Child Welfare and Protection Policies
Section 1: Laws and Governance
Our child welfare and protection policy is based on a legal framework provided primarily by the Child Care Act 1991 and the Children First Act 2015. The policy and practice that applies in this area is outlined in this Guidance. There are a number of key principles of child protection and welfare that inform both Government policy and best practice for those dealing with children.
- The safety and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility
- The best interests of the child should be paramount
- The overall aim in all dealings with children and their families is to intervene proportionately to support families to keep children safe from harm
- Interventions by the State should build on existing strengths and protective factors in the family
- Early intervention is key to getting better outcomes. Where it is necessary for the State to intervene to keep children safe, the minimum intervention necessary should be used Children should only be separated from parents/guardians when alternative means of protecting them have been exhausted
- Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously. Taking account of their age and understanding, they should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives
- Parents/guardians have a right to respect, and should be consulted and involved in matters that concern their family
- A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights and needs of parents/guardians and families.
- Where there is conflict, the child’s welfare must come first
- Child protection is a multiagency, multidisciplinary activity. Agencies and professionals must work together in the interests of children
Section 2: Ennis Gymnastics Statement and Goal
Ennis Gymnastics Club is committed to teaching gymnastics to all levels and abilities in a safe and fun environment. We want all our gymnasts to leave their classes with a big smile on their face and a sense of achievement.
Section 3: Who to Contact
The Role of Children’s Officers: The appointment of Children’s Officers in sports clubs/organisations is an essential element in the creation of a quality atmosphere. They act as a resource with regard to children’s issues.
- Children’s Officers should review current policies in relation to young people, check that all activities are safe and fun, and inform adults of how to deal with any concerns that may arise in relation to the protection of young people.
- Club Children’s Officers should be child centred in focus and have as the primary aim the establishment of a child centred ethos within the club. S/he is the link between the children and the adults in the club.
- S/he also takes responsibility for monitoring and reporting to the Club Management Committee on how club policy impacts on young people and Sports Leaders.
- The Children’s Officer should be a member of or have access to, the Club Management Committee and should be introduced to the young people in an appropriate forum. The Children’s Officer should have the following role:
- To promote awareness of the code within the club, among young members and their parents/guardians. This could be achieved by:- the production / distribution of information leaflets, the establishment of children’s/age-group specific notice boards, regular information meetings for the young people and their parents/guardians
- To influence policy and practice within the club in order to prioritise children’s needs
- Establish contact with local Children’s Officers.
- To ensure that children know how to make concerns known to appropriate adults or agencies.
- To encourage the appropriate involvement of parents/guardians in the club activities
- To act as an advisory resource to Sports Leaders on best practice in children’s sport
- To report regularly to the Club Management Committee
- To monitor changes in membership and follow up any unusual dropout, absenteeism or club transfers by children or Sports Leaders
- To ensure that the children have a voice in the running of their club and ensure that there are steps young people can take to express concerns about their sports activities / experiences.
- Establish communication with other branches of the club, e.g. facilitate parent’s information sessions at the start of the season
- Keep records on each member on file, including junior members, their contact numbers and any special needs of the child that should be known to leaders
- Ensure each member signs an annual membership form that includes signing up to the code of conduct
- Ensure that the club rules and regulations include:
- complaints, disciplinary and appeals procedures
- an anti-bullying policy
- safety statement
- rules in relation to traveling with children
- supervision and recruitment of leaders
The Company requires all coaches employed to be Garda Vetted through the National Vetting Bureau.
The Company’s policy on vetting requires re-vetting at least every 2-4 years and will be organised by the Operations Manager.
Section 5: Awareness
The prevention and detection of child abuse depends on the collaborative effort of everyone concerned.
The following factors are central to effective child protection in sport:
- Awareness of the behavioural and physical indicators of various forms of abuse
- Knowledge of the appropriate response and action to be taken where abuse is revealed or suspected
- Vigilance, and avoidance of all situations conducive to risk
- Open, trusting and co-operative relationships within the club/organisation, and with parents/guardians and others concerned with children’s progress or welfare
- Willingness to co-operate with the Statutory Authorities
You should always inform the Designated Liaison Person of the Club or Tusla when you have reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been, is being, or is at risk of being abused or neglected. If you ignore what may be symptoms of abuse, it could result in ongoing harm to the child. It is not necessary for you to prove that abuse has occurred to report a concern to the Designated Liaison Person of the Club or Tusla. All that is required is that you have reasonable grounds for concern. It is the role of the Designated Liaison Person of the Club or Tusla’s role to assess concerns that are reported to it. If you report a concern, you can be assured that your information will be carefully considered with any other information available and a child protection assessment will be carried out where sufficient risk is identified.
Reasonable grounds for a child protection or welfare concern include:
- Evidence, for example an injury or behaviour, that is consistent with abuse and is unlikely to have been caused in any other way
- Any concern about possible sexual abuse
- Consistent signs that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect
- A child saying or indicating by other means that he or she has been abused
- Admission or indication by an adult or a child of an alleged abuse they committed
- An account from a person who saw the child being abused
- The guiding principles on reporting child abuse or neglect may be summarised as follows:
- The safety and well-being of the child must take priority over concerns about adults against whom an allegation may be made
- Reports of concerns should be made without delay to the Designated Liaison Person of the Club or Tusla
Purpose of this Complaints Procedure
- To provide a fair, consistent and equitable mechanism for processing complaints against coaches.
- To do so in a manner that affords all concerned full rights in accordance with natural justice.
- To outline the procedures, which should be followed by all – Managing Director, Operations Manager, Site Manager, coaches, parents and students and/or their representatives – in the event of complaints being made against coaches
Sports organisations like ours, our coaches and others involved in providing activities for children and young people are increasingly using the internet and social media to promote sport and communicate with them.
These forms of digital media and communication can provide great benefits. However, they can also pose potential safeguarding risks to children and young people. Communicating with children and young people online can have great benefits for an organisation, from encouraging a team ethos, to gaining new club members.
Unfortunately, having negative experiences online can affect a young person’s enjoyment of sport as well as their performance. It’s important that organisations like ours has appropriate safeguards in place to protect children from potential risks whilst in our care or communicating with them online.
8.1.2 Potential risks to young people
Due to social media’s 24 hour nature, it’s much easier for young people to be subjected to or become involved in negative behaviour and it may be more difficult to get away from.
Additional risks include:
- cyberbullying or berating by peers and people they consider ‘friends’ – in sport this can include negative comments or reactions to their performance or achievement
- being encouraged to create or share inappropriate or harmful material of themselves or others, including sexting (sexual images or video)
- making themselves identifiable by posting personal details on social media such as where they attend school or their home address
- encouragement to take part in violent behaviour or harmful trends
- communicating with people they don’t know, including potentially dangerous individuals
- communicating directly with staff or other adults in an inappropriate way
- risks of online grooming
8.1.3 How to minimise the risks
Organisations should put practices in place to ensure young people are kept safe online. As an organisation we aim to:
- be open and transparent in all communications, whether online or by traditional means
- make sure our use of social media as an organisation is in line with our aims and values
- ensure staff and volunteers who manage the organisation’s online presence have appropriate training on the types of technology, sites and applications young people use
- address the safeguards that affect young people with clear guidelines for them to follow, as well as informing them of who they can contactand including online behaviour into our codes of conduct
- equip young people with knowledge about the risks to them and how to deal with and report any concerns
- develop guidance and advice for staff and volunteers that include guidance on how to behave online when representing the organisation and how to respond to inappropriate behaviour
- think about how social media is used in our organisation both during activities or events and outside of normal ‘office hours’ and make sure that’s reflected in our policy and procedures
- reference our online safety policy in your safeguarding policy and make sure staff are aware of the reporting procedures for online abuse
Section 9: Mandated Persons
9.1.1 About this section
The Children First Act 2015 places a legal obligation on certain people, many of whom are professionals, to report child protection concerns at or above a defined threshold to Tusla – Child and Family Agency. These mandated persons must also assist Tusla, on request, in its assessment of child protection concerns about children who have been the subject of a mandated report.
9.1.2 Who are Mandated Persons
Mandated persons are people who have contact with children and/or families and who, because of their qualifications, training and/or employment role, are in a key position to help protect children from harm.
9.1.3 Legal Obligations of Mandated Persons
Mandated persons have two main legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015. These are:
- To report the harm of children above a defined threshold to Tusla;
- To assist Tusla, if requested, in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report.