The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department has a Child Protection and Welfare Policy and a Garda Vetting Policy, both of which mandate that all staff in accommodation centres are vetted by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) in advance of commencing work in an accommodation centre.
This policy is applied to all IPAS accommodation centres as well as all emergency accommodation centres where IPAS has the use of the entirety or the majority of the accommodation available. Staff are re-vetted every three years. IPAS acts as the central conduit for all communications between the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) and the staff and contractors of all our accommodation centres.
The principal aim of the policy is the minimisation of risk to children and vulnerable adults residing in IPAS provided accommodation. As well as the policy itself, all staff are expected to complete the Introduction to Children First eLearning module provided by Tusla. Staff in all centres are obliged to take part in person on a two-day Children First Training course delivered by a Tusla certified trainer on the IPAS staff team.
All centres are obliged as per the Child Protection and Welfare Policy to draw up a Child Safeguarding Statement for their accommodation centre. These statements are collated by the Child and Family Services Unit within IPAS.
All Managers of IPAS accommodation centres are Mandated Persons under Schedule 2 of the Children First Act 2015.
Mandated persons have two main legal obligations under the Children First Act 2015
- To report harm of children, above a defined threshold, to Tusla
- To assist Tusla, if requested, in assessing a concern which has been the subject of a mandated report.
As a mandated person, under the legislation managers are required to report any knowledge, belief or reasonable suspicion that a child has been harmed, is being harmed, or is at risk of being harmed. The Act defines harm as assault, ill-treatment, neglect or sexual abuse, and covers single and multiple instances.
Managers are provided with the extensive guidance available on the Tusla website as to what constitutes abuse and neglect at the following link https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/mandated-persons/what-are-the-types-of-abuse-and-how-do-i-recognise-them/