Mandatory Reporting and Child Safeguarding Statements will become law in just over 2 months.
The remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015 will come into effect on the 11th of December next.
10 KEY POINTS TO NOTE:
Mandatory reporting obligations will be imposed on certain key professionals to report concerns of harm to Tusla. These professionals, defined as "mandated persons" and the definition includes social workers, doctors, teachers , child safeguarding officers who are employed for that purpose, members of An Garda Sίochána, youth workers and those carrying gout a preschool service, to name but a few. The mandated person is required to report concerns of harm and section 2 of the Act defines harm as follows: Assault, ill-treatment or neglect of the child in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child's health, development or welfare, or Sexual abuse of the child, whether caused by a single act, omission or circumstance or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances or otherwise." A mandated person must also assist Tusla in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report, if they are requested to do so, irrespective of who made the report. Information may be shared with the mandatory reporter by Tusla in order to enable their assistance. This information cannot then be shared by the mandatory reporter with any third parties, and such disclosure is subject to criminal sanction. This is the only criminal sanction in the Act. It can cause concern for those whose terms of employment might be at odds with this provision. Section 15(3) of the Act provides protection from civil liability when assisting Tusla in the assessment of risk to a child. It is not sufficient for a mandated person to report the concern to their DLP. The report must be made to Tusla. Mandated persons cannot report a concern anonymously and if they do so they are not in compliance with obligations under the Act. How and what to report are set out in the new Children First Guidance 2017 at Chapter 3. There is no criminal sanction under the Act for failing to adhere to these requirements. However the Act does hint at professional sanctions: for example, the Child and Family Agency is a specified body for purposes of National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable persons) Acts 2012-2016 and a failure to report could be regarded as specified information which, pursuant to...