Child Protection & Welfare Policy Statement
Drumcondra AFC is committed to ensuring that all necessary steps will be taken to protect and safeguard the welfare of children who participate in football. This Policy document clearly demonstrates the importance placed by Drumcondra AFC on the protection and safety of children who participate in football.
· The appointed child protection officer who is employed for the purpose of performing child welfare and protection and safeguarding within the FAI is Trevor Borley
· Drumcondra AFC have appointed Jenny Fitzpatrick as our Children’s Officer and she can be contacted at 085 870 5954 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children are defined in Irish Law as being any person under 18 years of age.
All children who participate in football should be able to do so in a safe and enjoyable environment. While doing so they should be protected from any form of abuse be it physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or bullying. The responsibility for protecting children lies with all adults involved in this club and in football in general. Drumcondra AFC recognises and accepts responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children.
These clear policies, practices and procedures in addition to relevant training programmes will ensure that everybody in Drumcondra AFC knows exactly what is expected of them in relation to protecting children and young people within football.
It is vital that children who participate in Drumcondra AFC activities are able to do so in a safe, enjoyable and quality environment.
In pursuit of this goal Drumcondra AFC will:
· Advise all members of Drumcondra AFC (coaches, players, parents and spectators) of their responsibilities in relation to the welfare and protection of children and young people who participate in football.
· Operate within the recommended Football Association of Ireland codes of conduct and best practice guidelines.
· Appoint a Club Children‟s Officer in line with Football Association of Ireland requirements.
· Provide a child protection and welfare module in staff induction and development programmes
The aims of Drumcondra AFC Child Protection Policy are:
· To develop a positive and pro-active position in order to best protect all children who participate in football, in order for them to do so in a safe and enjoyable environment.
· To provide appropriate guidance and advice to all club members (players, coaches, volunteers, spectators and parents) in matters pertaining to child welfare and protection.
· To demonstrate best practice in the area of child welfare and protection.
· To promote ethics and best practice standards throughout football.
The key principles underpinning this Policy are that:
The welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration.
All children have a right to be protected from abuse of any kind regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual identity.
All suspicions and allegations of abuse/poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. It is essential that we work in partnership with children and their parents/carers. The HSE has a statutory responsibility to safeguard and protect the welfare of children and Drumcondra AFC is committed to cooperating fully with them in accordance with procedures as outlined in “Children First” National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.
Drumcondra AFC will cooperate fully with the Football Association of Ireland National Children‟s Officer, Gardai and HSE in any investigation of child abuse in football.
The Football Association of Ireland‟s regulations in regard to child welfare and protection are defined in the rulebook as:
THE PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN
(a) In line with legislation and Government Guidelines (The Child Care Act 1991 and the Protection for Persons Reporting Abuse Act 1998) in relation to child protection and welfare, it is mandatory that all participants, clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies shall be bound by the FAI recommended codes of conduct and best practice guidelines
(b) Any act, statement, conduct or other matter which harms a child or children, or poses or may pose a risk of harm to a child or children, shall constitute behaviour which is improper and brings the game into disrepute.
(c) Breaches shall become a disciplinary offence. Any member issued with a ban from football activity shall have their name notified to all League Secretaries for onward dissemination to all Club Secretaries. The notification shall state the name of the individual and the fact a ban has been issued.
(d) Any participant who is the subject of a Statutory Inquiry in relation to any child welfare concern must stand down from all club activities pending the outcome of that inquiry and any subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings.
(e) Any member convicted of an offence by the Irish Courts or Courts of any other jurisdiction involving the welfare of children shall be automatically banned from membership of the Association. For the avoidance of doubt no disciplinary or other hearing shall be necessary in order to implement this automatic ban.
PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN
1. All participants, clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies shall be bound by the FAI rules, codes of conduct and guidelines governing the protection and welfare of children, and breaches of such rules, codes and guidelines shall be subject to disciplinary sanction.
2. The disciplinary body may impose any sanction it deems appropriate.
3. Any act, statement, conduct or other matter which harms a child or children, or poses or may pose a risk of harm to a child or children, shall constitute behaviour which is improper and brings the game into disrepute.
4. Any participant who is the subject of a statutory inquiry in relation to any child welfare concern must stand down from all club activities pending the outcome of that inquiry and any subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings.
Drumcondra AFC through confirming this policy document has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that children can participate in all football activities with their safety and welfare being of paramount importance.
It is essential that this document represents a process of continual improvement in the area of child protection and welfare in football.
It is the responsibility of all adults involved in football to actively promote safe and best practice standards whilst being ever vigilant and aware of their responsibilities to the children in their care.
Procedure for dealing with Child Abuse Concerns or Allegations
It is important to note that the investigation of suspected child abuse is the responsibility of the Statutory Authorities (Gardai, HSE) and should not be undertaken by Children’s Officers or any other Club/League. All allegations of child abuse must be referred to the Statutory Authorities.
When an allegation is received it should be assessed promptly and carefully. It will be necessary to decide whether a formal report should be made to the HSE and this decision should be based on reasonable grounds for concern. In accordance with requirements of Children First all concerns with relation to suspected child abuse will be passed on to the relevant statutory authorities.
The following examples would constitute reasonable grounds for concern:
(i) a specific indication from a child that (s)he was abused;
(ii) a statement from a person who witnessed abuse;
(iii) an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse;
(iv) a symptom which may not in itself be totally consistent with abuse, but which is support by corroborative evidence of deliberate harm or negligence;
(v) consistent signs of neglect over a period of time.
Ref. Children First 2011
Therefore in practice, concerns will be passed on by the Clubs designated person to the statutory authorities if we receive:
(ii) a specific indication from a child that (s)he was abused;
(iii) a statement from a person who witnessed abuse;
or have evidence in relation to:
(iii) an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse;
(iv) a symptom which may not in itself be totally consistent with abuse, but which is support by corroborative evidence of deliberate harm or negligence;
(iv) consistent signs of neglect over a period of time.
Any allegation of abuse must in the first instance be brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Club. Should the Chairperson be unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist s/he can informally consult with the local HSE duty social worker. S/he will be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report.
Coaches/volunteers may be subjected to erroneous or malicious allegations. Therefore, any allegation of abuse should be dealt with sensitively and appropriate support should be provided for staff/volunteers including counselling where necessary.
Should Drumcondra AFC become aware of an allegation of abuse of a child or children by a coach/volunteer during the execution of that coaches/volunteers duties, the Chairman will privately inform the coach/volunteer of the following:
· the fact that the allegation has been made against him/her;
· the nature of the allegation.
The coach/volunteer should be afforded an opportunity to respond. The Chairman will note the response and pass on this information when making the formal report to the HSE.
The report to the HSE should contain observations, dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information.
In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Chairperson is unable to contact a duty social worker, the Gardai shall be contacted.
Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending intervention by the Statutory Authorities
Our Chairperson, if reporting suspected or actual child abuse to the Statutory Authorities will first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine any statutory investigation.
It should be noted that should a formal notification be made, we are not accusing anyone of child abuse, rather we are passing on concerns for investigation by the appropriate statutory authorities in keeping with the principle that “the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration”.
All subsequent actions following an allegation of abuse against a coach/volunteer will be taken in consultation with the HSE and An Garda Síochána. An immediate meeting will be sought with these two agencies for this purpose. The Football Association of Ireland National Children‟s Officer is also available to provide support and advice.
Under Football Association of Ireland rules, any coach/volunteer/manager who is the subject of a statutory investigation into alleged child abuse, is required to stand down from all football activities until the investigation is completed. Therefore the FAI National Children’s Officer must be informed immediately of any formal notification to the Statutory Authorities.
When a person is asked to stand down it should be made clear that it is only a precautionary measure in keeping with standard procedures/guidelines and will not prejudice any later disciplinary proceedings.
The coach/volunteer concerned should be advised that the procedures being undertaken are in accordance with statutory requirements. He or she should be treated with respect and fairness, and also be assured that all information will be dealt with in a sensitive and confidential manner.
The Club will carefully consider the outcome of the statutory investigation and will then assess if there are any outstanding disciplinary issues in relation to their internal rules or infringements of the Football Association of Ireland best practice guidelines. It must be remembered that the fact that the alleged abuser has not been prosecuted or been found guilty does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.
Internal Club disciplinary proceedings can only be initiated after the Statutory Authorities have completed theirs.
Club Disciplinary, Complaints and Appeals Procedure
While many concerns can be dealt with in an informal manner to the satisfaction of all concerned, it is advisable that detailed records are maintained in respect of all complaints and that all parties are advised of the formal complaints and appeals procedure. All reasonable efforts to resolve matters should be exhausted at local level before accessing the appeals procedure.
Any person who has a complaint or concern should bring it to the attention of the Chairperson under the relevant rules of the body concerned.
The complaint or concern should be in writing and should outline all relevant details and other parties involved in line with procedure.
The complaint or concern should then be brought to the attention of the appropriate person in line with club rules who will convene the disciplinary committee/panel unless the complaint or concern relates to a child abuse matter or criminal offence that meets criteria for formal reporting to the statutory authorities.
The disciplinary committee/panel should furnish any participant with details of the complaint being made against them and afford them the opportunity of providing a response either verbally or in writing. In the event of a complaint against a child, the parents/guardians should be informed and advised of the process.
The disciplinary committee/panel should then hear the case of all parties involved and decide if a rule or regulation has been infringed.
The disciplinary committee/panel should then inform in writing those involved of their decision and any sanctions if any that are to be imposed. This notification should be in writing, setting out the reasons for the sanction. (Written notification should be forwarded to parents if the proceedings involve a participant under eighteen years of age)
Any party unhappy with the findings of the disciplinary committee/panel can appeal the decision in writing to their respective superior body as per rules. Clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies should review their rules to ensure they contain a provision that facilitates an appeals procedure in this respect.
The appeal body should then rehear the case and all evidence, should be considered. The appeals body should have the power to uphold or reject the appeal or to vary, alter or set aside any sanction imposed by the disciplinary committee/panel.
Written confidential records in relation to disciplinary proceedings should be safely and confidentially kept on file.
Anonymous complaints can be difficult to deal with, however they cannot be ignored. All complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour/poor practice should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Club. In all cases the safety and welfare of the child/children is paramount.
All complaints should be checked out and handled in a confidential manner. It is important to record all such complaints and actions taken. Specific advice on dealing with anonymous complaints can be got from your local HSE duty social worker or alternatively the Football Association of Ireland National Children’s Officer.
Rumours should not be allowed hang in the air. Any rumour/s relating to inappropriate behaviour/s circulating in the club should be brought to the attention to the Chairperson and checked out promptly. All ensuing information should be handled confidentially and with sensitivity.
Confidentiality is about managing information in a respectful, professional and purposeful manner. It is important that the rights of both the child and the person about whom the complaint has been made are protected. Therefore, appropriate confidentiality will be maintained in respect of all issues and people involved in concerns about the welfare of a child or bad practice within the club.
The following points will be borne in mind:
· A guarantee of confidentiality or undertakings regarding secrecy cannot be given, as the welfare of the child will supersede all other considerations
· All information should be treated in a careful and sensitive manner and should only be discussed with those who need to know
· Information will be conveyed to the parents/guardians of a child about whom there are concerns in a sensitive way. Giving information to others on a “need to know” basis for the protection of a child is not a breach of confidentiality
Recruitment Policy Ref Our Duty to Care
Safe practice starts with safe recruitment procedures and involves:
1. Always applying thorough selection procedures, no matter who the applicant happens to be
2. Judging the suitability of applicants in relation to a broad range of matters
3. Taking all reasonable steps to eliminate people who are not suitable for working with children
4. Providing training.
This section outlines an approach to safe recruitment and selection practices.
(i) Clear definition of the role of volunteers: This means clarifying and agreeing expectations regarding the role of a new volunteer, and involves identifying the minimum level of personal qualities and skills required to fill the post.
(ii) Application Form: An application form, with a clear job description. The form should be designed, as far as possible, to collect all relevant information about the applicant, including past experience of working with children.
(iii) Interview: A meeting with all new applicants should be conducted with at least two representatives of the club. The committee should explore the information stated on the application form and assess the applicant’s suitability for the post. The information supplied by the applicant and any other information supplied on their behalf should only be seen by persons directly involved in the recruitment process.
(iv) Identification: The organisation should ensure that the identity of the applicant is confirmed against some documentation (ID card, driving licence or passport) which gives his or her full name, address together with a signature or photograph. This should be compared with the written application.
Induction and training
When an applicant has been accepted, the following processes should apply:
· Induction: If the applicant is accepted, they will then be required to undertake a safeguarding course and induction. Induction will enable volunteers to get to know the club and their responsibilities in relation to policies and procedures namely the child protection policy.
· Records: details of selection and Garda vetting should be recorded, along with notes on any matters arising during any part of the process.
· Additional training: To maintain quality standards and good practice, training should be provided on an ongoing basis for all volunteers.
● Drumcondra AFC will take all reasonable steps to ensure that coaches, managers and volunteers are suitable to work with children and young people.
1. All coaches, managers and volunteers are required to complete an application/self-declaration form. Applicants are also required to produce valid photo ID.
2. All coaches/volunteers subject to Garda vetting
3. All applicants to be reviewed by the Club Committee
4. Following review all appointments are subject to approval and ratification by the committee of Drumcondra AFC.
5. All approved applicants are required to attend a safeguarding course before appointment to their post.
6. All coaches, managers and volunteers will be subject to a sign up procedure in which they undertake to abide by Drumcondra AFC rules and FAI codes of conduct and good practice. (Appropriate confidentiality will be maintained in regard to all applications)
Once recruited, Drumcondra AFC will make all efforts to support and manage coaches, managers and volunteers ensuring that no person is expected to work alone.
Induction: If the applicant is accepted, they are required to familiarise themselves with the Clubs policies procedures and protocols procedures for dealing with discipline, grievances and allegations, and the organisation’s child protection policy.
· Coaches to get to know the organisation and their role
· Expectations of the Club, Coaches/Children’s Code of Conduct (on website).
· Rules of the Club, coaching philosophy, Team Selection Criteria, Record Keeping Guidelines,
· Safety procedures, safe use of equipment and facilities
Drumcondra AFC Coach, Manager, Volunteer Education & Support Policy
The Committee of Drumcondra AFC are indebted to our coaches, managers and volunteers who give freely of their valuable time in providing a stimulating, challenging, supportive and fun football experience to children and young people in the Club.
The Committee will endeavour to support these coaches, managers and volunteers in their work by providing an environment where all activities are carried out in a safe, fun manner at all times conducted in the spirit of “Fair Play”.
Drumcondra AFC will make all efforts to assist all new volunteers, managers, coaches in whatever way they can.
Drumcondra AFC will provide an induction pack to all new volunteers/coaches which will familiarise them with Club rules, policies and procedures and expected codes of behaviour for children, coaches and parents/spectators.
Specifically in relation to those with no football background, the Committee have introduced a “Buddy” system whereby new members will accompany one of our existing coaches for a period during which they can familiarise themselves with the Club and its members adult and children and introduce them to some basic training routines and practice models.
The Committee of Drumcondra AFC recognise the value of having appropriately qualified personnel in the club, and therefore will endeavour to support any of our coaches in the coach education process.
At no time will any coach, manager, volunteer be expected to work or deal with any problem alone and they will be assured of Committee assistance and support at all times. Also, coaches, managers and volunteers are encouraged to share ideas, expertise and support other club personnel in any way they can.
Drumcondra AFC Safety Policy
All coaches/managers in Drumcondra AFC have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the players with whom they work as far as possible within the limits of their control. Therefore coaches should seek to create a safe and enjoyable environment in which to play and train
In this respect:
· Adequate supervision must be maintained at all times. Best practice advice would advocate adult:child ratios of 2 Leaders to every 16 children (1:8), but no coach, manager or volunteer works alone.
· Regular safety checks should be carried out in relation to premises, training facilities and equipment. Ensure that the FAI Goalpost safety policy is strictly adhered to at all times
· Drumcondra AFC safety rules should be adhered to at all times
· Parents/guardians should be informed of the starting and finishing times of training sessions and matches.
· A first aid kit should be available at all training sessions and matches and injuries should be recorded, with a note of action taken in relation to each one. Never play injured players.
· Parents/Guardians should be notified of injuries/illness which their children incur while participating in any Drumcondra AFC football activity.
· Records of attendance should be maintained
Drumcondra AFC Travelling Guidelines
When travelling with young people coaches/volunteers of Drumcondra AFC should:
· Ensure that there is adequate insurance cover
· Not carry more than the permitted number of passengers
· Ensure the use of safety belts
· Keep to the rules of the road
· Avoid being alone with one player; if with one player you could: put the passenger in the back seat, drop off at central locations, get parental permission for transporting children on a regular basis, and clearly state times of pick off and drop off.
Drumcondra AFC Touching Guidelines
All managers/volunteers of Drumcondra AFC are advised that:
Any necessary physical contact should be in response to the needs of the child and not the adult
It should be in an open environment with the permission and full understanding of the player
It should be determined by the age and developmental stage of the player. You should not anything that a child can do for him/herself
Coaches should not treat injuries out of sight of others. Use a "Two-Deep" (two personnel, or two players) supervision system. Only personnel who are qualified in administering First Aid or treating sports injuries should attempt to treat an injury.
The comfort level and dignity of the player should always be the priority. Example: Only uncover the injured area, or cover private areas of the athlete's body.
Any doubts of a medical nature should be passed on to a suitably qualified medical person.
Coaches should not play injured players.
Comforting/congratulating players is an important part of the relationship between coaches and players.
Guidelines for this type of touch are:
· Limit touching to "safe" areas, such as hand-to-shoulder. It should not involve touching genital area, buttocks, breasts, or mouths.
· Make your intention to congratulate or comfort clear to the player.
· Get permission from the player before embracing them - remember that personnel are in the position of power.
· Respect a players discomfort or rejection of physical contact.
· Be sure that touching occurs only when others are present.
· Avoid unnecessary physical contact and never engage in inappropriate touching
Drumcondra AFC Club Children’s Officer/s
The appointment of Club Children’s Officers is an essential element in the creation of a quality atmosphere in any club. They act as a resource to members with regard to children’s issues and also ensure that children have a voice in the running of the club and can freely talk of their experiences.
Government guidelines advise that a children’s officer should be appointed by all clubs and this should be done in accordance with recommended selection and recruitment procedures. The appointment of this person should be carried out in consultation with juvenile members and their parent/guardians.
The League/Club Children’s Officer should
· Have good communication skills, be approachable and open minded
· Have good knowledge and be familiar with their Child Welfare and Protection Codes and Guidelines Children First 2011
· Have an understanding of relevant child welfare/protection legislation,
· Have undertaken a Garda Vetting application
· Have attended the relevant awareness training on child welfare and protection
· The League/Club Children’s Officer will have the following functions:
· To promote the Code of Ethics & Good Practice
· To influence policy and practice and to prioritise children’s needs
· To ensure that children know how and whom they can report their concerns to within the club. Information disclosed by a child should be dealt with in accordance with the Department of Health and Children’s Guidelines “Children First”
· To encourage the participation of parents/guardians in club activities
· To co-operate with parents to ensure that each child enjoys his/her participation in football
· To act as a resource with regard to best practice in children’s football
· To report regularly to the Club Management Committee
· For the purpose of specific organised events in Clonturk or DCU Sports grounds, the designated child liaison person on site will be an identifiable Drumcondra AFC manager or assistant manager. They will have under gone Garda Vetting and taken appropriate safeguarding training.
Club/League Children’s Officers do not have the responsibility of investigating or validating child protection concerns within the club and have no counselling or therapeutic role. This responsibility lies with the HSE and Gardai.