09 Aug 2022

Prison officers and refugee support staff to get new training in child protection

Midlands Prison: prison and probation staff to receive new Tusla training in child protection

Midlands Prison: prison and probation staff to receive new Tusla training in child protection

Children and young people who are involved in prison visits, who are refugees or in the court system, are to be better supported by staff thanks to new training.

Staff from the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service and the Irish Refugee Protection Programme have completed comprehensive new training provided by Tusla, to tackle potential child welfare and protection concerns among the families they work with.

A recently completed training initiative will enable seven staff to train other colleagues in the prison, probation and refugee services after they participated in a train-the-trainer course in Tusla’s Always Children First foundation programme. The training was provided in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality.

Linda Creamer is Service Director for Tusla.

“This child-centered initiative will equip prison and probation staff members, and those working with refugees, to be more aware of children in their work environment. It will ensure they are protected, listened to, and consulted about their needs. Consequently, staff in these three organisations will be better able to assess the impact of an adult’s behaviour on the child - and to spot signs of potential harm to children.”

She welcomed the interagency approach.

“It’s essential that those working with children and families have an understanding of children’s needs, to respond accordingly, and to make appropriate referrals on foot of information and concerns that they may have. This interagency training partnership is very welcome, especially given the level of interaction that prison and probation officers have with the children, partners and family members of those in their care. Everyone who works in frontline public services has to have an awareness of their roles and responsibilities to protect children in the context in which they are operating.”

Tusla’s universal online elearning course, An Introduction to Children First, provides effective baseline information on Children First policy and guidelines to all personnel who have contact with children and families. However, the additional Always Children First foundation programme training provides face-to-face classroom tuition on Children First, and outlines child safeguarding responsibilities of individuals and organisations.

A similar train-the-trainer initiative is in place within the Early Years Sector, providing child safeguarding training to those working in crèches, pre-school services, and as childminders.

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