Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth | Tulsa child rights protections and case accountability
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the extent to which the number of children under the possible threat of mental, physical, sexual or other abuse comes to the attention of Tusla who can engage without interference from any other source; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth if Tusla has been ordered not to interfere in some instances where the children’s rights are being determined by reference to a single person, unchallenged; if Tusla needs to exert itself in respect of its responsibility in such instances; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth if it is deemed to be in accordance with the rights of children, as determined by a referendum and legislation, to forcibly, in certain instances, remove children from the custody of their mother, and place them otherwise in what might be an undesirable situation depending on their circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is the dedicated State agency responsible for supporting and promoting the development, welfare and protection of children. The Child and Family Agency Act 2013 provides that Tusla is independent in the performance of its functions and also places the Agency under a requirement to have regard to the best interests of the child in all matters.
Tusla is aided in its child protection role by the Children First Act 2015 which provides for a number of key child protection measures, including raising awareness of child abuse and neglect; providing for reporting and management of child protection concerns, and, improving child protection arrangements in organisations providing services to children. Theobligations in theAct are intended to ensure that children at risk of harm are brought to Tusla’s attention without delay.
The Child Care Act 1991 is the key piece of legislation whereby the State, as a last resort and for the common good, may intervene to supply the place of parents as provided for under Article 42A.2.1. If a child is in need of care and protection and is unlikely to receive it at home, then Tusla must take them into care. In some cases, a parent may agree to his or her child being taken into the care of Tusla. This is called voluntary care. Tusla can also apply to the court for a number of different orders when it believes that children are at risk or in need of care. These orders give the courts a range of powers including decision-making about the type of care necessary and about access to the child or children for parents and other relatives. In such cases, the court has the power to direct Tusla regarding the care of the child.
In any child care proceedings under the 1991 Act the court must regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. The Deputy will be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Justice has responsibility for private family law proceedings, including separation, divorce and child custody cases and also domestic violence cases.
If a child appears to be at risk of harm or neglect, concerns should be reported to Tusla. If a child is at immediate risk or in danger, the Gardaí should be alerted without delay. If there are any concerns about Tusla’s dealings in a particular case, Tusla should be contacted directly in the first instance.
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