CSSCU Frequently Asked Questions
A written statement that specifies the service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed to ensure, as far as practicable, that a child availing of the service is safe from ‘harm’.2 It also includes an assessment of risk of ‘harm’ to a child while availing of your service and specifies the procedures in place to manage any identified risks. Your service should ensure that your Child Safeguarding Statement has due regard to the Children First: National Guidance and any other child protection guidelines issued by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, or any guidelines issued by Tusla concerning Child Safeguarding Statements under section 11(4) of the Children First Act 2015.
Organisations classed as providers of relevant services under the Children First Act 2015 are required to have Child Safeguarding Statements. This means you must have a Child Safeguarding Statement if:
➪ Your organisation is within the categories of organisations classified as relevant services under the Act. (To establish if your organisation is a relevant service, see Schedule 1, Children First Act 2015).
➪ You are deemed to be a provider of a relevant service. To qualify as a provider of a relevant service under the Act, the service provider must employ at least one other person, whether through contract, voluntary arrangement or agreement, to undertake any work or activity on their behalf to provide that service.
In effect, certain types of activities and services provided by persons who work alone and do not employ another person (e.g. tutors who provide one-to-one tuition or childminders) are exempt from the part of the Act relating to the development of a Child Safeguarding Statement. This is because they do not fall under the definition of providers of relevant services. They can still develop a child Safeguarding Statement as part of their best practice, but it is not formally required under the Act.
A Provider as defined in the Children First Act 2015, means ‘a person— (a) who provides a relevant service, and
(b) who, in respect of the provision of such relevant service—
(i) employs (whether under contract of employment or otherwise) one or more than one other person to undertake any work or activity that constitutes a relevant service,
(ii) enters into a contract for services with one or more than one other person for the provision by the person of a relevant service, or
(iii) permits one or more than one other person (whether or not for commercial or other consideration and whether or not as part of a course of education or training, including an internship scheme) to undertake any work or activity, on behalf of the person, that constitutes a relevant service’.
You should compare your current role and situation with the Provider detail from the Act above, to identify if you are a Provider.
Any service which is listed under Schedule 1 of the Act is considered to be a relevant service. You must consult the full list of organisations which are classified as relevant services under the Act to establish if your organisation is a relevant service. This is listed in the Act and on the Tusla website.
Question: What exactly is listed under Schedule 1 of the Children First Act 2015 (what is on the list of relevant services)?
Schedule 1 of the Children First Act 2015 defines Relevant Services as follows:
1. Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children in—
(a) an establishment which provides early years services within the meaning of Part VIIA of the Child Care Act 1991,
(b) a school or centre of education, both within the meaning of the Education Act 1998,
(c) any hospital, hospice, health care centre or other centre which receives, treats or otherwise provides physical or mental health services to children,
(d) a designated centre within the meaning of section 2 of the Health Act 2007, in so far as it relates to an institution at which residential services are provided in accordance with the Child Care Act 1991 or to children with disabilities in relation to their disabilities,
(e) a special care unit provided and maintained in accordance with section 23K of the Child Care Act 1991,
(f) a children detention school within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 2001,
(g) a reception or accommodation centre which provides residential accommodation services to applicants for asylum under contract to the Department of Justice and Equality where children may be accommodated, or
(h) a centre which provides residential accommodation services to victims of domestic violence where children may be accommodated.
2. Any work or activity which consists of the inspection of a service provided to a child under the Child Care Act 1991, the Education Act 1998, the Children Act 2001 or the Health Act 2007.
3. Any work or activity which consists of the inspection, examination or investigation by
the Office of the Ombudsman for Children under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002.
4. Any work or activity which consists of treatment (including assessment which may lead to treatment), therapy or counselling provided to a child.
5. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of—
(a) educational, research, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children,
(b) care or supervision of children, or
(c) formal consultation with, or formal participation by, a child in respect of matters that affect his or her life, whether or not for commercial or any other consideration.
6. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of advice or guidance services (including by means of electronic interactive communications), a necessary and regular part of which consists, mainly, of the person having access to, or contact with, children.
7. Any work or activity as a minister or priest or any other person engaged in the advancement of any religious beliefs which would or could bring that minister, priest or other person, as the case may be, into contact with a child.
8. Any work or activity as a driver of, or as an assistant to the driver, or as a conductor, or as a supervisor of children using a vehicle which is being hired or used only for the purpose of conveying children who are unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
9. Any work or activity which is carried out by a member of An Garda Síochána, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children.
A Relevant person is defined in the Children First Act 2015 as a person who is appointed by a provider of a relevant service to be the first point of contact in respect of the provider’s Child Safeguarding Statement.
Provider’s should refer to the Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement which describes the steps to take to develop a Child Safeguarding Statement; and Tusla's Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice. The Guidance document will help you to think about what your organisation currently has in place in relation to safeguarding children and what you need to do to complete your Child Safeguarding Statement. It will also help inform and guide your risk assessment.
It is important to set aside enough time for writing your Child Safeguarding Statement. You will need to have the right person or team available to develop the Statement. You will also have to allocate time for the development or review of policies and procedures that you reference in your Child Safeguarding Statement.
The Children First Act 2015 says your Child Safeguarding Statement must include certain information including, but not limited to:
- Name of your service
- Activities that you provide - outlining the various activities and services you provide to children and young people.
- A written assessment of risk of ‘harm’ to a child while availing of your service.
- The principles and the procedures you will observe to keep children safe. This includes: Details of how you manage any risks to children availing of the services in your organisation (in the context of safeguarding). This must be suitable to the purpose, function and size of the organisation you provide. This should include details of the policies and procedures you have in place, and these must be in line with the required list form the Act.
Question: What procedures must I list in the Statement at minimum, that is, what is required in the Act?
The Act lists a number of procedures which must be specified in your Child Safeguarding Statement. You must specify the procedures that are in place:
(a) To manage any risk identified.
(b) In respect of any member of staff who is the subject of any investigation (howsoever described) in respect of any act, omission or circumstance in respect of a child availing of the relevant service.
(c) For the selection or recruitment of any person as a member of staff of the provider with regard to that person’s suitability to work with children.
(d) For the provision of information and, where necessary, instruction and training, to members of staff of the provider in relation to the identification of the occurrence of harm.
(e) For reporting to the Agency by the provider or a member of staff of the provider (whether a mandated person or otherwise) in accordance with the Children First Act 2015 or the guidelines issued by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under section 6.
(f) For maintaining a list of the persons (if any) in the relevant service who are mandated persons. (See Appendix 3 for a list of the categories of person mandated under the Children First Act 2015.)
(g) For appointing a relevant person.
Question: My organisation is large and varied – do I need a Child Safeguarding Statement for each service within the organisation?
Large or complex organisations will need to consider whether one Child Safeguarding Statement can capture the range of activities provided. Having individual units of service complete separate Child Safeguarding Statements may provide a more manageable approach for some organisations; it is up to each organisation to decide what will work best for it. If you decide to have individual units of service complete separate Child Safeguarding Statements, there may still be corporate policy areas that should be included by each service unit. Examples of this might include recruitment and selection procedures, staff codes of conduct or issues specific to a group of professionals who operate in different service locations.
There is a provision in the Children First Act 2015 for Tusla to establish and maintain a register of non-compliance for service providers who fail to provide a copy of the Child Safeguarding Statement to Tusla when requested to do so. Any provider or member of the public can report information (unsolicited information or concerns about a service) to Tusla’s CSSCU, regarding a relevant service which does not have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place or has a Child Safeguarding Statement which is not in line with the requirements of the Act. Tusla’s CSSSCU may contact any service which is has information about and may request a copy of the Child Safeguarding Statement at any time. If you fail to provide a copy of the Child Safeguarding Statement to Tusla when requested to do so, steps will be taken in lien with the Children First Act, which may result in your service being added to a Register of Non-Compliance which is a publicly held register.
A risk assessment is an exercise where the organisation examines all aspects of its service from a safeguarding perspective, to establish whether there are any practices or features of the service that have the potential to put children at risk. Under the Children First Act 2015, organisations providing a relevant service must undertake a risk assessment.
The risk assessment considers the potential for harm to come to children while they are in the organisation’s care (It should be noted that risk in this context is the risk of abuse and not general health and safety).
After the risk assessment has been completed, organisations are required to develop a Child Safeguarding Statement that outlines the policies and procedures which are in place to manage the risks that have been identified.
The risk assessment process is intended to enable the organisation to:
- Identify potential risks
- Develop policies and procedures to minimise risk by responding in a timely manner to potential risks
- Review whether adequate precautions have been taken to eliminate or reduce these risks.
There are a number of methods that can be used to complete a risk assessment; the Act does not require you to use any particular model. The Children First: National Guidance provides further information on completing the risk assessment part of your Child Safeguarding Statement.
Upon completion, the Child Safeguarding Statement must be circulated to all staff members. It must be displayed publicly and made available to parents and guardians, Tusla and members of the public upon request.
The provider of ‘relevant services’ must complete the requirements regarding the risk assessment and writing of their Child Safeguarding Statement within three months of the Children First Act 2015 coming into force
Yes, a sample is available in the Appendix 1 of the Guidance on Developing A Child Safeguarding Statement.
The Child Safeguarding Statement must be reviewed every two years, or sooner if there has been a material change in any of the issues to which it refers.
Question: What information or guidance should I be referring to, to assist me to develop a Child Safeguarding Statement?
Providers should be aware of the Act which describes all requirements relating to Child Safeguarding Statements:
- Reference: The Children First Act 2015 (Number 36 of 2015). A 26-page legislative document which describes the legislation relating to Children First.
Providers should be aware of the information booklets developed by Tusla to help organisations develop their Child Safeguarding Statement, including:
- Reference: Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement (Specific to the Child Safeguarding Statement). This 17-page Tusla Guidance document contains information for organisations required to develop a Child Safeguarding Statement, including an example template Child Safeguarding Statement. Please note that it is only a sample template and is not a standardised format for a Child Safeguarding Statement. www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/what-is-a-child-safeguarding-statement/how-do-i-develop-a-child-safeguarding-statement
- Reference : Tusla Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice (Not Specific to Child Safeguarding Statement; Refers to Child Safeguarding Statement throughout chapters) This is a best practice guide designed to help all providers of services to children and families to develop guiding principles and safeguarding procedures to keep children and young people using their services safe from harm. www.tusla.ie/children-first/organisations/what-is-a-child-safeguarding-statement/how-do-i-develop-a-child-safeguarding-statement)
- Reference: Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017; Department of Children and Youth Affairs). (Not Specific to Child Safeguarding Statement; Chapter 4 is specific to Child Safeguarding Statement). This National Guidance Document includes information on the statutory obligations for those individuals and organisations under the Act. It sets out all best practice procedures that should be in place for all organisations providing services to children. https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Children_First_National_Guidance_2017.pdf
Providers who are funded by state agencies should refer back to their funding body for support with development and implementation. Other non -funded organisations should refer to their governing body or sponsoring agency for support and guidance in the first instance. Individuals without affiliation should refer to the Tusla website or contact the Tusla Child SafeGuarding Statement Compliance Unit for assistance.
Tusla’s CSSCU will receive and review relevant concerns in respect of Child Safeguarding Statement issues, please see Tusla website for further details.