Child Protection Policy

Plan recognises the rights of all children within our care to be protected from harm in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Unfortunately all children are potentially at risk from abuse and exploitation by adults. Everyone has a responsibility and a role in protecting children and it is essential that we follow all practical and reasonable steps to counteract any risk to the children within our care.

Our global child protection mission is to:

 Create ‘child safe’ environments – internally and externally – where children are respected, protected empowered and active in their own protection, and where staff are skilled, confident, competent and well supported in meeting their protection responsibilities through clear policies, procedures and good practise.

 Procedures

The outlined procedures form the core of Plan Ireland’s child protection strategy.  All staff members and board members are required to have a good understanding of the basic procedures.

Anyone connected with Plan Ireland and travelling overseas to visit a project is obliged to sign and abide by the policy and procedures in place eg. Child Sponsors, Journalists, donors etc.  Enforcement of this policy will be monitored through an annual Child Protection Audit, risk assessment and a policy review every two years.

Responsibility:

A member of Plan Ireland’s Board is responsible for considering child protection in all board decisions

The Child Protection Focal Point (CPFP) is the key contact for Child Protection.  Any concerns however minor should be brought to his / her attention immediately.  In the absence of the CPFP the CEO or the Global Child Protection Manager at Plan International Headquarters should be contacted.

Plan Ireland will adhere to Irish child protection standards, as outlined in ‘Children First’ -National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, for all work directly involving children at a local level.

Plan staff, board members, interns, volunteers, associates and visitors must:

  1. Never abuse and/or exploit a child or act/behave in a way that places a child at risk of harm
  2. Report any child abuse and protection concerns they have in accordance with applicable local office procedures.
  3. Respond to a child who may have been abused or exploited in accordance with applicable local office procedures.
  4. Cooperate fully and confidentially in any investigation of concerns and allegations.
  5. Contribute to an environment where children are respected and encouraged to discuss their concerns and rights.
  6. Be aware that Plan Ireland will take appropriate legal or other action against Plan Associates and visitors who make false and malicious accusations of child abuse.
  7. Never share your personal contact details with nor ask for or accept such details from any child associated with Plan’s work.
  8. Never make any unsupervised direct/indirect contact (such contact may include but is not limited to visits and any form of communication via social media, emails, letters etc) that is intended to establish personal relationships with any child associated with Plan.

Recruitment:

All candidates are interviewed carefully with child protection in mind.

Selected candidates must sign the child protection policy, disclosure of convictions form and the standards of integrity before commencing employment.

All staff members, board members, volunteers and interns must obtain Garda Vetting which is a condition of continued employment or association.

 

Training:

 Plan Ireland staff must undergo child protection training.

Awareness and update training will be arranged and provided as necessary.

All staff members have a responsibility to consider and help minimise child protection risks within their own areas of responsibility.

Data Protection, Child Information and Images:

The nature of our work means we hold details of children and their families. We are solely responsible for ensuring that the information is not abused and is used for the intended purpose.

All information and images are held securely, databases are password protected and access to information is given on the basis of role.

Suppliers and agencies working on our behalf are made aware of our child protection policy, and must ensure that their operations offer the same degree of protection.

We will only use children’s images or personal information in our marketing, advocacy, fundraising, communication and programme work in ways that will safeguard their dignity and protect their rights.  Permission is always obtained for these images and information.

The internet is an uncontrolled and un-regulated media.  Recognising this we ask sponsors to respect the privacy of their sponsored child and family by refraining from using the internet (especially social media sites) to share their details publicly.

Plan Ireland monitor all internet traffic and web usage for inappropriate content.

Plan Supporters:

Plan supporters include all donors who make financial contributions individually and/or as a group, company or organisation.  Supporters also include others who donate their time, public standing, expertise and enthusiasm to further our work.  To ensure that we do not put children at risk through contact with supporters, we have the following safeguards in place:

  1. We retain the right to turn down requests to support Plan at our discretion.
  2. We require supporters visiting communities, and who will have direct or indirect contact with children, to obtain Garda Vetting – we consider only history or convictions that could impact on the safety and wellbeing of children or others.
  3. We screen all communications from sponsors to sponsored children for any inappropriate, written or visual material and contact details.  This is to protect both sponsor and child from unregulated and possibly inappropriate contact.  To ensure this we use the medium of reference numbers for both parties.  Contact details may be exchanged when children leave the sponsorship programme ONLY IF the child, his /her parents and the sponsor all agree.  In this case child and data protection issues become the responsibility of the parents and the sponsor.
  4. Zero tolerance on unsupervised direct/indirect contact (such contact may include but is not limited to visits and any form of communication via social media, emails, letters etc) that is intended to establish personal relationships with any child associated with Plan.

Visits to Programme Areas:

Plan Ireland encourages supporters to visit communities in which we work so that they can see first hand some of the projects that we are involved in.  It is the responsibility of the CPFP to advise supporters of visit procedures, including child protection measures.

All visits must be arranged through the Plan Ireland office.  Plan Ireland requires four months notice before a potential visit so that we can make necessary arrangements.

  1. Each visitor must obtain Garda Vetting before a visit can be authorised.
  2. All visitors must sign a statement to confirm that they understand our visit policy and will abide by the guidelines set out.
  3. Each visitor must provide us with a copy of their passport.
  4. Plan staff must be present throughout each visit to a sponsored child.
  5. Children must not be invited or taken away from their communities.
  6. Plan strongly discourages any invitation by supporters for children to visit their own country.
  7. Sponsors and sponsored families must not exchange contact details (this includes email, phone numbers, social media contacts, address, webcam, skype etc) during visits.  It is important that we have one channel of communication from sponsor to child and vice versa in order to protect both parties.
  8. All visits are monitored  and reports are sent by Plan staff to Plan Ireland after each visit takes place
  9. A supporter may only visit a sponsored child or community once in any given year except in exceptional circumstances which the CPFP and CEO must be made aware of.

Working directly with children:

Child participation is an inherent part of Plan’s work.  Plan Ireland staff members,  volunteers and associates may occasionally work directly with children in Ireland and overseas. In anticipation of this the following measures are in place:

  1. Candidates for this work are subject to enhanced back ground checks
  2. Candidates must be conversant with the Child Protection Policy for Direct Contact with Children.
  3. Parental consent will be required for all children involved in a Plan activity.  This consent will be documented and filed.
  4. Children will be accompanied by a Plan Staff member or Plan volunteer at all times.
  5. If accommodation is required it will be appropriate to the age and gender of the children and separate to the adults.

 

Identifying Risk & taking action:

It is everyone’s responsibility to report any potential or actual risk to a child’s wellbeing and safety. An  incident report form should be used to record any abuse, attempted abuse or suspected abuse of a young person and passed to the CPFP.  The CPFP will follow up with the CEO, the local Plan office and relevant external bodies.  All actions taken in relation to the individual case must be adequately documented to reflect the rights of the child and of the abuser/suspected abuser and securely stored. If the risk is identified in Ireland, the Children First Guidelines (of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs) will be followed. If the risk is identified in another country, any local guidelines will be followed under the direction of the local Plan office.

Plan reserves the right to bring a sponsorship or association to a close at any time where a risk to children is identified.  In such incidents we will write to the individual advising them of the decision.  All related communications and decisions will be recorded.

Where a staff member or board member, intern or volunteer is considered to be a risk in any way to children, the circumstances will be considered by the CEO and / or the relevant board member.  The situation will be handled in accordance with our code of conduct and disciplinary procedures.