We understand that a number of early years services have been open and operating to support vulnerable children and the children of essential workers throughout this current lockdown period. This is an incredible service and a testament to the professionalism and dedication of all working in early years.
We have all experienced the impact of Covid19 and children in particular, have seen their lives disrupted and much loved and needed daily routines fall by the wayside. As we know, child centred practice is crucial to ensuring that we can build and strengthen relationships with children through positive interactions, listening and encouraging children to voice their concerns, while keeping their health, development and welfare at the centre of all we do.
The Children First National Guidance states that ‘everyone must be alert to the possibility that children they are in contact with may be experiencing abuse or neglect’. In order to ensure that we can recognise signs of abuse or neglect among the children we are working with and know how to respond, we suggest that practitioners take time to refresh their child safeguarding knowledge.
ALL staff in early years services should refamiliarise themselves with their service’s Child Safeguarding Statement and Child Safeguarding Policies and Procedures. It is imperative that all staff are aware of their obligations under the Children First Act, 2015 and the Children First National Guidance, 2017. Management should ensure that the service’s list of Mandated Persons is updated to reflect any staff changes and should also ensure that the DLP contact details are displayed where all staff can access them if necessary.
In advance of further children and staff returning to services across the country throughout March, we have put together some child safeguarding resources to support practitioners who are currently working in services and those who will be returning over the coming weeks.
These are outlined below:
- All staff should complete the Tusla Always Children First eLearning programme prior to their return to work. This can be further supplemented with the National Child Safeguarding Programme Revision Webinar.
- Mandated persons in Early Learning and Care Services should refamiliarise themselves with the Info Blast on the Role of Mandated Persons.
- Those in the role of Designated Liaison Person or Deputy Designated Liaison Person should refamiliarise themselves with the Info Blast of the Role of the DLP and DDLP.
- As reports of incidences of domestic abuse have increased during the Covid19 pandemic, we have put together an Info Blast on Domestic Violence to support children and families
- First Five Continuing Professional Development Resources for Practitioners:
- Tusla: www.tusla.ie/children-first/
- Supporting Children Website: www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/42dcb-supporting-children/
- Barnardos – Supporting Young Children Experiencing Adversity During Covid19: www.barnardos.ie/learning-development/training/elearning/supporting- young-children-experiencing-adversity-during-covid-19