05 October 2017

**COMMENCEMENT OF CHILDREN FIRST ACT ANNOUNCED**

**COMMENCEMENT OF CHILDREN FIRST ACT ANNOUNCED**

On October 2nd the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD,  announced that as of 11th December 2017 all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015 will commence. This is a hugely significant development that will impact all youth theatres.

Provisions of the legislation include:

  •  Mandatory reporting of child abuse by certain professionals (including those responsible for child protection and welfare in organisations offering services to children and young people)
  • A legal obligation on organisations to prepare and publish a Child Safeguarding Statement.

The obligations on mandated reporters will take effect immediately on 11th December. Organisations will have three months from that date to comply with their obligations in relation to publishing a Child Safeguarding Statement and must be fully compliant with the Act by 11th March 2018.

Minister Zappone also launched the Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 which provide guidance on implementing the provisions of the Act.

Youth Theatre Ireland will be updating our resources and guidelines for youth theatres to reflect the updated national guidelines, and will work to advise youth theatres on the steps required to becoming fully compliant with the legislation.

 In the meantime, youth theatres are advised to become familiar with the Children First National Guidance 2017, and the accompanying supporting resources, available from the Tusla website http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-2017/ . These include a guide for reporting child protection and welfare concerns, and also guidance for organisations  on developing a Child Safeguarding Statement.

 A free, online child welfare and protection e-learning programme module has also been prepared by Tusla and is now available for everyone, free of charge also on www.tusla.ie

For more information and any queries regarding this matter please refer to the Tusla website or contact Youth Theatre Ireland’s Child Protection and Welfare Officer, Louise Holian at louise@youththeatre.ie

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18 October