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
  • Youth Services
  • Education Support
  • Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services

The website can be accessed at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/42dcb-supporting-children/

 

Child abuse: recognise and report


Social isolation due to COVID19 makes it harder for authorities to identify child abuse cases. That is why it’s important for essential workers with potential access to family homes to be able to recognise signs of abuse and know where to report their concerns.

If you have concerns, take action and report your concerns to Tusla. We all have a role to play in protecting children.

Types of Abuse:

Neglect Lack of care or supervision Child deprived of food, clothing, hygiene, safety, mental stimulation, etc.

Physical Child is deliberately physically hurt or is at risk of being physically hurt e.g.: Shaking child, using excessive force

Emotional Child’s need for affection, approval, security are not met e.g. excessive punishment, exposure to domestic violence

Sexual Child is used for someone else’s sexual gratification/arousal

Possible signs of abuse

Neglect

  • Child says no one is at home to provide care Is being cared for by an inappropriate adult
  • Is often dirty/has severe body odour
  • Lacks enough/appropriate clothing for weather
  • Lacks medical or dental care
  • Lacks enough food/water
  • Begs or steals food/money
  • Abuses alcohol/drugs

Physical

  • Child has unexplained injuries (burns, bites, bruises, black eyes, broken bones)
  • Reports injury by parent/caregiver
  • Is scared of parents/caregivers
  • Shrinks when approached by adults
  • Is scared/anxious, depressed, withdrawn, aggressive
  • Abuses animals/pets

Emotional

  • Child shows extreme behaviours (is too passive/aggressive or too submissive/demanding)
  • Acts too old or too young for their age (e.g. is parenting other children or often rocking/banging head)
  • Expresses depressive/suicidal thoughts

Sexual

  • Child has difficulty walking/sitting
  • Has bleeding, bruising, swelling around private parts
  • Attaches very quickly to strangers/new adults
  • Shows unusual, sophisticated sexual knowledge or behaviour
  • Reports nightmares/bedwetting
  • Observes/shares sexual images online
  • Parent/caregiver observes/shares sexual images online in presence of children

WHEN to report:

You should report abuse when:

  • You witness an incident/sign (outlined above) consistent with abuse
  • A child says or indicates in some other way that they’ve been abused
  • An adult or child admits that they’ve committed abuse
  • Another person shares that they’ve witnessed or know about a child being abused

HOW to report:

  • You can report your concerns in person, by phone, or by email to the local Tusla Children and Family Services centre in the area where the child lives.
  • You can choose to keep your report anonymous.
  • You should contact Tusla even if you’re unsure about reporting; they will talk to you and decide what to do.
  • If a child is in immediate danger, contact the Gardaí at 112/999 or www.garda.ie

You are legally protected

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 protects you when reporting suspected child abuse to Tusla or an Garda Síochána IF you believe your report is true and your report is not malicious.

If you have concerns and want to discuss them with a Tusla Social Worker click the link for contact details in Donegal https://www.tusla.ie/services/child-protection-welfare/contact-a-social-worker/donegal-social-work-duty-teams/

You can phone 074 9123672 to speak to a Duty Social Worker here in County Donegal

Here is the link to a poster with all the information provided above

Tusla Information Leaflet (FINAL) (1)