Child: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines a child as anyone under the age of 18 years (CRA, 2010, Tusla, 2019).
Safeguarding: Establishing, appropriately responding, and promoting safe transparent practices and protocols to ensure the child’s safety and well-being and providing quality optimal opportunities for the child to develop and achieve to their fullest potential (Tusla, 2019).
Prerequisites and Policy development
Prerequisites of an Early Years Practitioners either in a paid or voluntary capacity include Garda/police vetting, qualifications, child protection training, knowledge of key legislation, adhering to regulations, and being up to date with the mandatory ECCE policies and procedures within the setting.
In tandem with the landscape of early childhood care and education, the safeguarding of children has positively evolved.
The priority of safeguarding Children from harm and risk has progressively transformed over the last two decades; now comprehensive legislative acts are enshrined to protect, promote and safeguard children from abuse, danger, risk, and harm.
A sample of the extensive pieces of legislation and policy documents illustrated by Tusla (2019) demonstrating the priority and development to safeguard and protect children in a national context are listed at the end of this blog.
What does it mean to have policies in place that keep children safe?
It is the practitioner’s duty of care and responsibility to ensure that the safety and well-being of every child in their care are safeguarded.
From a practitioner’s perspective, the value of policies and procedures in practice is vital.
These crucial policies are the guiding principles that set out a clear and transparent manner that support the commitment, correct procedures, protocols, appropriate response to keep children safe from potential risks, harm, and danger and provide opportunities for optimal growth and development.
One example of a key piece of policy in practice is The Child Safeguarding Statement it is guided by the Children First Act 2015 and Children First National Guidance for Protection and Welfare of Children 2017;This key document is also a legal requirement since March 2018.
It stipulates legislations, regulations in the area of child protection, such as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) includes a risk audit, extensively lists the mandatory policies and procedures that practitioners implement and maintain to safeguard all children attending the setting.
The priority and focus of children's welfare and safety are at the forefront; Early Years practitioners endorse many prerequisites, ie, vetting, qualifications, training and adhering, implementing, and responding appropriately in their role in safeguarding children.
This is crucial, these aforesaid prerequisites, protocols, and practices ensure children are safe from abuse, harm, neglect, risk this is vital to a child’s safety, wellbeing, growth, development, for the child now and later into adulthood.
Outlined in this blog is the progressive transformation in comprehensive national legislation and policy pertinent to protecting and safeguarding children, subsequently resulting in positive and better outcomes for children to reach their full potential.
A sample of the extensive legislation, regulations and policy below illustrated by Tusla (2019) demonstrates the fundamental priority, duties and responsibilities to safeguard and protect children:
Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Children Act 2001, Children First Act 2015, Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012, Criminal Justice Act 2006, Section 176: Reckless Endangerment of Children, Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003, Domestic Violence Act 1996 · Education (Welfare) Act 2000, Education Act 1998, Freedom of Information Act 2014, National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016, Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, Protected Disclosures Act 2014, Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998, Access and Inclusion Model (DCYA 2016), Better Outcomes Brighter Futures (DCYA 2014), Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education (DCYA 2016), Right from the Start (DCYA 2013), Aistear Síolta Practice Guide (NCCA 2015), Better Start (National Early Years Quality Development 2015), Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years’ Service) regulations 2016, Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017, Early Years Education Focused Inspections (DES 2016), Quality and Regulatory Framework – Full Day Care Service and Part-Time Day Care Service, Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA 2009), Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (CECDE 2006).