Children or teenagers who are in a situation of immediate risk may initially be dealt with by An Garda Síochána or by Tusla, but in the main both agencies work together in such cases. Tusla, when alerted to a child at immediate risk, for instance a young child left alone at home or abandoned and if the child needs to be removed from that situation will contact An Garda Síochána. The Gardaí may, under their Section 12 powers in the Child Care Act, remove the child from danger and Tusla will then receive the child into their custody and, following an assessment, may apply for an Emergency Care Order. Tusla has emergency foster placements available for such situations.
Where a child of teenager is identified as being at immediate risk from an adult, Tusla will identify if they can be protected from that person by their parent, or by the removal of the adult posing the risk. In such situations Tusla are likely to call a strategy meeting with relevant professionals to share information and to develop a safety plan for the child or teenager. If they cannot be protected in their home, Tusla will apply to the Courts for an Emergency Care Order.
If a child or teenager appears to be at risk of harm or neglect, it is appropriate to report concerns to Tusla. Anyone can report a concern about a child to Tusla, and information on how to do so is available on the Tusla website. If a child or teenager is at immediate risk or in danger, the Gardaí should be alerted without delay.