unacceptable behaviour. This creates a safe, enjoyable and comfortable environment for the young people we work with. The welfare of young people is paramount in all decisions, activities and programmes involving young people and children at CCDP.
CCDP promote and train staff on the importance of:
- listening to children
- valuing and respecting children as individuals
- involving children in decision-making, as appropriate
- encouraging and praising children to develop as responsible members of society.
CCDP believe the safety and well being of the child is paramount and that the personal space, safety and privacy of individuals is respected. We will not tolerate any of the following from staff or volunteers:-
- Aggression, whether it be verbal, psychological or physical
- Dangerous behaviour e.g. horseplay
- Sexually suggestive comments or fun directed to or in the presence of children.
- Inappropriate touching or physical contact with a young person
- Physical punishment or verbal abuse.
Staff is advised to be aware of the risks involved in:
- Taking part in contact sports or other activities.
- Using physical contact as a valid way of comforting, reassuring and showing concern for children. It should only take place when it is acceptable to all persons concerned.
- Developing favouritism or spending more time with any one child.
- No worker should give lifts in their cars to young people.
- Youth should never be left unattended.
- Young people should be encouraged to report cases of bullying to either a designated person, or a worker of their choice. The Company’s Anti-Bullying policy when working with children will be followed in the event of such a complaint (appendix 13)
Staff/volunteer leaders should be sensitive to the risks involved in participating in some contact sports with young people and exercise particular caution in areas such as swimming pools.
Staff/volunteer youth leaders should be sensitive to the fact that jokes of a sexual nature may be offensive to others and should ensure that such jokes are never told in the presence of children and young volunteers.
Staff/volunteer leaders should never touch a young person unnecessarily. This should not exclude normal expressions of warmth or happiness provided they are acceptable to all parties concerned. Physical contact should only be in response to the needs of the child and should be appropriate to the age and level of development of the child.
Staff/volunteer leaders should never physically punish or in any way be verbally abusive to a young person
Safe management practices involves:
- Good management practices
- Supervising children in all activities
- Knowing how to deal with discipline and challenging behavior
- Providing training for all workers
- Supervision and support of workers
Staff/volunteer leaders need to be sensitive to the potential risk of false allegations and to their personal safety, which arise when they meet alone with a young person in a room. Where it is feasible they should leave the door slightly ajar or inform another colleague that they will be alone in the room with the individual in question.
Staff / volunteer leaders are not permitted to give lifts in their cars to individual young people alone. Staff/volunteer leaders must not become over involved or spend a great deal of time with any one person.
Staff/Volunteer leaders need to be clear about the purpose and nature of their relationship with any young person e.g. is the relationship constructive in building up the independence and autonomy of a person or is it being used to satisfy some need or desire of the worker/volunteer?
Where a staff member/ volunteer leader has such a concern about the nature of a particular relationship with a young person, they should discuss it with their allocated development worker. Similarly long term ‘helping’ or ‘support’ relationships, which arise in one’s work, should also be reviewed on a regular basis by each project.
Staff/volunteer leaders/facilitators should always be respectful of the privacy of young people in dormitories, changing rooms, showers and toilets. When present in such areas, workers are advised not to spend time alone with a young person.
When working with children who may have a disability, leaders are required to be aware of specific considerations including behavioural and communication issues, intimate care needs, access to buildings, range and choice of activities and any other matters that may need addressing. Where appropriate specific training, including disability awareness and child protection training, should be undertaken by staff and volunteer leaders.
Staff/volunteer leaders/facilitators should also ensure in so far as is reasonably possible that buildings or facilities, which they use for activities with young people, are safe, secure and comply with insurance requirements at all times. All occupied parts of the building should be monitored and parts not in use should be isolated or secured.
Staff/volunteer leaders should always know in advance who is running/ facilitating / on duty with a group – this information/schedule should be displayed clearly for leaders.
All staff/volunteers should ensure that there are sufficient staff/facilitators/volunteers available to:
- Ensure maximum safety, participation, learning and fun in activities.
- Anticipate and control disruptive behaviour by young people by setting clear boundaries and maintaining a group contract.
When dealing with disruptive individuals on a one-to-one basis, it is always recommended that, where possible you are accompanied by another member of staff/facilitation/volunteer team.
Keep a record of any complaints about or incidences involving workers/children/young people or parents. It is recommend that instances of disruptive/challenging behaviour which require the intervention of a youth worker/ volunteer leader and which put at risk the safety and well being of others be documented and recorded in an Incident Folder (see appendix 6) set aside for this purpose. This folder should be available to other workers/volunteer leaders involved with the group. All instances of disruptive behaviour are to be reported within relevant projects. The Incident Book should record:
- The programme or activity which was happening at the time
- Date of incident
- A record of what happened
- Details of who was involved
- Details of where and when it happened
- What was said if significant
- Any injury to person or property
- Details of how the situation was resolved or left
Trips Away From Home
When taking young people away on trips leaders should always be attentive to matters such as:
- Adhering to CCDP’s child protection policy and procedures primarily and that of the host /partnering organisation.
- Safety – in organising all activities, in the use buildings of facilities and when using all forms of transport.
- Insurance – ensure it is adequate to cover all aspects of the trip.
- Parental/Guardian Consent – leaders should have written consent from parents and or guardians before taking young people away on trips.(appendix 2)
- Ensuring that they are made aware of any medical information which might be relevant e.g. allergies, medication, dietary requirements. This information should be recorded
- Sleeping arrangements – sleeping areas for males and females should be in separate and supervised quarters and should be supervised by two (if possible) leaders of the same sex as the group, which they are supervising.
Maintaining standards and good youth work practice. In the relaxed atmosphere of a trip away from home normal boundaries and standards of behaviour can be crossed over. Experience indicates that many of the cases of alleged child abuse within the youth work setting occur during trips away.
All youth groups should have guidelines available for trips away from home (Appendix 14), including guidelines on residential trips and youth exchanges (Appendix 16). All staff / volunteer leaders should ensure that these guidelines are understood and adhered to.
Anti Bullying Policy
Carlow County Development Partnership will not tolerate any bullying behaviour by children / young people or adults. All complaints in relation to any incidents will be taken seriously and will be dealt with immediately in accordance with the CCDP anti-bullying policy when working with children and young people (Appendix 13). This information will form part of the induction training programme for all staff and volunteers.
Adult Leader to Young Person Ratio
The minimum adult leader to young person ratio in any group should ideally be one adult per group of eight plus one other adult and another leader for each additional 8 participants. Local circumstances, the age of the young people, disability considerations, safety and the nature of the activities being undertaken may require that these adult/young person ratios be even lower.
When dealing with a group of mixed gender, it is important that workers have sufficient leaders to properly manage all activities for both groups.
Permission must be sought prior to taking any image e.g. photographs, camera phones, videos of a CCDP programme or activity involving young people. This is clarified in Registration Forms with a check box declaration. Official photographs may only be taken in a planned manner in which the staff/volunteer team and the young people / parents have given their informed consent. Parents may choose if photos can be used for local media and/or social media.
Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse
Children First: National Guidelines for the protection and Welfare of children 2011
Types of child abuse
Child abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. A child may be subjected to one or more forms of abuse at any given time. More detail on each type of abuse is given in Appendix 1.
In the Children First: National Guidance, ‘a child’ means a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married.
Definition of ‘neglect’
Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, and/or medical care. Harm can be defined as the ill-treatment or the impairment of the health or development of a child. Whether it is significant is determined by the child’s health and development as compared to that which could reasonably be expected of a child of similar age.
Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point. For example, a child who suffers a series of minor injuries may not be having his or her needs met in terms of necessary supervision and safety. A child whose height or weight is significantly below average may be being deprived of adequate nutrition. A child who consistently misses school may be being deprived of intellectual stimulation.
The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her well-being and/or development are severely affected.
Definition of ‘emotional abuse’
Emotional abuse is normally to be found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s developmental need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical signs or symptoms. Examples may include:
(i) the imposition of negative attributes on a child, expressed by persistent criticism, sarcasm, hostility or blaming;
(ii) conditional parenting in which the level of care shown to a child is made contingent on his or her behaviours or actions;
(iii) emotional unavailability of the child’s parent/carer;
(iv) unresponsiveness of the parent/carer and/or inconsistent or inappropriate expectations of the child;
(v) premature imposition of responsibility on the child;
(vi) unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the child’s capacity to understand something or to behave and control himself or herself in a certain way;
(vii) under- or over-protection of the child;
(viii) failure to show interest in, or provide age-appropriate opportunities for, the child’s cognitive and emotional development;
(ix) use of unreasonable or over-harsh disciplinary measures;
(x) exposure to domestic violence;
(xi) exposure to inappropriate or abusive material through new technology.
Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning. Examples of these include insecure attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and developmental underachievement, and oppositional behaviour. The threshold of significant harm is reached when abusive interactions dominate and become typical of the relationship between the child and the parent/carer.
Definition of ‘physical abuse’
Physical abuse of a child is that which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction, or lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust. There may be single or repeated incidents.
Physical abuse can involve:
(i) severe physical punishment;
(ii) beating, slapping, hitting or kicking;
(iii) pushing, shaking or throwing;
(iv) pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling;
(v) terrorising with threats;
(vi) observing violence;
(vii) use of excessive force in handling;
(viii) deliberate poisoning;
(x) fabricated/induced illness (see Appendix 1 for details);
(xi) allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.
Definition of ‘sexual abuse’
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of child sexual abuse include:
(i) exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of the child;
(ii) intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification;
(iii) masturbation in the presence of the child or the involvement of the child in an act of masturbation;
(iv) sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal;
(v) sexual exploitation of a child, which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requiring or permitting a child to solicit for, or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts. Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modeling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act, including its recording (on film, video tape or other media) or the manipulation, for those purposes, of the image by computer or other means. It may also include showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse; Chapter 2: Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse
(vi) consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person. In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that, for the purposes of the criminal law, the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years for both boys and girls. An Garda Síochána will deal with the criminal aspects of the case under the relevant legislation.
It should be noted that the definition of child sexual abuse presented in this section is not a legal definition and is not intended to be a description of the criminal offence of sexual assault.
Recognising child neglect or abuse
Child neglect or abuse can often be difficult to identify and may present in many forms. A list of indicators of child abuse is contained in Appendix 1. No one indicator should be seen as conclusive in itself of abuse.
It may indicate conditions other than child abuse. All signs and symptoms must be examined in the context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.
Guidelines for recognition
The ability to recognise child abuse can depend as much on a person’s willingness to accept the possibility of its existence as it does on their knowledge and information. There are commonly three stages in the identification of child neglect or abuse:
(i) considering the possibility;
(ii) looking out for signs of neglect or abuse;
(iii) recording of information.
Stage 1: Considering the possibility
The possibility of child abuse should be considered if a child appears to have suffered a suspicious injury for which no reasonable explanation can be offered. It should also be considered if the child seems distressed without obvious reason or displays persistent or new behavioural problems. The possibility of child abuse should also be considered if the child displays unusual or fearful responses to parents/carers or older children. A pattern of ongoing neglect should also be considered even when there are short periods of improvement.
Stage 2: Looking out for signs of neglect or abuse
Signs of neglect or abuse can be physical, behavioural or developmental. They can exist in the relationships between children and parents/carers or between children and other family members/other persons. A cluster or pattern of signs is more likely to be indicative of neglect or abuse. Children who are being abused may hint that they are being harmed and sometimes make direct disclosures. Disclosures should always be taken very seriously and should be acted upon, for example, by informing the HSE
Children and Family Services: The child should not be interviewed in detail about the alleged abuse without first consulting with the HSE Children and Family Services. This may be more appropriately carried out by a social worker or An Garda Síochána. Less obvious signs could be gently explored with the child, without direct questioning. Play situations, such as drawing or story-telling, may reveal information.
Some signs are more indicative of abuse than others. These include:
(i) disclosure of abuse by a child or young person;
(ii) age-inappropriate or abnormal sexual play or knowledge;
(iii) specific injuries or patterns of injuries;
(iv) absconding from home or a care situation;
(v) attempted suicide;
(vi) underage pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease;
(vii) signs in one or more categories at the same time. For example, signs of developmental delay, physical injury and behavioural signs may together indicate a pattern of abuse.
Many signs of abuse are non-specific and must be considered in the child’s social and family context. It is important to be open to alternative explanations for physical or behavioural signs of abuse.
Stage 3: Recording of information
If neglect or abuse is suspected and acted upon, for example, by informing the HSE Children and Family Services, it is important to establish the grounds for concern by obtaining as much information as possible. Observations should be accurately recorded and should include dates, times, names, locations, context and any other information that may be relevant. Care should be taken as to how such information is stored and to whom it is made available.
Children with additional vulnerabilities
Certain children are more vulnerable to abuse than others. Such children include those with disabilities, children who are homeless and those who, for one reason or another, are separated from their parents or other family members and who depend on others for their care and protection. The same categories of abuse – neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse – are applicable, but may take a slightly different form. For example, abuse may take the form of deprivation of basic rights, harsh
disciplinary regimes or the inappropriate use of medications or physical restraints
ROLE OF THE CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER
In accordance with Section 3.3 of Children First: National Guidance (2011), every organisation, both public and private, that is providing services for children or that is in regular direct contact with children should identify a designated liaison person to act as a liaison with outside agencies and a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has child protection concerns.
The Child Protection Officer in Carlow County Development Partnership has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the child protection policy of the Carlow County Development Partnership is promoted and implemented. A Deputy Child Protection Officer in CCDP will take over the responsibilities of the Child Protection Officer if they are unavailable for a significant amount of time.
The role of the Child Protection Officer involves the following duties:
- To be familiar with “Children First”, National Guidance 2011 for the Protection and Welfare of Children and “Our Duty to Care”, the principles of good practice for the protection of children & young people and to have responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of the child protection and welfare policy of CCDP;
- To be knowledgeable about child protection and undertake any training considered necessary to keep themselves updated on new developments.
- To ensure full knowledge of CCDP’s organisation’s duties to the protection and welfare of children.
- To ensure full knowledge on CCDP’s child protection and welfare policies and procedures, and to know what they are and where to find the most up-to-date version.
- To receive reports of alleged/suspected or actual child abuse and act on these in accordance with the guidelines;
- To ensure that training is provided for all new and existing staff in Carlow County Development Partnership on the child protection policy;
- To build a working relationship with the Health Service Executive (HSE), An Garda Síochána and other agencies, as appropriate;
- To ensure that supports are put in place for the young person, employees or volunteers in cases of allegations being made;
- To review CCDP’s policy and procedures on child protection on an annual basis and amend as appropriate;
- To ensure that systems are in place for recording and retaining all relevant documentation in relation to child protection issues.
- When a concern has been raised to establish, in consultation with the individual who has raised the concern, if reasonable grounds for concern exist.
- To forwarded to the HSE Children and Family Services’ Duty Social Worker if reasonable grounds for concern exist, regardless of whether the source wishes to be identified or not. The source should be made aware that you will be reporting the information. (f you are unsure whether the concern constitutes reasonable grounds or concern, you may consult informally with the Duty Social Worker)
- Where a decision has been made not to pass on the information the Child Protection Officer you must inform the person of this and also tell them that they may report directly to Children and Family Services and that the provisions of the Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act would pertain.
Child Protection Officer for Carlow County Development Partnership
Social Inclusion Manager,
Carlow County Development Partnership
Phone: 086 0223229 / 059 9720733
Deputy Child Protection Officer for Carlow County Development Partnership
REPORTING PROCEDURE IN RESPECT OF CHILD PROTECTION AND WELFARE
Carlow County Development Partnership has put in place a standard reporting procedure for dealing with disclosures, concerns or allegations of child abuse.
Responsibility to Report Child Abuse
Everyone must be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be experiencing abuse or have been abused in the past. This is an important responsibility for staff and volunteers when working with children and young people.
3.7.3 of Children First: National Guidance (2011) states that ‘It is the responsibility of all agencies working with children and for the public to recognise child protection concerns and share those with the agencies responsible for assessing or investigating them, not to determine whether the child protection concerns are evidenced or not’.
The guiding principles in regard to reporting child abuse are summarised as follows:
The primary responsibility of the person who first suspects or is told of abuse is to report it and to ensure that their concern is taken seriously. The guiding principles in regard to reporting child abuse may be summarised as follows:
- The safety and well-being of the child or young person must take priority.
- Reports should be made without delay
- The principle of natural justice should apply, which means that a person is innocent until proven otherwise
- The principle of confidentiality should apply, whereby only those that need to know should be told of a suspicion/allegation/disclosure of abuse and the number that need to be kept informed should be kept to a minimum.
The reporting procedure for dealing with disclosures, concerns or allegations of child abuse is outlined in the following steps:
- The employee or volunteer who has received a disclosure of child abuse or who has concerns of abuse should bring it to the attention of their development worker who in turn informs the Child Protection Officer immediately.
- The Child Protection Officer will assess and review the information that has been provided. The CPO may contact the HSE for informal advice relating to an allegation, concern or disclosure.
- After consultation with the HSE officials, the Child Protection Officer will then take one of two options:
- Report the allegation, concern or disclosure to the HSE or
- Not make a formal report to HSE but keep a record of the concerns on file. The reasons for not reporting the allegation, concern or disclosure will be clearly recorded. The employee/volunteer who made the initial report will be informed if a formal report is not being made to the HSE and it is open to him/her to make a formal report themselves, directly to the relevant authority if they feel this is necessary.
- Where a formal report is made the HSE will then liaise with An Garda Síochána. It is likely that the HSE will want to speak to the person who first made the report to clarify facts and the circumstances of the report.
In an emergency a report should be made directly to An Garda Síochána by Child Protection Officer
In making a report on suspected or actual child abuse, the individual must ensure that the first priority is always for the safety and welfare of the young person and that no young person is ever left in an un-safe situation.
Parents/guardians of the child will be informed of the allegation, concern or disclosure unless doing so is likely to endanger the child.
Information required when making a report
The more information which is gathered and put together on the Standard Reporting Form (see Appendix 3) the easier it will be to assess an allegation, concern or disclosure of abuse. If the child protection Officer has questions, it may be useful to talk over the issue with the with a HSE worker before making an official report.
- In matters of child abuse, an employee/volunteer should never promise to keep secret, any information which is divulged. It should be explained to the young person that this information cannot be kept secret but will be shared only on “a need to know” basis in order to safe guard the child.
It is essential in reporting any case of alleged/suspected abuse that the principle of confidentiality applies. The information should only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis and the number of people that need to be informed should be kept to a minimum.
The Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998
The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse “reasonably and in good faith” to the HSE or An Garda Síochána. This means that even if a reported suspicion of child abuse proves unfounded a plaintiff who took an action would have to prove that the reporter had not acted reasonably and in good faith in making the report.
This protection applies to organisations and to individuals. It is considered therefore that organisations should assume full responsibility for reporting suspected child abuse to the appropriate authorities. Reports to the HSE and to the Gardaí should be made by the Child Protection Officer, as per the organisation’s policy and guidelines.
Section 3 (1) of the Act states:
“3. (I) A person who apart from this section, would be so liable shall not be liable in damages in respect of the communication, whether in writing or otherwise, by him or her to an appropriate person of his or her opinion that-
(a) a child has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused, or
(b) a child’s health development or welfare has been or is being avoidably impaired or neglected,
unless it is proven that he or she has not acted reasonably and in good faith in forming that opinion and communicating it to the appropriate person”.
PROCEDURES FOR ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AGAINST STAFF
When an allegation of abuse is made against an employee of Carlow County Development Partnership there are two procedures that CCDP will put in place:
- The reporting procedure in respect of the child / young person
- The procedure for dealing with the employee
- The reporting procedure in respect of the child / young person
In the case of the allegation being against the employee of CCDP, the same person will not deal with both the young person and the alleged abuser.
- The Child Protection Officer of CCDP will follow the normal reporting procedure in CCDP (as outlined in ‘Reporting procedure in respect of child abuse’).
- It will be the responsibility of the CEO of Carlow County Development Partnership to deal with a Staff member against whom an allegation has been made in accordance with the integrated Human Resources Policy
- The procedure for dealing with the employee
If an allegation is made against an employee of CCDP, the following steps will be taken:
The Line Manager of Carlow County Development Partnership will deal with all aspects of the case relating to the employees (Employee of CCDP can mean a person in paid employment, volunteers and students.
The allegation will be assessed with the CPO to establish if there are reasonable grounds for concern and whether a formal report will be made to the statutory authorities at this point. The CPO may wish to contact the HSE for advice on the issue.
The safety of the Child/Young person is the first priority of CCDP and all necessary measures will be taken to ensure the child is safe. The measures taken will be proportionate to the level of risk.
CCDP will ensure that no other children/young people are at risk during this period and will inform other agenciesParents/carers of other participants as appropriate.
The measures which can be taken to ensure the safety of children and young people can include the following:
- Suspension of duties of the person accused
- Re-assignment of duties where the accused will not have contact with children/young people
- Working under increased supervision during the period of investigation, probation or other measures deemed appropriate by the CEO of Carlow County Development Partnership.
If a formal report is being made, the CEO of Carlow County Development Partnership will notify the employee that an allegation has been made and what the nature of the allegation is. The employee has a right to respond to this and this response should be documented and retained.
CCDP will ensure the principle of “natural justice” will apply whereby a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.
CCDP will work in co-operation with the HSE and An Garda Siochana and any decisions or actions to be taken in regard to the employee will be taken in consultation with these agencies.
The person against whom the allegation is made will need support during this period and the CEO of CCDP will provide advice on how to access the relevant support services.
In relation to informing parents/guardians/carers the CPO or the most appropriate staff member of CCDP will firstly inform parents/guardians/carers in the event of a child disclosing an incident of abuse against a staff member, unless this could put the child in danger.
COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE IN RELATION TO WORKING WITH CHILDREN/YOUNG PEOPLE
Carlow County Development Partnership is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all children/young people with whom we work.
This complaints procedure aims to cover any situation which may arise, when children/young people or their parents/guardians are not happy with the way the children/young people were treated while they engage with CCDP.
Who can make a complaint?
Complaints can be made by:
- Children/young people involved with CCDP;
- Their parents/guardians;
- CCDP employees
- Other advocates on behalf of children/young people.
How to make a complaint.
If the complaint is in relation to the safety and welfare of children/young people the complaint should be made to the Child Protection Officer, in CCDP or the development worker. (See complaints form Appendix 11)
Our standards for dealing with complaints.
- If the complaint relates to the safety and welfare of a child/young person, it will be examined in accordance with child protection and welfare of children/young people;
- We will treat your complaint properly, fairly and impartially and in the best interests of the child/young person;
- All records of complaint will be passed on to the Manager of CCDP.
- We will examine and review your complaint and send a reply to you within 20 working days of the receipt of your complaint. Where it is not possible to meet this target, we will inform you and continue to do so until the matter is resolved;
Can you appeal?
If you are unhappy about the outcome of the review you can appeal the matter to CEO of CCDP., within a month of the review.
The Child Protection Officer is responsible for keeping the following records related to Child Protection in a secure manner.
will keep Personal Disclosure forms, Confidentiality Agreements and Child Protection Policy Acceptance forms.
- Any complaints about the safety and welfare of children/young people while under the supervision of CCDP
- Any disclosures, concerns or allegations of child abuse;
- These records may include: follow up to any complaints, disclosure, concerns, allegations, reports to the HSE, including informal advice from the HSE, and information given to parents/guardians;
- Any bullying complaints related to CCDP work with children/young people and the follow up action;
The Garda vetting forms will be securely stored by the Garda Vetting Officer.