Friday, July 06, 2012

Committee on Health and Children presents report on Children First Bill to Minister

The Committee on Health and Children today presented its report on a key piece of legislation on Children’s Rights to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD. 

Earlier in the year, the Minister sent the Heads of the Bill, which aims to put Children First: National
Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children
 on a statutory basis, to the Oireachtas Committee
on Health and Children for consultation before the Bill is finalised.

“Over the past two months the Committee undertook an extensive consultation process by engaging
 with key stakeholders through receiving submissions and holding public hearings. 

“It is in the interest of all in society, all children and parents that the Children First legislation is practical and effective. It must deliver a reformed child protection regime. We protect children by making sure that concerns are acted on, not ignored. The observations and recommendations in this report are intended to inform and guide the drawing up of the Children First legislation.”

The report recommends that the Bill:
· reflects the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and be consistent throughout in using the "best interests of the child" criterion for actions taken to protect children.
· be implemented on a phased basis so that services and organisations are not overwhelmed, and to allow initial difficulties to be identified and resolved.
· be drafted so that its provisions, terminology, definitions and offences mesh seamlessly proposed and existing legislation related to reporting and prosecuting abuse. 
· gives equal recognition to the need to report emotional abuse as well as other types of abuse. 
· Defines and clarifies the term "sexual abuse" in and provisions requiring reporting be clarified. 
· the organisations that are covered by the Bill should be carefully reviewed. 
· includes a specific provision for Designated Officers to be vetted 
· should ensure that reporting criteria and thresholds are set at appropriate levels so that trivial matters do not add unnecessary work or cause unwarranted stress and anxiety. 

The report also recommends that the State invests substantially in resources, including personnel, training, support and feedback to support the implementation of the Bill, particularly in the early stages.

Access short video clip of Chairman of the Committee Jerry Buttimer TD introducing the report:

Access Report:

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