Tulsa, the new Child and Family Agency

Tusla (, the new Child and Family Agency was officially launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. on Thursday 30 January 2014. The new State agency, comprises the former HSE Children and Family Service, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board and a number of other children’s services.

All child protection concerns or reports should be reported to the Child and Family Agency local social work duty service in the area where the child lives. Further information can be found here - Tulsa - New Child and Family Agency Tusla - Child and Family Agency.doc (0.03 MB, MS Word) 

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Lighting a Fire

Friday 19 April 2013
National Gallery of Ireland
10:00am -14:00pm

Waterford Youth Arts. Photo: Derek Speirs

Waterford Youth Arts. Photo: Derek Speirs

The conference is organised in response to the Arts In Education Charter document from the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills. Through the innovative programmes of Ireland’s national cultural institutions, more than 225,000 people directly participate in the making and sharing of arts, culture and heritage every year - in addition to passive audiences and visitors. The members of the Education, Community and Outreach Committee of the Council of National Cultural Institutions invite members of the arts-in-education community to discuss the relationship between arts, culture and education in Ireland’s schools. We know from experience the importance of a dialogue between theories of pedagogy and artistic expression as well as having a continual curiosity on how to use these to make the arts live more vividly in everyone’s experience.

During this gathering, we aim to illustrate and celebrate the initiative of the Arts In Education Charter by hosting examples of best practice from around the country and exploring a vision of the role of the arts in education in Ireland. How has Ireland responded to these demands? Does our arts education fairly reflect the latest research? How can Ireland’s cultural institutions build on the ambitions of the Arts In Education Charter? What have we learnt from the work of these institutions over their many years of practice?

The Lighting A Fire conference will address these questions and others in a one-day, interactive gathering of practitioners and students along with arts, culture and educational leaders to provide specific, practical suggestions as part of a yearly report to the Ministers.

To register, click here or call the National Concert Hall call centre (opening hours 10am-6pm, Monday - Saturday) at 01 417 0000.

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Arts Council publishes a review of theatrical presentations of curriculum plays

A review of theatrical presentations of curriculum plays for second-level school audiences was conducted on the Arts Council’s behalf between February and June 2012. This document comprises a 56-page report on the findings and recommendations of the review process; and associated appendices (50 pages). Contents page and appendices listing are interactive, for ease of access. The report is available to download here.

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Launch of a public consultation on improving the lives of children and young people

July 2012

Frances Fitzgerald TD,  Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched a public consultation on improving the lives of children and young people on Monday, 11 June 2012. Consultation forms can be completed online or in hard copy. The closing date for the consultation is Friday, 6 July 2012. The consultation will inform the development of all key policies and strategies within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs over the next five years. For further information and details on how to make a submission please see:

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Niamh Sharkey announced as Laureate na nÓg

President Michael D. Higgins announced author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey as Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature, presenting her with the Laureate na nÓg medal at a special event at the Arts Council.

Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The honour was been established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative life.

Niamh Sharkey is an author and illustrator of children's picture books, which have been translated into over twenty languages. Her books have won numerous awards including the prestigious Mother Goose Award and the Bisto Book of the Year Award. Niamh is the creator and associate producer of The Happy Hugglemonsters, a 52 episode pre-school animation series, based on her book The Hugglewugs, which will air on Disney Junior in over 150 countries in 2012.

Speaking about her appointment Niamh Sharkey said: "It is a great honour to be chosen as the next Laureate na nÓg. I am a picturebook maker so my focus as Laureate will certainly be visual as well as literary. I am going to get to do even more of what I love most - promoting quality children's literature and encouraging children to read, write and draw. I have lots of ideas that I hope will inspire creativity in children of all ages. I'm very excited and can't wait to get started."

Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said: "The position of Laureate na nÓg highlights the value of literature and the arts for children and young people. The Arts Council is delighted to support this important role, which enables Ireland’s young citizens to experience the joy of literature and illustration from the youngest age."

Mags Walsh, Director of Children’s Books Ireland said: "In the two years since its establishment, the position of Laureate na nÓg has been able to highlight and celebrate the incredible talent and passion which exists in the Irish children’s books community. By bringing national and international attention to Irish children’s books, Laureate na nÓg has demonstrated the central role that books can play in every Irish childhood."

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Review of theatrical presentations of prescribed curriculum plays for second-level school audiences in Ireland (March 2012)

March 2012

The Arts Council has commissioned a review of theatrical presentations of prescribed curriculum plays for second-level school audiences. Submissions are invited from interested parties to inform the review process. The review will examine current models of practice and potential ways the Arts Council might continue to support students’ theatrical engagement with plays on their school curriculum.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 12 noon.

Contact information is included in the discussion paper and submission form below.

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Children First: national guidance for the protection and welfare of children 2011

October 2011

This briefing note has been prepared to highlight the key changes contained in Children First 2011, relative to the original 1999 publication.

It is not a comprehensive guide to Children First 2011 which should be read in its entirety.

Children First 2011 is a clearer and more concise document, with some significant changes since the previous guidelines. Children First was first published in 1999. The principle and substance of this document (2011) are unchanged. The Guidance has been updated to reflect new policy, legislation and organisation - the establishment of the HSE, HIQA, and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It incorporates lessons from investigations, reviews and inspections over the past decade. This document reflects the growing awareness of the impact of ongoing neglect on children in its guidance. It also includes bullying as a feature of abuse.


In the Foreword, Minister Fitzgerald states: "We intend to enact legislation so that all people who are working with children will have a statutory duty to comply with the Children First: national guidance."  As of now Children First is not yet on a statutory basis, pending the publication and enactment of new legislation.

Definitions of child abuse

The list of what constitutes physical abuse of a child has been expanded to include slapping, observing violence and "allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child."

There is express reference to and acknowledgement of the harm caused to children by exposure to domestic violence, which is included in the definition of emotional abuse. Exposure to inappropriate or abusive material through new technology is also included for the first time.

There have been two additions to the signs and symptoms of neglect as follows:

  • inattention to basic hygiene and
  • failure to provide adequate care for the child’s developmental problems

Responsibilities of organisations

Consistent with the principles of Children First, every organisation, both public and private, that is providing services for children or that is in regular direct contact with children should:

  • ensure best practice in the recruitment of staff or volunteers, which includes Garda vetting, taking up of references, good HR practices in interviewing, induction training, probation and ongoing supervision and management;
  • ensure that staff members or volunteers are aware of how to recognise signs of child abuse or neglect.

Chapter 5 covers the procedures for assessment and management of child protection and welfare concerns and has a much clearer structure of guidance for HSE professionals.

Chapter 10 covers training and there is a new section recommending interagency training on child protection and welfare.

Appendix 8: Guidance for developing local child protection and welfare procedures. This section notes the requirement for consistency and notes that the definitions, reporting procedures and guidance on confidentiality (Chapter 2 and 3) should not be changed or adapted in any way.

Garda vetting

The need for all those working with children to be vetted, the role of the Garda Vetting Unit and the intention to put this on a statutory basis, by establishing a National Vetting Bureau, is also included in the revised Children First. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence published the National Vetting Bureau Bill 2011 on July 27th 2011 which was then circulated for consultation and submissions invited from interested parties. It is anticipated that the final legislation will be published at the end of October 2011.

Organisations are reminded that best practice in the recruitment of staff or volunteers remains taking up of references, good HR practices in interviewing, induction training, probation and ongoing supervision and management, as well as Garda vetting.

Accessing Children First 2011

Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2011) Children First: national guidance for the protection and welfare for children is available to download from

Printed copies are currently available from the Government Publications Office, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2, at a cost of €5.

Arts organisations working with children and young people are advised to access the document, read it thoroughly and incorporate changes into their own policies and procedures, as appropriate.

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Encountering the Arts Conference November 2010

A report written by Imelda Barnard on Encountering the Arts a one-day conference held at IMMA last November is now available here.  The conference was the third in a series of events held during 2010 which aimed to interrogate the current relationship, and explore possible synergies, between the arts and education; and respond to the recommendations of Points of Alignment (Arts Council: 2008). Previous events included Creating Conversations (2.88 MB, Adobe PDF) organised by the Department of Arts Education and Physical Education at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick (January 2010).

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EU report on arts and education (01 February 2011)

European Agenda on Culture:  In June 2010, the Open Method Working Group on 'developing synergies with education, especially arts education' published its Final Report.  The group addressed questions on artistic and cultural education (including trans-disciplinarity, heritage education and media literacy), teachers, artists and other culture professionals training needs, partnerships with the civil society and mediator's roles, and the evaluation of the effects of artistic and cultural education.  The Final Report contains recommendations addressed to both European and national levels, a compilation of case-studies on which the recommendations are based as well as proposals for future work.  The Report will feed into discussions by the Cultural Affairs Committee of the future Council Workplan on Culture for 2011 onwards.

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Child protection and welfare in the arts sector: two new resources published on the website (01 April 2010)

Two new resources are available on our website for arts organisations working with children and young people.

Both resources have been designed as templates that can be adapted by arts organisations for their own use.

Child Protection Policy and Procedures - Information for Children is designed as a leaflet that can be given to children and young people. It is intended to provide them with a brief guide to the measures that are in place in their arts organisation to ensure their safety and welfare. Information covered includes code of behaviour, making a complaint and how they can expect to be treated.

Child Protection Policy and Procedures - Information for Parents/Guardians provides an outline for parents/guardians on the policies and procedures that are in place in an arts organisation attended by their child. It includes guidance on recruitment procedures, how the organisation will communicate with the parents in the event of a concern regarding their child and lists points on how parents can cooperate with them to ensure the safety and welfare of their child.

These resources were drawn up in consultation with arts organisations who work with children and young people. Their assistance and expertise is appreciated.

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Major philanthropic gift for music announced (July 2009)

Music Network is delighted to announce a major philanthropic gift to be invested in music education in Ireland. €5 million has been donated by U2 and a further €2 million pledged by The Ireland funds to allow a national system of music education provision to be rolled out between 2010 and 2015.

With funding from the Arts Council, Music Network has over the last number of years been working to raise awareness of the value of music education, and of the need for enhanced provision through a national system of local music education services. A model developed by Music Network (as recommended in the Music Network report A National System of Local Music Education Services-Report of a Feasibility Study 2003) set out to make music education available to all children of the state irrespective of their geographical location and their social and economic circumstances. The model is widely agreed to be a workable and cost efficient solution.

"This gift allows us to implement a planned, integrated approach to music education at a national level so that the potential and talent of our young people can be developed. The roll-out of our model will make an important contribution to music in Ireland, and to educational provision generally," Deirdre McCrea Music Network CEO explains.

The Edge, speaking on behalf of U2, says, "Being around music at a young age was important for us and we were lucky to have it at school. We had been looking for some time for a way to get involved in an initiative in music education in Ireland. After talking to various people in Ireland about what to do, we came to the conclusion that the Music Network scheme is really well thought out and that we, in partnership with the Ireland Funds, should just get behind it."

Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chair of The American Ireland Fund says, "Our goal is to stimulate philanthropy in Ireland and the scheme falls under two of our funding priorities-education and culture. We are thrilled to be part of a project, which will bring the Music Network Scheme nationwide as it is a proven success and has wide-ranging support from Government as well as the music education establishment. We believe that the programme will make a huge contribution to music education in Ireland."

The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD, says, "I'm delighted that U2 and The Ireland Funds have agreed to join us as partners in progressing the music agenda in Ireland. We recognised the gaps in music education in 2001 when a feasibility study was commissioned to examine how a national system of publicly supported local music schools might be provided. The pilot schemes which Government has funded since 2004 will now provide the model to roll the scheme out nationally. We are very grateful for the support of U2 and The Ireland Funds for the programme over the next six years. It has the potential to create a true legacy for music education in Ireland."

Music Network will administer the scheme, which will be rolled out on a phased basis, in a number of new locations each year, beginning in 2010 and including all musical genres. Involvement in the scheme will be offered on the basis of competitive tender. Local interests (for example one or more local VECs and/or local authorities, local private music schools, parents groups etc.) will be invited to bid for a three-year subsidy to provide for the costs of teachers and local administration; they must show how they will generate matching resources locally, and how they will plan to make the scheme sustainable in the longer term.

For further information please visit

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Additional ethical practice resources for artists and arts organisations working with children and young people (March 2009)

Building on Guidelines for the protection and welfare of children and young people in the arts sector, we are pleased to introduce two new resources for artists and arts organisations working with children and young people. The resources are in response to requests from the arts sector. They are:

Guidelines for taking and using images of children and young people in the arts sector
The guidelines aim to provide support and guidance to arts organisations and artists working as arts practitioners, facilitators or tutors making, recording and using images of children and young people. Items such as informed consent, the legal context, privacy and publishing images on websites are covered in the resource.

Solo practitioner code of practice for working with children and young people
The code of practice aims to provide support and guidance to artists working with children and young people in a solo capacity as practitioners, facilitators or tutors. It is based on, and should be read in conjunction with established other good practice guidelines.

Both resources were developed in consultation with individual artists, arts organisations and the Health Service Executive Keeping Safe Information and Advice Persons.  We are very grateful for their assistance and expertise in developing the new resources

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Arts Council publishes new resource document, Arts, Education and Other Learning Settings: A Research Digest (09 January 2009)

The document presents a wide range of research, primarily focusing on the area of arts-in-education but also includes information on work in other contexts such as arts in health, arts in youth work and arts in communities. The digest spans an almost thirty-year timeframe from 1979 to 2007.

For further information see,b1SpHS2j,w.

The document is available to download at

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Enchanted Garden1
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Thaumotrope, performers: Jana Zitzmann, Anna Rosenfelder, Frantisek Sic (Photo: Jana Zitzmann)

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