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LEGAL ISSUES FOR ALL APPI MEMBERS APPI is pleased to advise that we have organised MANDATED PERSONS TRAINING for all members.

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Draft schedule on each date (you only need to attend on one of the dates)

* Children First:

- National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017

- Children First Act 2015.

- Responsibilities for Mandated Persons

- Identifying Child Abuse

- Four main types of abuse

- Reporting a Child Protection or Welfare Concern

- Case Study

Short break

* Issues around confidentiality, data protection

* Note taking

* Subpoenas

* Appearing as an Expert Witness

Whether or not you yourself work with children, you are considered to be a mandated person, under the Children First Act. The Act continues to grow and develop. In 2017, National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017) was enacted to assist people identify and report cases. In order to be in a position to identify the four main types of abuse it was recognised that professional training become statutory for those working with children and vulnerable adults.

While you may not work directly with children you do work with vulnerable adults, and in doing so you must make informed judgements where suspicions of neglect or abuse is disclosed. As therapists we work within the legal framework of the Children First Act 2015 and as such are bound under law to act as designated, mandated persons to this end. We must also recognise that this legal framework is robust and thus it is necessary to inform ourselves of our obligations and how best we, as therapists, work to safeguard the vulnerable.

For the purpose of understanding Schedule 2 of the Children First act 2015 specifies a number of classes of persons it deems as legally Mandated Persons. Counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists who are registered with a voluntary or professional body are deemed to be mandated persons and therefore are obliged to undergo training in accordance with their role and responsibility.

APPI recognises the importance of compliance in this regard and the need for our members to be informed through mandatory training. The purpose and function of the Children First Act 2015 is briefly synopsised below in order to impress upon members the complexities we encounter and the requirements for training.

From its enactment in 2015, Children First sets out specific protocols for the reporting of suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. The document refers to the shared responsibility of all those who directly or indirectly come into contact with children and vulnerable adults.

“It is intended to assist you, whether you are a member of the public, a professional, employee or volunteer in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect, and to deal effectively with these concerns. It also sets out the statutory responsibilities for mandated persons and organisations under the Childrens First Act 2015 and provides information about how the statutory agencies respond to reports of concerns made about children”. (p3)

In our work it is essential that we recognise that Children First is for everyone and as such we bear the responsibility, both morally and legally, to be able to clearly identify, recognise, respond to and, if necessary, report concerns, observations or disclosures to TUSLA. Guidelines have been in place as far back as 1999 when it was recognised that many of the disclosure cases were retrospective disclosures usually disclosed in therapeutic settings. There is and continues to be the need to evaluate current risk to any child who may be in contact with an alleged abuser.

It is with this in mind that APPI has arranged MANDATED PERSONS TRAINING for all APPI members. This training is compulsory for all members. Latouche Training, legal experts in all aspects of the current legislation, will provide the training for APPI. It is being offered twice. Each member has only to attend on one of these dates. Each is a 3-hour session. You will only need to attend one of these.

As preparation for the training, and to get the best out of it, you should already havecompleted the 90 minute e-learning program available at:https://childrenfirstuniversal.hseland.ie/en/

While the above HSE e-program is a generalised one drawing from the Children First Act, and providing basic information, it raises many more questions than it answers for the professional in the private sector.

It is with this in mind that the program to be delivered to APPI members is conceived as a bespoke training for us which, while certainly covering the content of the legislation, will focus primarily on the practical implications for us as practitioners, will address the legal issues which ensue for clinicians, and will advise on the real, as opposed to the imagined, consequences of the legislation for us in our work. It will provide a basis for us to have access to the facts of how the legislation translates in practice, and so dispel some of the fear and suspicion which has grown up around the topic, empowering us to engage more confidently.

For TUSLA’s statement on the legal obligations of Mandated Persons follow this link: https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/mandated-persons/what-are-the-legal-obligations-of-amandated-person/

During the first four months of the pandemic there was sharp increase in reporting of domestic and sexual abuse. The Rape Crisis Network identified helpline calls alone increased by 23%, with an overall increase of 98% in the number of survivors contacting for counselling supports over the period. Professionals across several disciplines have expressed concerns that children in families where stress has intensified due to Covid-19 are at risk of psychological and sexual abuse .

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