On 02 October 2017 Minister Katherine Zappone T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced that the remaining provisions of the Children First Act will be commenced on 11 December 2017.

The Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 (the “2017 Guidance”) was also launched on 02 October 2017. The 2017 Guidance revises and replaces the 2011 version of the Children First Guidance. The 2017 Guidance is intended to assist people in recognising child abuse and neglect and in reporting reasonable concerns to Tusla. The 2017 Guidance has been updated to reflect the provisions of the Children First Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”) and it includes specific information for those persons and organisations who will acquire legal obligations under the legislation when it is fully commenced on 11 December 2017.

The Guidance also outlines the roles of the main statutory bodies involved in child welfare and protection: Tusla – Child and Family Agency and An Garda Síochána. It contains details of how to report a concern about a child and what happens once the report is received by Tusla.

Legal advice should be taken if an organisation or person is unsure as to whether any obligations arise for them under the 2015 Act.

Concerning information about abuse or harm to a child may come to the attention of many Public and Regulatory Bodies in the course of exercising its functions.

Consideration should be given by such bodies, whether to put a child protection policy in place or whether updates are required to an existing child protection policy to reflect these recent developments.