Services for families who are made homeless are under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, and the Local Authorities. These statutory bodies have responsibility for child protection in their own sectors.
The Deputy may wish to note that in the Children First Bill 2014, which is currently progressing through the Oireachtas, persons who are employed as managers of homeless or emergency provision facilities are specified as mandated persons. Furthermore, homeless and emergency provision facilities will be required to consider the potential for risk to children availing of their services and demonstrate awareness and good practice in a publicly available Child Safeguarding Statement.
In general, my Department is taking a lead role in the cross-sectoral implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children . Under the Bill, the existing Children First Implementation Inter-Departmental Group will be put on a statutory basis, and it proposed that its membership will comprise representatives from all Government Departments, including the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The purpose of the Group is to promote the importance of Children First compliance across Government and to ensure a consistent approach is adopted.
In July 2013 the Government approved the publication of Departmental Children First Sectoral Implementation Plans on the website of each relevant Government Department, which included the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government . These Implementation Plans are high level documents setting out implementation requirements for each parent Department and for agencies under its aegis which have contact with children and young people. The Plans set out the mechanisms in place, or to be put in place, to support the continued implementation of Children First Guidance at sectoral level. These plans were for a period of one year, and are due to be reviewed in the coming months.
The next phase of the Interdepartmental Group’s work will focus on quality assurance mechanisms in relation to implementation and compliance, and the necessary preparatory work which is required prior to the commencement of the Children First Bill.