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Written Answers - Children First Guidelines

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 535.  Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the work which had been done to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory footing in advance of her taking office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16536/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Implementation Plan of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse 2009 (Ryan Report Implementation Plan) recommended the following action:

Legislation will be drafted (by December 2010) to provide that all staff employed by the State and staff employed in agencies in receipt of funding from the Exchequer will have:

a duty to comply with the Children First national guidelines;

a duty to share relevant information in the best interests of the child (as per Recommendation 14, Action 57); a duty to cooperate with other relevant services in the best interests of the child.

This deadline was not met.

The work which had been done to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory footing in advance of my taking office was limited to the early stages of scoping of the legislation, by way of discussions with other Government departments. There had been no detailed policy framework prepared, nor had any work commenced on the preparation of heads of the Bill.

Since taking office I have overseen both the preparation of a detailed policy framework and the heads of the Bill which are currently being finalised by my Department in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. It is my intention to refer the heads of the Bill to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children very shortly.

[929]With respect to the guidelines themselves, prior to my taking Office, the then Department of Health and Children had been working intensively on drafting revised Children First Guidelines and had engaged with other Government Departments on the development of an implementation framework. The Department, in conjunction with the HSE had set about the recruitment and appointment of a National Director (Mr. Gordon Jeyes) to lead on the uniform and consistent implementation of Children First, and services for children in care, across all areas. The Department had also directed the HIQA to prioritise the inspection of child protection services by the development of Standards for Child Welfare and Protection, the recruitment of additional inspection staff and the preparation of inspection methodology.


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