Helping to keep children safe from harm – new Gov.ie website launched
A new website has been launched to help support vulnerable children, young people and their families during this time of the Covid 19 pandemic. Here is the press release from the launch by Minister Katherine Zappone
Campaign encourages everyone to be mindful of vulnerable children and young people in these challenging times
Supporting Children is a portal on gov.ie, providing access to the many supports and services for children, young people and their families
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has today launched Supporting Children, a campaign to encourage everyone to be mindful of vulnerable children and young people in these challenging times. The Supporting Children campaign includes the launch of a new gov.ie webpage, gov.ie/supportingchildren, which will be an information hub for children, young people and their families on how to access the many supports and services provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and their funded organisations.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla have a robust infrastructure of services providing assistance to children, young people and families throughout Ireland, involving over 800 funded organisations. This existing system of supports, with an effective coordinating structure, was mobilised during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that vulnerable children and their families could still access the services they needed. These supports include services designated as essential front-line services in the COVID-19 crisis (those addressing child protection; children in care; domestic, sexual and gender based violence; and certain youth work services), other key supports (youth, community, and family services) and coordinating structures (Children and Young People’s Services Committees). These services responded and adapted in innovative ways to continue to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of children and young people.
Tusla continue with their essential work in child protection. Anyone with a concern about a child’s safety or welfare should contact their local duty social work office using details on the Tusla website.
Launching the campaign, Minister Zappone said:
“These have been and remain challenging times for children, young people and their families. We encourage everyone to look out for those who are vulnerable and be aware of the supports and services that exist through my department, Tusla and our many partner organisations in the community and voluntary sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked on new and innovative ways to ensure the welfare of children and young people and we will continue to do so. My department continues to lead in harnessing the contribution from all stakeholders in improving outcomes for children and young people. The Supporting Children website will help to ensure that these services continue to be readily accessible to those who need them by providing information on services in one place.”
The Supporting Children website provides information on Child Protection and Welfare, with guidance on how to report concerns about a child, as well as Parenting and Family Supports, Education Supports, Youth Services, services for Children in Care, and Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services.
It shows the breadth of services and supports for children provided by the State and Community and Voluntary sectors and outlines the actions and innovations taken by services in responding to the challenges of COVID-19. The website also includes links and contact details to organisations such as Parentline, Childline, Barnardos as well as how to find local Family Resource Centres (FRC) and Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC).
The website provides information on a number of topics including:
Parenting and Family Support
Child Protection and Welfare
Children in Care
Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services
Safer Internet Day takes place next Tuesday, 7th February 2023. Sadly more than 1 in 4 young people in Ireland have experienced cyberbullying, yet only 60% of victims tell their parents. As teenagers and children spend more time on the internet, ensuring it's a safe space is ever more important.
To encourage conversation about life online and help parents keep their children safe, I'd like to share a free resource created by Switcher.ie.
It's a comprehensive guide which includes things like:
How to reduce the risks online
How to recognise cyber bullying and grooming
How to educate children on cyber safety
How to set up parental controls on devices
I thought it may be useful to share the link to the guide - https://switcher.ie/broadband/guides/how-to-keep-your-children-safe-online/ - which you can include on your website ahead of Safer Internet Day, to help parents and children who may need some extra support.
We've also put together some handy top tips you can use on your website:
10 tips to keep your children safe online
Talk about it:Make time to chat about online risks and how to use the internet safelyas soon as they're old enough to go online. Encourage your children to speak to you about what they view online and empower them to act if they're worried about anything.
Recognise the risks: Educate yourself about the potential dangers children could face online so it’s easier to spot warning signs. Get to know what platforms your children use, and learn about dangers such as phishing, grooming and cyberbullying.
Teach the do's and don'ts: Be clear about the non-negotiables. For example, teach your child not to share personal details or photos with strangers and instruct them not to click on links to unknown websites or texts. Do encourage your child to question what they see and only accept friend requests from people they know.
Spot the signs: Pay attention to your children's behaviour whilst on and off their devices. Being alert to changes in your child can help prevent problems from escalating. Some warning signs are withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping and eating problems or losing interest in previously loved hobbies or interests.
Set boundaries:Let your children know what they can and can't do on the internet from the get-go. Agree on what devices they can use, when, and how long they can spend online. As they get older, explaining and negotiating boundaries may be more effective.
Take 'parental' control: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider at device level to block specific websites and filter out inappropriate content.
Be social media savvy: The popularity of social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat makes it harder to keep track of what your child is accessing online. Fortunately, each social media platform has its own privacy settings and safety tips for parents. Check them out before you let children have their own accounts.
Protect from harm:Install antivirus software on family devices to minimise the risk of cyber attacks or scams. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security on your online accounts. This can also stop children from signing into services they're not allowed to use.
Set a great example: You're the greatest 'influencer' in your children's lives when they're young. Limiting your time online, discussing dangers you've come across, and questioning what you view can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children and, in turn, influence their online behaviour.
Seek support:The more you learn about online dangers, the better equipped you'll be to handle them. There are some great resources like webwise.ie, internetmatters.organd cybersafekids.ie to help you recognise and reduce online dangers and seek advice if you think your child is experiencing cyberbullying or is at risk online.
Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.
This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services.
What is infant mental health?
Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.
The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.
The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also onwww.MyChild.iewhere key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.
In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of threeeLearning units which are now available onHSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.
Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)
In additionThe National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.iewebsite.
These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).
These new video resources are availableherewhile lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found atwww.mychild.ie
There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from email@example.com