Belfast Telegraph

Child safety points 'common sense'

New mandatory standards for the protection and welfare of Ireland's most vulnerable children are common sense, it has been claimed.

The 27 new points will make a difference to the lives of thousands of youngsters in care, the health watchdog said.

Pat McGrath, chairman of the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), said all of society had failed children too many times.

Child protection services have also been criticised in a string of damning reports in recent years, which highlighted chronic system failures in cases where children suffered abuse, neglect or ultimately died.

"In the past too many people could say they didn't really know what child protection was," said Mr McGrath.

"These (standards) are not written in legalese, not written in bureaucratic speech. They are written in plain English and they make common sense. And with the launch of these standards nobody can say in the future 'I didn't really know what child protection meant'."

The new Hiqa national standards were launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald. They fall under six themes and focus on child centres services; safe and effective services; leadership, governance and management; workforce; and use of information and of services.

Tracey Cooper, Hiqa chief executive, said the measures radically strengthen and improve services and were a significant milestone in putting safer and more reliable child protection systems in place for vulnerable and at-risk children.

"With the scale and seriousness of child abuse and neglect in Ireland highlighted in various inquiry reports in recent years, it has been clear for some time that the needs of vulnerable children have not always been responded to in an appropriate and timely way," said Ms Cooper.

"As a society we need to learn from the past and take steps to ensure that services work effectively and safely to deliver better care and support for our vulnerable children."

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