Dáil Éireann - Volume 675 - 18 February, 2009
Written Answers. - Child Abuse.
Deputy Alan Shatter Deputy Alan Shatter
Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the action taken by her and by the Minister of State for children since the publication on 31 July 2008 of the national review of compliance with Children First, national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children to ensure the guidelines are fully implemented and uniformly applied throughout the State; and if she is satisfied that upon a report being made to the Health Service Executive of a child at risk, there will, in all cases, be a prompt and comprehensive assessment into the circumstances of the child and all necessary intervention required in accordance with the guidelines and the provisions contained in the Child Care Act of 1991 as amended. [6672/09]
Deputy Barry Andrews Deputy Barry Andrews
Deputy Barry Andrews: The provision of appropriate robust and responsive child welfare and protection services is a key priority for both myself, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and the Government.
I understand from the Health Service Executive that the consistent application of the Children First Guidelines is being addressed by the HSE through the ongoing standardisation of Child Welfare and Protection business processes (this project is expected to be completed in 2009) and the refocusing of social work services through the ongoing Social Work Reform programme.
A Senior Officials group, comprising the OMCYA, the HSE, An Garda Síochána, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Education and Science was established in 2008, with a focus to ensure that there is full awareness of child protection policies, guidelines and procedures, to consider how to ensure better knowledge of the Children First Guidelines, better training and education about the Guidelines, to consider processes and protocols for information exchange to ensure full adherence to the Guidelines, and to advise me accordingly.
All child abuse reports to social work departments are subject to a phased process of initial screening and assessment, aimed at providing appropriate interventions. In addition, there are  also legislative mechanisms in place which also allow for responses from Gardaí (for example to take a child to safety in emergency situations relating to welfare and protection).
In relation to that part of your question relating to a report being made to the Health Service Executive of a child at risk, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.
Dáil Éireann 675 Written Answers. Child Abuse.