CHILD PROTECTION& WELFARE POLICY 2021
1. Child Protection Policy Statement
2. Definitions of Abuse
3. Reporting Procedures
4. Designated Liaison Person
5. Guidance on Confidentiality
6. Record Keeping
7. Safe Recruitment Procedures for Workers
8. Safe Management of Workers
9. Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Abuse Against Workers. 10. Code of Behaviour between Workers and Children
11. Parental Involvement/ Sharing
12. Involving Children
13. Complaints Procedures for Workers, Parents and Children
14. Accidents / Incidents Procedures
1. Child Protection Policy Statement The welfare of children is of paramount importance. Society has a duty of care towards children and everyone should be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be being abused or at risk of being abused. Monkeyshine’s Child Protection and Welfare Policy is designed to assist those who work for Monkeyshine in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect. All individuals who engage in work with Monkeyshine must be familiar with and adhere to this policy.
Monkeyshine is committed to:
. promoting the general welfare, health, development and safety of children;
. adopting and consistently applying a safe and clearly defined method of recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers;
. developing guidance and procedures for staff and volunteers who may have reasonable grounds for concern about the safety and welfare of children involved with the organisation.
. identifying a designated liaison person to act as a liaison with outside agencies and a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has child protection and welfare concerns. The designated liaison person is responsible for reporting allegations or concerns of child abuse to the HSE Children and Family Services or to An Garda Síochána;
. raising awareness within the organisation about potential risks to children’s safety and welfare;
. developing effective procedures for responding to accidents and complaints;
. ensuring that clear procedures in relation to record-keeping of child protection and welfare concerns are in place and are operating effectively, taking appropriate account of the need to ensure that such records are kept securely and cooperating with the HSE Children and Family Services on the sharing of records where a child welfare or protection issue arises.
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. Where there are concerns about a child’s welfare, there should be opportunities provided for their views to be heard independently of their parents/carers.
Monkeyshine is committed to cultural and creative development of all children and in all actions will act with intent to keep them safe.
This policy will be reviewed by Kareen Pennefather on the 11th January 2022 to insure that it is compliant, relevant and up to do date with current policy and legislation.
2. Definition of Abuse
This Chapter outlines the definitions of abuse and gives guidance for recognising child protection and welfare concerns.
2.1 Types of child abuse 2.1.1 This section outlines the principal types of child abuse and offers guidance on how to recognise such abuse. Child abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. A child may be subjected to one or more forms of abuse at any given time. (In the Children First: National Guidance, ‘a child’ means a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married.)
2.2 Definition of ‘neglect’
2.2.1 Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, and/or medical care.
2.2.2 Harm can be defined as the ill-treatment or the impairment of the health or development of a child. Whether it is significant is determined by the child’s health and development as compared to that which could reasonably be expected of a child of similar age.
2.2.3 Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point. For example, a child who suffers a series of minor injuries may not be having his or her needs met in terms of necessary supervision and safety. A child whose height or weight is significantly below average may be being deprived of adequate nutrition. A child who consistently misses school may be being deprived of intellectual stimulation.
2.2.4 The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her well-being and/or development are severely affected.
2.3 Definition of ‘emotional abuse’
2.3.1 Emotional abuse is normally to be found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s developmental need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical signs or symptoms. Examples may include:
(i) the imposition of negative attributes on a child, expressed by persistent criticism, sarcasm, hostility or blaming;
(ii) conditional parenting in which the level of care shown to a child is made contingent on his or her behaviours or actions;
(iii) emotional unavailability of the child’s parent/carer;
(iv) unresponsiveness of the parent/carer and/or inconsistent or inappropriate expectations of the child;
(v) premature imposition of responsibility on the child;
(vi) unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the child’s capacity to understand something or to behave and control himself or herself in a certain way;
(vii) under- or over-protection of the child;
(viii) failure to show interest in, or provide age-appropriate opportunities for, the child’s cognitive and emotional development;
(ix) use of unreasonable or over-harsh disciplinary measures;
(x) exposure to domestic violence;
(xi) exposure to inappropriate or abusive material through new technology.
2.3.2 Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning. Examples of these include insecure attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and developmental underachievement, and oppositional behaviour. The threshold ofsignificant harm is reached when abusive interactions dominate and become typical of the relationship between the child and the parent/carer.
2.4 Definition of ‘physical abuse’
2.4.1 Physical abuse of a child is that which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction, or lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust. There may be single or repeated incidents. Physical abuse can involve:
(i) severe physical punishment;
(ii) beating, slapping, hitting or kicking;
(iii) pushing, shaking or throwing;
(iv) pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling;
(v) terrorising with threats;
(vi) observing violence;
(vii) use of excessive force in handling;
(viii) deliberate poisoning;
(x) fabricated/induced illness;
(xi) allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.
2.5 Definition of ‘sexual abuse’
2.5.1 Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of child sexual abuse include:
(i) exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of the child;
(ii) intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification;
(iii) masturbation in the presence of the child or the involvement of the child in an act of masturbation;
(iv) sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal;
(v) sexual exploitation of a child, which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requiring or permitting a child to solicit for, or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts. Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modelling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act, including its recording (on lm, video tape or other media) or the manipulation, for those purposes, of the image by computer or other means. It may also include showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse;
(vi) consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person. In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that, for the purposes of the criminal law, the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years for both boys and girls. An Garda Síochána will deal with the criminal aspects of the case under the relevant legislation.
2.5.2 It should be noted that the definition of child sexual abuse presented in this section is not a legal definition and is not intended to be a description of the criminal offence of sexual assault.
2.6 Recognising child neglect or abuse
2.6.1 Child neglect or abuse can often be difficult to identify and may present in many forms. A list of indicators of child abuse is contained in 2.7.4. No one indicator should be seen as conclusive in itself of abuse. It may indicate conditions other than child abuse. All signs and symptoms must be examined in the context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.
2.7 Guidelines for recognition
2.7.1 The ability to recognise child abuse can depend as much on a person’s willingness to accept the possibility of its existence as it does on their knowledge and information. There are commonly three stages in the identification of child neglect or abuse:
(i) considering the possibility;
(ii) looking out for signs of neglect or abuse;
(iii) recording of information.
Stage 1: Considering the possibility
2.7.2 The possibility of child abuse should be considered if a child appears to have suffered a suspicious injury for which no reasonable explanation can be offered. It should also be considered if the child seems distressed without obvious reason or displays persistent or new behavioural problems. The possibility of child abuse should also be considered if the child displays unusual or fearful responses to parents/carers or older children. A pattern of ongoing neglect should also be considered even when there are short periods of improvement.
Stage 2: Looking out for signs of neglect or abuse
2.7.3 Signs of neglect or abuse can be physical, behavioural or developmental. They can exist in the relationships between children and parents/carers or between children and other family members/other persons. A cluster or pattern of signs is more likely to be indicative of neglect or abuse. Children who are being abused may hint that they are being harmed and sometimes make direct disclosures. Disclosures should always be taken very seriously and should be acted upon, for example, by informing the HSE Children and Family Services. The child should not be interviewed in detail about the alleged abuse without first consulting with the HSE Children and Family Services. This may be more appropriately carried out by a social worker or An Garda Síochána. Less obvious signs could be gently explored with the child, without direct questioning. Play situations, such as drawing or story-telling, may reveal information.
2.7.4 Some signs are more indicative of abuse than others. These include: (i) disclosure of abuse by a child or young person;
(ii) age-inappropriate or abnormal sexual play or knowledge;
(iii) specific injuries or patterns of injuries;
(iv) absconding from home or a care situation;
(v) attempted suicide;
(vi) underage pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease;
(vii) signs in one or more categories at the same time. For example, signs of developmental delay, physical injury and behavioural signs may together indicate a pattern of abuse.
2.7.5 Many signs of abuse are non-specific and must be considered in the child’s social and family context. It is important to be open to alternative explanations for physical or behavioural signs of abuse.
Stage 3: Recording of information
2.7.6 If neglect or abuse is suspected and acted upon, for example, by informing the HSE Children and Family Services, it is important to establish the grounds for concern by obtaining as much information as possible. Observations should be accurately recorded and should include dates, times, names, locations, context and any other information that may be relevant. Care should be taken as to how such information is stored and to whom it is made available.
2.8 Children with additional vulnerabilities
2.8.1 Certain children are more vulnerable to abuse than others. Such children include those with disabilities, children who are homeless and those who, for one reason or another, are separated from their parents or other family members and who depend on others for their care and protection. The same categories of abuse – neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse – are applicable, but may take a slightly different form. For example, abuse may take the form of deprivation of basic rights, harsh disciplinary regimes or the inappropriate use of medications or physical restraints (see also Chapter 8).
3. Reporting Procedures This chapter outlines reasonable grounds for concern, the responsibility of the worker to report abuse and the procedures to do so.
3.1 Reporting ProceduresIf a worker has reasonable grounds for concern, they must be reported to the designated liaison person or the deputy designated liaison person. In the organisation of Monkeyshine the designated liaison person is Kareen Pennefather. The deputy designated liaison person is James Jobson. Contact details for Kareen Pennefather and James Jobson can be found in section 4.
It is the responsibility of Kareen Pennefather to act as a liaison with outside agencies and a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has child protection concerns.
. The designated liaison person is responsible for ensuring that the standard reporting procedure is followed, so that suspected cases of child neglect or abuse are referred promptly to the designated person in the HSE Children and Family Services or in the event of an emergency and the unavailability of the HSE, to An Garda Síochána.
. The designated liaison person should ensure that they are knowledgeable about child protection and undertake any training considered necessary to keep themselves updated on new developments.
. Any person reporting a child abuse or neglect concern should do so without delay to the HSE Children and Family Services. A report can be made in person, by telephone or in writing.
. Contact Details. HSE LoCall Tel. 1850 241850.
. Before deciding whether or not to make a formal report, you may wish to discuss your concerns with a health professional or directly with the HSE Children and Family Services
. Kilkenny: (056) 778 4600
. The Standard Report Form for reporting child welfare and protection concerns to the HSEshould be used when reporting child protection and welfare concerns to the HSE Children and Family Services. If a report is made by telephone, this form should be completed and forwarded subsequently to the HSE.
. Any person with serious concern that a child is missing should immediately report concerns to An Garda Síochána. The HSE Children and Family Services should always be informed when a person has reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been, is being or is at risk of being abused or neglected.
Child protection concerns should be supported by evidence that indicates the possibility of abuse or neglect.
A concern about a potential risk to children posed by a specific person, even if the children are unidentifiable, should also be communicated to the HSE Children and Family Services.
The guiding principles in regard to reporting child abuse or neglect may be summarised as follows:
(i) the safety and well-being of the child must take priority;
(ii) reports should be made without delay to the HSE Children and Family Services.
Any professional who suspects child abuse or neglect should inform the parents/carers if a report is to be submitted to the HSE Children and Family Services or to An Garda Síochána, unless doing so is likely to endanger the child.
Any reasonable concern or suspicion of abuse or neglect must elicit a response. Ignoring the signals or failing to intervene may result in ongoing or further harm to the child.
Section 176 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 introduced the criminal charge of reckless endangerment of children. It states: ‘A person, having authority or control over a child or abuser, who intentionally or recklessly endangers a child by –
(a) causing or permitting any child to be placed or left in a situation which creates a substantial risk to the child of being a victim of serious harm or sexual abuse, or
(b) failing to take reasonable steps to protect a child from such a risk while knowing that the child is in such a situation, is guilty of an offence.’
The penalty for a person found guilty of this offence is a fine (no upper limit) and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
In those cases where an organisation decides not to report concerns to the HSE or An Garda Síochána, the individual employee or volunteer who raised the concern should be given a clear written statement of the reasons why the organisation is not taking such action. The employee or volunteer should be advised that if they remain concerned about the situation, they are free as individuals to consult with, or report to, the HSE or An Garda Síochána.
In all incidents, including those that are not reported to the HSE or An Garda Síochána must be reported to the designated liaison person and a written account must be filed in the incidents report book.
3.3 Legal ProtectionThe Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 makes provision for the protection from civil liability of persons who have communicated child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of the HSE (see section 14) or to any member of An Garda Síochána. This protection applies to organisations as well as to individuals. This means that even if a communicated suspicion of child abuse proves unfounded, a plaintiff who took an action would have to prove that the person who communicated the concern had not acted reasonably and in good faith in making the report.
A person who makes a report in good faith and in the child’s best interests may also be protected under common law by the defence of qualified privilege.
3.4 Retrospective disclosures by adults An increasing number of adults are disclosing abuse that took place during their childhoods. Such disclosures often come to light when adults attend counselling. It is essential to establish whether there is any current risk to any child who may be in contact with the alleged abuser revealed in such disclosures.
If any risk is deemed to exist to a child who may be in contact with an alleged abuser, the counsellor/ health professional should report the allegation to the HSE Children and Family Services without delay.
The HSE National Counselling Service is in place to listen to, value and understand those who have been abused in childhood. The service is a professional, confidential counselling and psychotherapy service and is available free of charge in all regions of the country (see www.hse-ncs.ie/en). The service can be accessed either through healthcare professionals or by way of self-referral (Freephone 1800 477477).
4. Designated Liaison Persons
Designated Liaison Person: Kareen Pennefather
Job Title: Co-Director of Monkeyshine
Phone: 00353 (0) 87 392 4954
Designated Deputy Liaison Person: James Jobson
Job Title: Co-Director of Monkeyshine
Phone: 00353 (0) 87 962 2806
5. Guidance on Confidentiality Confidentiality and anonymity All information regarding a concern or an assessment of child abuse should be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis in the interests of the child. No undertakings regarding secrecy can be given. Those working with a child and family should make this clear to all parties involved, although they can be assured that all information will be handled taking full account of legal requirements. The provision of information to the statutory agencies for the protection of a child is not a breach of confidentiality or data protection. Concerns about a child that are reported anonymously should be followed up fully in accordance with HSE standard procedures. If the report has been made through a third party, the person mediating should be requested to facilitate contact between the original person who reported the concern and the HSE Children and Family Services. If, however, contact is not facilitated, for whatever reason, the concerns reported via the third party must be fully investigated. Any professional who suspects child abuse or neglect should inform the parents/carers if a report is to be submitted to the HSE Children and Family Services or to An Garda Síochána, unless doing so is likely to endanger the child. Monkeyshine will cooperate fully with the HSE Children and Family Services on the sharing of records where a child welfare or protection issue arises.
6. Record Keeping All records of concerns, allegations or disclosures of child abuse will be stored in the Monkeyshine office The Friary, Mill St, Callan, Co. Kilkenny. Access to the records will be restricted to the designated liaison and deputy designated liaison and any information will be shared on a strictly need to know basis. All records regarding child protection and welfare shall be held in perpetuity.
7. Safe Recruitment Procedures for Workers All workers at Monkeyshine will be Garda Vetted by the company. All workers will have clear job descriptions and where a role involves interaction with children the worker will be well informed as to their role and responsibilities. Where Garda Vetting needs to be sought from another jurisdiction Monkeyshine will request this information. In the event of a disclosure, senior staff will decide suitability of the worker taking into account the disclose and will operate other recruitment methods such as rigorous checking of references, interview procedures and monitoring of good professional practice. All new workers will be provided with an example Declaration Form along with a copy of the Child Protection and Welfare Policy. A copy of photographic Identification for each worker shall be kept on record alongside their Garda Vetting form. All workers will sign a induction contract, stating that they have been provided with and will comply to Monkeyshine’s Child Protection and Welfare Policy.
8. Safe Management of Workers 8.1 Supervision and Support All new workers who have direct interaction with children will be provided informal supervision from at least one permanent worker. Regular informal sessions will be made available to provide support where needed in regards to information on child protection and welfare. Where a worker is dealing with or has dealt with an incident, concern or disclosure Monkeyshine will provide support within the organisation and where necessary shall seek external professional support.
8.2 Training and Induction All workers will receive induction in the Monkeyshine’s Child Protection and Welfare Policy and will complete the Tusla Children First E-Learning Programme. All will be required to sign an induction contract to state that they will comply. The development of Monkeyshine’s Child Protection and Welfare training will be reviewed annually.
9. Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Abuse Against Workers. Action taken in reporting an allegation of child abuse against an employee should be based on an opinion formed ‘reasonably and in good faith’. It will be necessary to decide whether a formal report should be made to the HSE Children and Family Services. However, the protection and welfare of the child must always be the paramount concern.
If an allegation is made against a worker the person responsible for dealing with the child and reporting procedures to Tusla/ Garda An Garda Síochána is Kareen Pennefather.
The person responsible for dealing with the worker HR / organisational disciplinary procedures is James Jobson.
When an employer becomes aware of an allegation of abuse of a child or children by an employee during the execution of that employee’s duties, the employer should privately inform the employee of the following:
· the fact that an allegation has been made against him or her;
· the nature of the allegation. The employee should be afforded an opportunity to respond. The employer should note the response and pass on this information if making a formal report to Tusla
· All stages of the process must be recorded.
Monkeyshine will liaise closely with the investigating bodies to ensure that actions taken by the Monkeyshine will not undermine or frustrate any investigation.
10. Code of Behaviour between Workers and Children 10.1 Remember that individual workers have a responsibility to protect and promote children’s rights by:
· Treating them with dignity, sensitivity and respect
· Making time to listen, talk to and get to know the children
· Making sure that children know the organisation’s rules about behaviour
· Encouraging children to have an input into how things are run
· Helping children to be safe, happy and having as much fun as possible
· Never favouring one child or children over others
· Enabling children to regard their bodies as their own property
· Encouraging them to express feelings, fears and experiences openly
· Giving written information about the organisation to children and their parents/carers
· Knowing about the principles and practices of child protection including their legal duties
· Never engaging in sexually provocative games or make suggestive comments, even in fun
· Respecting children’s privacy in bathrooms or changing rooms
· Sensitively ensuring that children know about the child protection policy · Always responding to complaints or allegations
· Helping children realise the difference between confidentiality and secrecy
· Being sensitive to the fact that some children are more vulnerable and have special needs
· Never using physical punishment with children
10.2 Codes of behaviour between workers and children Workers should be sensitive to the risks involved in participating in contact sports or other activities. While physical contact is a valid way of comforting, reassuring and showing concern for children, it should only take place when it is acceptable to all persons concerned. Workers should never physically punish or be in any way verbally abusive to a child, nor should they even tell jokes of a sexual nature in the presence of children.Workers should be sensitive to the possibility of developing favouritism, or becoming over involved or spending a great deal of time with any one child. Children should be encouraged to report cases of bullying to either a designated person, or a worker of their choice. Complaints must be brought to the attention of management. Everyone involved in the organisation should respect the personal space, safety and privacy of individuals. It is not recommended that workers give lifts to individual young people, especially for long journeys.
10.3 Safe Management of Activities
10.3.1 In all activities where a worker has direct interaction and is in a position of responsibility to a child the following adult to child ratios will be adhered to:
0 - 2 years 1 adult to 3 children
2 - 3 years 1 adult to 4 children
4 - 8 years 1 adult to 6 children
9 - 12 years 1 adult to 8 children
13 - 18 years 1 adult to 10 children
All photography of activities remain the property of Monkeyshine and will only be shared with the appropriate consent of photography release forms.
10.3.3. Disclosures If a worker has concerns regarding another worker, these should always be reported to the designated liaison.
11. Parental Involvement/ Sharing In all direct activity with children by Monkeyshine a parental consent form will be kept on record. This will include: ·
Outline of activities·
Name of child and guardian·
Address of child ·
Emergency Contact Number ·
Photography release form Where children are working towards a performance, parents and guardians will be invited as audiences members.
12. Involving Children Monkeyshine have a children’s guide to our child protection policy that will be made available when deemed appropriate and delivered in an age appropriate manner. Monkeyshine have a code of behaviour that will be made available and delivered in an age appropriate manner. Within this the rights of the child to be protected, treated with respect, listened to and have their views taken into consideration are explained and are fundamental to Monkeyshine’s mode of operation.
13. Complaints Procedures for Workers, Parents and Children A complaint is a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable in the context of the activity of the organisation. A complaint can be made by any worker, parent or child to any member of the organisation. If the complaint cannot be resolved at this level the complaint should be reported to the Co-Director Kareen Pennefather and where appropriate, recorded in a complaints form. Where a complaint cannot or should not be dealt with within the organisation, the organisation will consult with the board and where necessary will engage with the appropriate authority. The complaints procedure is provided to all workers on induction and is available to any parent or child on request. Feedback to all involved will be given in line and according to the procedures laid out in Monkeyshine’s CP&WP.
14. Accidents / Incidents Procedures Emergency numbers are displayed on the Monkeyshine notice board located in the office. All staff are made aware of first aid procedures on induction. A first aid box is located in the Monkeyshine office. Accidents and incidents are recorded in separately allocated books, located in the Monkeyshine office. Monkeyshine are annually insured to cover all activities. Contact details: Duty Social Worker Kilkenny: 052 6177302 Garda Station Kilkenny: 056 777 5000