Thursday, July 26, 2012

New child protection standards will mean we prevent failure rather than react to it

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Wednesday) said that the new National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children will mean we prevent failure in the future, rather than react to it. The standards were launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, earlier today and have been approved by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

“These new national standards will put an end to the era of reaction when it comes to child protection services; instead we will now aim to prevent failure before it happens. The standards were developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which will constantly test, check and assess their implementation. 

“For too long we have failed vulnerable children, and it is time we all took responsibility. As soon as it came to office this Government put children protection on the national agenda by appointing a senior Minister for Children, who sits at the Cabinet table. This has allowed Minister Fitzgerald to drive forward the reform agenda which Fine Gael pursued in Opposition.

“These standards are the culmination of months and months of hard work. Now, we have been provided with a set of mandatory standards, written in plain English, which clearly and simply set out the standards that must be upheld by service providers. They will help the HSE, and its successor the Child and Family Support Agency, to promote and protect the welfare of vulnerable children. The standards will also enable families and the wider public to understand what they can expect from protection and welfare services. 

“This is about protecting our children from risk and harm, not dealing with the fallout after the damage has been done. Under the standards, service providers must listen to the needs of children, promote wellbeing and focus on positive outcomes. By establishing clear lines of accountability we can deliver services to children based on evidence and good practice.

“The key difference with this set of standards is the monitoring element. From this year, HIQA will be monitoring the HSE and the services it provides to children nationally. Inspections will be carried out to gather evidence, and judgements will be made on whether adequate services are being provided. All of this information will be provided to the Minister for Children, and will be published on HIQA’s website. 

“Through checks and balances, through implementation and monitoring, and through transparency and accountability, we can completely change the way we care for our most vulnerable children, for the betterment of us all.”

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