From : Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Dear Children First Inter-Departmental Implementation Group Member
As you may be aware since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the DCEDIY, along with a number of other Departments and Agencies, is working as part of the whole-of-Government response to meet the immediate accommodation needs of those fleeing the conflict.
Could we take this opportunity to remind you of the responsibility on all Government Departments to ensure that children and young people are kept safe while accessing services provided or funded by each department. This includes any new services developed as part of the response to the Ukraine crisis. It is also the responsibility of departments to ensure that all staff in the department itself, the sectors and agencies under the remit of the department and the services funded by the department are aware of and comply with the obligations contained in the Children First Act 2015 and the Children First National Guidance. The website that was developed late last year as part of Children First Awareness Week contains useful basic information about Children First, including links to the Act and National Guidance gov.ie/childrenfirst
Tusla has developed helpful resources on statutory obligations as well as safeguarding best practice for organisations working with children and young people. These are available on their website https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/. Resources include Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement and Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/what-is-a-child-safeguarding-statement/how-do-i-develop-a-child-safeguarding-statement/
You might also consider if there would be merit in encouraging your own departmental and agency staff to complete the Children First eLearning Programme, particularly where they will be in direct contact with families and children from Ukraine. The programme is at an introductory level and covers topics including recognising and reporting child abuse, the role of mandated persons and the responsibilities of organisations working with children and young people. The online training programme is available on the Tusla website at https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme/.
Anyone with a child protection concern should contact their local duty social work office, details are available on the Tusla website at https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/contact-a-social-worker3/ or through the Tusla online portal at https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/web-portal/. In cases of emergency, where a child or young person appears to be at immediate and serious risk, An Garda Síochána (AGS) should be contacted.
Human trafficking involves the use of deception, threats or physical force to move a victim from one place to another in order to exploit them. In the case of children, no force is required – the very act of transporting a child into exploitative conditions constitutes trafficking. You can read more about the different types of human trafficking, including warning signs that can help you to identify victims, on the Government’s anti-human trafficking website, blueblindfold.gov.ie. If you are concerned that a child or young person may have been trafficked, you should report your concerns to AGS without delay at 1800 666 111 or 999/112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CFIDIG members are requested to bring this information to the attention of your departmental and agency colleagues and sectors/services under the remit of your department who are involved in the Ukraine response.
Lara Hynes, CFIDIG Chairperson
Acting Assistant Secretary, Child Policy & Tusla Governance Division
An Roinn Leanaí, Comhionannais, Míchumais, Lánpháirtíochta agus Óige
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth