Child Welfare and Protection Policy

It is the function of Turas Le Cheile to promote the welfare of children in its care who are not receiving adequate care and protection (Section 3(1) Child Care Act 1991). There is a Designated Child Welfare and Protection Officer.

It is the policy of Turas Le Cheile that any support worker who is of the opinion that, (a) a child has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused, or (b) a child’s health, development of welfare has been or is being avoidably impaired or neglected, (Section 18 (1) (a) and (b) Child Care Act 1991) must completes the standard reporting form entitled “HSE   Initial Referral of Welfare Concern or Suspected Child Abuse” and forward it to the Principal Social Worker within 24 hours, in consultation with the Chairperson of Turas Le Cheile:  in the event of an out-of-hours emergency An Garda Síochána should be contacted, the Referral form to follow.

Additionally, in accordance with the requirements of the Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 the committee has designated officers  of Turas Le Cheile as  “Designated Officers” to receive reports of child abuse from any person who is of the 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 (Section 18(1) (a) and (b) Child Care Act 1991).

Any officer who receives such reports must complete the standard reporting form entitled “Initial Referral of Welfare Concern of Suspected Child Abuse” and forward to the Principal Social Worker within 24 hours, in consultation with the Chairperson.

All Support workers should make reference to:

Turas Le Cheile Principles for Best Practice in Child Protection

These principles include the following:

  1. The welfare of the child is of paramount importance.
  2. That a proper balance is created between protecting the child and respecting the rights of parents, however where there is conflict the rights of the child must come first.
  3. At Turas Le Cheile, children have the right to be heard and taken seriously; taking account of their age and capacity of understanding they will be consulted to matters and decisions that affect their lives.
  4. We fully understand the rights of parents; they have a right to respect and will be consulted in matters of concern.
  5. Turas Le Cheile fully understands effective child protection requires compulsory training and clarity of responsibility for support workers working with children.
  6. Turas Le Cheile’s objective is to provide support, to promote the welfare of children and their families.

Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse
Child abuse can be categorized into four different types:

  1. Neglect.
  2. Emotional abuse.
  3. Physical abuse.
  4. Sexual abuse.

This is when a child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, medical care and affection from parents/Guardians. Neglect generally becomes apparent over a period of time rather than at one specific point.

Emotional Abuse
This is normally found in the relationship between a caregiver and a child.  It occurs when a child’s need for affection and security are not met.  Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning such a failure to thrive, unhappiness, and low self esteem.

Physical abuse
This is any form of non-accidental injury, which results from wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child.

Examples include:

  1. Shaking.
  2. Use of excessive force in handling.
  3. Creating a substantial risk of significant harm to the child.

Sexual abuse
This occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others.

Examples include:

  1. Exposure of sexual organs or sexual acts intentionally performed in the presence of the child.
  2. Intentional touching of the body of a child by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal
  3. Masturbation in the presence of a child or the involvement of the child in the act.
  4. Sexual intercourse with a child whether oral, vaginal or anal.
  5. Sexual exploitation of a child includes inciting, propositioning, permitting a child solicit for or engage in sexual acts.  It is also in the exhibition, modelling, or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal images recorded on film or computer.

The Age of Legal Consensual Sexual Activity is 17 years of age.

Turas Le Cheile Child Protection Standard Reporting Procedure
In the event where the well being of a child must take priority report will be made without delay to the health board.  A support worker who has reasonable suspicion will initially address their concerns with the designated officer and together will establish the basis for their concerns.

The following steps will be taken if the child abuse is suspected or alleged during the course of the child attending the organisation.

  1. A report will be made to the duty social worker within the health board initially by phone and then in writing.
  2. In the event of an emergency the report will be made to An Garda Síochána.
  3. It is the policy of Turas Le Cheile to record information, observations will be accurately recorded such as dates, times, context and information which may be relevant and required if report is forwarded.

There will be a standard form for reporting child protection on welfare concerns to the health board available.

It is also the policy of Turas Le Cheile that should any concerns in relation to the welfare of the child need be reported, the parents/Guardians will be informed of the submission unless doing so is likely to endanger the child.

Turas Le Cheile acknowledges that all actions in response to concerns about child abuse should be taken in a manner, which support, the possibility of families proving safe and nurturing care for their children now and in the future.

Policies concerning disclosures that are not abusive in nature

Turas Le Cheile wishes to acknowledge the importance of a trusting relationship between support worker and client.  This is equally recognised when working with the younger age group that are under 17 years.  The welfare of the young person will always take priority and where concerns of abuse arise the necessary procedures are established.  However during the course of therapy disclosures which aren’t abusive may arise.

It is the policy of Turas Le Cheile to provide support safety and guidance where conflict arises with the hope that it will enable the young person to become confident to appropriately address the disclosure.  Where the interests of the parent and child appear to conflict, the child’s interests will be paramount. Liaising with parents establishing a supportive network is fundamental for a positive healing process for the child or young adult.

Chapter 3 and Appendix 1 of Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (DOH&C 1999) with regard to definitions of and signs and symptoms of child abuse; and Chapter 4 which outlines the basis for report and the standard report procedure.

Protection for Persons Report Child Abuse Act 1998

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