Parents and Guardians
Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for the care and protection of their children. However, at times they may need support and assistance from the State in carrying out their responsibilities as a parent. In some cases, for a range of reasons, parents are not able to provide proper care and protection for their children, and more intensive assistance is needed to keep the children safe from harm. Interventions by the State aim to build on the existing strengths of the family. Support is offered to help the family to overcome any difficulties and to ensure that the child is safe. With assistance, most families can make the necessary changes to keep their child safe.
While the role of parents is to protect their children, society also has a duty to promote the welfare and safety of children. Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children states that it is everyone’s business to protect children and young people and that we all need to do our best to keep them safe. It is important that families, communities and professionals can recognise when a child or young person is being harmed and that they know what action to take in response.
It is accepted that in general a child fares best within his or her own family.
If at all possible support will be offered to the child and family to overcome any difficulties and to ensure that the child is safe. A child may only be removed from his or her family as a last resort and only if it is not possible to keep the child safe within the family setting.
With the assistance of community or family support services, most families can make the necessary changes to protect their child and will not need social work intervention.
If, as a parent/guardian, you have concerns that a child is being harmed then you need to know how to recognise abuse and how to report a concern.
If you are a foster carer there is additional information that you will need to know - further details available here.
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As parents, we cannot be with our children all of the time. Children First places an obligation on the other people in your child’s life to put in place procedures to safeguard children. All organisations that provide services to children should develop specific policies and procedures on how to keep your child safe.
The Children First Act 2015 places obligations on organisations that are called ‘relevant services’ to have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place. Relevant services include early years services, schools, hospitals and health centres, sports clubs, etc. As a parent, you have a right to see this statement and the policies and procedures that the organisation have in place.
The services/ activities that parents avail of need to have reporting procedures in place should they have concerns that a child is being harmed in the home or elsewhere.
There are some services that are not legally required to have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place. These may include, for example, individuals who provide grinds, music lessons and childminders. However, they are still obliged to have policies and procedures in place to keep children safe.