The mission of Catholic Youth Care is to promote a youth work response that is caring, compassionate and Christian and enables young people to participate more fully in the life of society and church. Within this framework, Catholic Youth Care, accepts our responsibility and obligation to safeguard the protection and welfare of children in our care, we undertake to ensure a best practice response to child protection issues by having a clear child protection policy and procedures which are designed to underpin and demonstrate our commitment to our duty of care.
Good practice will contribute towards raising the standards of youth work through the creation of a healthy and safe environment within which children and young people may mature and develop. As far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that the following guidelines are observed:
In your behaviour and by your attitude towards people respect the rights, dignity and worth of every human being.
Take care to ensure that the buildings and/or facilities used for activities with young people are suitable, safe and secure;
Take care to ensure that adequate and appropriate supervision is in place before organising youth work activities, one adult leaders to every eight young people;
Parental consent must be obtained from the parents/guardians before organising activities for the children in your care and enquire for special medical information or dietary requirements;
Keep a record and have access to a record of the names, addresses and contact numbers of the parents/guardians of the young people in your care;
Volunteers and employees must be sensitive to the risks involved in participation in some contact sports with young people and exercise particular caution in areas such as swimming pools, showers etc;
Ensure that every activity conducted at or by your youth club, youth group or summer project is covered under the public liability insurance arrangements organised through CYC
Particular care must be taken to ensure that the privacy of young people is respected in places, such as, swimming pools, showers, toilets and changing rooms. Separate provision must be made for boys and girls
Where possible, there must be adequate and gender based supervision of boys and girls. Supervision must be provided by more than one person;
Be sensitive to the possibility of becoming over involved in spending a disproportionate amount of time with any particular individual;
Maintain appropriate boundaries when dealing with young people entrusted to your care;
Respect the physical integrity of children and young people; this should not preclude normal expressions of warmth or happiness provided that they are acceptable to all parties concerned;
Holidays organised by clubs/groups require careful advance planning and a proportionate number of volunteers to provide supervision. Particular attention should be taken to ensure that the privacy of young people is respected when young people are away from home and sleeping over;
In residential environments there must be adequate and gender based supervision for boys and girls. Arrangements and procedures must be put in place to ensure that supervision is provided, rules and boundaries are made known to the boys and girls involved, and those who have special needs should be accommodated where possible;
Volunteers and staff must not be alone in dormitories or bedrooms in which children are sleeping. If by extraordinary circumstance a volunteer considers it necessary to be in a dormitory or bedroom without accompaniment a written record should be maintained of the circumstances
Volunteers and staff should be sensitive to the potential risk to personal safety and false allegation, which may arise when they meet alone with a young person in a room.
Where it is feasible they might consider leaving the door slightly ajar or informing another colleague that they will be alone in the room with the individual in question. It is recommended that each organisation/group develop a positive attitude among young people that respects the personal space, safety and privacy of their peers.
Casual visits by children and young people to the homes of volunteers and youth workers are to be avoided.
Comments and jokes of a racial or sexual nature which may give offence or which could be interpreted as inappropriate are to be avoided.
Do not give lifts in cars to individual young people.
Follow an agreed Code of Discipline when dealing with disruptive behaviour; children and young people benefit from appropriate correction and clearly understood code of discipline; however corporal punishment of children is not permitted in any circumstances;
Avail of opportunities for further Youth Work training
Youth organisations/groups should offer ongoing development opportunities for volunteers and employees to facilitate the operation of safe practices;
Take care to ensure that the privacy of young people is protected by governing the use of technology that features multi-media imaging mobile phones and digital cameras;
Volunteers must not arrive for an activity under the influence of drugs or alcohol (prescribed medication is not necessarily included in this. Volunteers are asked to discuss and clarify the use of medication that may affect behaviour or judgment with the relevant person on the management committee).
One to One Meetings between employees/volunteers and young people
With the emergence of specific interventions and programmes in Youth Work ,it is now accepted that there are occasions where workers deal with individual young people on a one to one basis. This may also arise in the context of required sanctions or support where a young person needs to be taken out of a group, in their best interests/in the best interests of others. Due to the nature of the relationship between the worker and the young person there may be occasions where the young person wishes to speak/confide in or make a disclosure to a worker. This can be extremely important for the young person and should be handled appropriately.
The following are guidelines for workers in that regard.
Where a young person requests a one to one meeting without warning or where a young person needs to be removed from a group:
If you need to talk separately, try to do so in an open environment, in view of others. If this is not possible, try to meet in rooms with visual access, or with the door open, or in a room/area where other people are nearby.
Workers should advise another worker that such a meeting is taking place and the reason for it. A record should be kept of these meetings including names, dates, times, location, reason for the meeting and outcome.
Workers should never have meetings with individual young people where they are on their own in a building. Should they find themselves in this situation the Team Leader must be notified as soon as possible.
As part of a planned structured piece of work (for example – Gaisce/Presidents Awards, Action Plans for Garda Youth Diversion Projects, etc.).
The particular programme/activity should have a clear rationale, aim, methodology, evaluation mechanism and accompanying work plan.
Such meetings should take place in an appropriate environment.
Parents or guardians should be informed as to the nature and purpose of this work, except in circumstances where to do so might place the child in danger.
Young people should be advised who they should contact if they have any concerns or feel uncomfortable about any aspects of these meetings.
In the context of home visits:
House visits should have a clear purpose and a record of same should be kept.
Team Leaders should be informed if house visits are taking place.
Casual visits to homes of young people should be avoided.
Do not visit a young person’s home on your own.
Do not enter the home of a young person if they are alone in the house.
Visits by young people to homes of staff members should be avoided. If a young people calls to a staff members home, deal with their query at the front door and do not invite them into your home.
When the need for a visit to the home of a child or young person arises, professional boundaries must be observed at all times.
Use of Cars
Staff should not undertake any car or minibus journey alone with a child or young person. If, in certain circumstances, only one adult is available, there should be a minimum of two children or young people present for the entire journey.
In the event of an emergency, where it is necessary to make a journey alone with a child, a record of this should be made and the child’s parent or guardian and the Team Leader should be informed as soon as possible.
Staff who use their own vehicles to transport young people must ensure they have adequate insurance cover (Class 2 insurance) and should never carry more than the permitted number of passengers.
Staff can choose not to transport young people if they so wish but they must be reminded to act in the best interests of the child at all times.
Recruitment and Selection Procedures
All new staff members/volunteers must comply with CYC Good Practice Recruitment and Section Procedures. Each applicant will receive a pack containing CYC information, application form, character reference form and CYC Code of Good Practice. Employment/volunteer duties may commence on notification of a successful outcome by CYC Head Office.
A volunteer, employee or young person who knows or suspects that a young person has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed has a responsibility to convey this concern to the designated person/Child Protection Officer.
In the case of a disclosure, suspicion or allegation of child abuse, the staff member / volunteer must report without delay to the Child Protection Liaison Person in your local regional office or the CYC Child Protection Officer. The Child Protection Liaison Person will report without delay to the Health Service Executive (HSE), who will, in turn, notify An Garda SiochánaI
n an emergency, a report should be made directly to An Garda Siochána. Allegations should always be handled in a sensitive and discreet manner. All reports must be duplicated and passed to the CYC Child Protection Officer. (Child Protection Officer Telephone Number 086 808 3552)
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse
The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to the Health Service Executive or An Garda Siochána. This protection applies to organisation/groups as well as individuals. It is considered, therefore, in the first instance, organisations/groups should assume responsibility for reporting child abuse to the appropriate authorities. Reports to the Health Service Executive and An Garda Siochána should be made by the Child Protection Officer; following their own organisations procedures, which should be consistent with the standard reporting procedures outlined in Children First. Each organisation should ensure that reports are passed on as quickly as possible to the statutory authorities.
In keeping with good practice procedures CYC is mandated to implement Garda Vetting as part of our recruitment and selection procedures. As and from 1st September 2006 all new staff members/volunteers must complete a Garda Vetting Form. Employment and volunteer duties cannot be commenced until the applicant receives notification from CYC.
It is important that the Child Protection Policy of a group or organisation operate strict codes of confidentiality. Confidentiality is about managing sensitive information that arises in a trusting relationship and doing so in a manner that is respectful, professional and purposeful.
In matters of child abuse a volunteer/employer should never promise to keep secret any information which is divulged. If a young person discloses information to a volunteer/employee, he or she should explain that it cannot be kept secret. The volunteer/employee should also, as supportively as possible, explain what will happen to the information and what the outcome of reporting is likely to be. All information regarding concern or assessment of child abuse should only be shared on “a need to know” basis in the best interest of the child. In other words, it should never be the subject of conversation between other persons in the group or organisation, employees, volunteers or young people, unless they are directly involved. Passing information to the relevant authorities is not a breech of confidentiality. Information, which is gathered for one purpose, should not be used for any other purpose without consulting the person who provided the information.