03/02/2012

Cross Border Co-Operation On Child Protection Launched

A new joint protocol aimed at protecting vulnerable children on both sides of the border has been formally launched today.

Information in relation to children who are in care, who are on the child protection register, or in respect of whom there is a level of concern and who move between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be shared between the statutory authorities in both jurisdictions.

Welcoming the launch of the Inter-Jurisdictional Protocol for the Transfer of Child Care cases between Northern Ireland and Ireland at the North-South Ministerial Council Health and Food Safety Meeting in Armagh, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Our children’s welfare is paramount and it is only right that they receive the protection deserving to them. Today is the first step towards ensuring this.

“For too long, vulnerable children have fallen off the radar of social services and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs by moving from one jurisdiction to the other.

“This new protocol, of sharing information between statutory authorities will help the authorities on both sides of the border serve the best interests of children concerned and maintain a better standard of care and protection.

“We will be able to focus more closely on those children in the greatest danger and by sharing information will be able to analyse and form the basis for informed assessments of each specific child’s needs and circumstances.”

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs welcoming the agreement stated: "This protocol will ensure that children and families moving between the two jurisdictions receive the care and protection they need in a timely and appropriate manner."

This new protocol follows on from the launch, in 2010 of the North-South Child Protection Hub. The Hub brought together research, policy and practice guidance, inspection reports, serious case reviews, court judgements, news articles and other material relevant to child protection published in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland together with material from Great Britain and other countries.

The Hub is targeted at child protection staff working in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It provides comprehensive information across the range of issues for staff working with children, i.e.legislation, policy, research and practice information. It is updated daily and has cutting edge features that save staff precious time and effort in accessing valuable research and information.

The Minister concluded: “We are making giant strides towards ensuring that child-protection staff, working on both sides of the border, have immediate access to the most up to date information about vulnerable children and their whereabouts.

“I believe we all have a duty to make sure our children are protected and the launch of this new joint protocol will certainly help towards achieving this.”

(GK/DW)

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