Child & Family Services

 

Does RIA have a Child Protection Policy?

Yes, RIA’s Child Protection Policy is a key part of RIA's responsibilities. Our policy is adapted from the 'Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children' which is issued by the Department of Health and Children.

The principal aim of our policy is the minimisation of risk to children and vulnerable adults residing in RIA accommodation centres. The policy defines various types of child abuse and outlines procedures to follow in the event of such suspected abuse.  Management of accommodation and reception centres are obliged to ensure that all staff working in the centre are aware of and adhere to the policy.

As well as the policy itself, the HSE has provided ‘Keeping Safe’ child protection training to designated officers in RIA and to relevant  staff members in asylum centres.  Click here to see the RIA policy:

Revised Child Protection & Welfare Policy for Accommodation Centres (PDF - 256KB)

Are all staff in the Centres subject to Garda Vetting?

Yes, it was agreed with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) based in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, that RIA would act as the central conduit for all communications between the GVCU and RIA accommodation and reception centres, of which there are (in December, 2010) 46 involving 24 different contractors.  All RIA contractors and their designated contact person have been vetted.  Vetting is an ongoing process and all contractors are required to submit Garda Vetting Forms for all newly appointed staff members.

How does the vetting process actually work in respect of asylum accommodation centres?

The first point to be understood is that all asylum accommodation centres are operated by private companies under contract to RIA.  The second point is that a distinction needs to be drawn between "vetting" and "clearing".  "Vetting" is the process by which the Garda Síochána conducts an examination of an individual's record in relation to court convictions and pending prosecutions and, with the person's permission, conveys this information to an authorised person.  "Clearing" is the process by which an employer and/or a responsible authority makes a decision, based on the result of the Garda vetting process, as to whether to employ, or continue to employ - possibly with restrictions - the individual concerned.

All RIA contractors and their designated contact person(s) have been vetted and cleared by RIA itself. In respect of all other staff in centres, although the vetting process is conducted through RIA, the 'clearing' of employees is a matter for the contractors (who, after all, are their employers) and their designated contact persons.

RIA's largest contractor, Bridgestock Ltd., carried out a successful pilot vetting programme for its staff, all of whom have now been vetted.  This formed the basis of a training programme organised by RIA, finishing in March 2010, for all other contractors and their designated contact persons, all of whom have now been trained in the Garda Vetting procedure.  This, in turn, is facilitating the vetting of all staff employed in centres contracted to RIA.  This process is ongoing.  Contractors are required to submit Garda Vetting Forms to RIA for all newly appointed staff members.

It should be noted that, aside from those relating to contractors and designated persons, RIA does not retain any records on centre employees in relation to Garda Vetting other than details of when the relevant vetting forms were received in RIA, sent to GCVU, returned by GCVU and submitted to the relevant designated contact person in the centre concerned.

Have any centre staff been let go or have restrictions placed upon them arising from the vetting process?

The responsibility for the employment of staff lies with the private contractor concerned. As already explained, the contractor has undergone relevant training in the Garda Vetting process and s/he must take into account any disclosures that arise from the vetting process in deciding whether to employ or continue to employ - possibly with restrictions - the individual concerned, having regard to the absolute contractual obligation to RIA to maintain a safe living environment for asylum seekers.  It would be invidious to comment on the operation of a vetting process in relation to individuals in any employment situation but RIA can say that it is satisfied with the present operation of the Garda vetting process.

Is RIA responsible for unaccompanied minors?

No. The Child and Family Agency (TUSLA)  is statutorily responsible for Separated Children Seeking Asylum/ Unaccompanied Minors.

What happens to the unaccompanied minors when they reach 18 years of age?

Those who reach 18 years of age – referred to as ‘aged out’ minors – are transferred at the request of TUSLA, from TUALA care accommodation to RIA accommodation.  Aged out minors deemed by TUSLA as continuing to be vulnerable can, at its discretion, remain within its care. Generally, a transfer from TUSLA  care to RIA accommodation will not take place in the middle of an academic school year. The policy agreed between RIA and the TUSLA  in relation to the accommodation of 'aged out' minors is below.

Accommodation of Aged Out Minors in RIA Accommodation Centres (July 2010) (PDF - 14KB)

Does RIA link with other State Providers?

The Direct Provision system cannot operate at all without the assistance and cooperation of other State providers, particularly in the spheres of health, social assistance and education.  Aside from the direct secondment of staff to RIA, we have links with other State providers on an ongoing basis.  Regional Interagency meetings take place on a quarterly basis.  The purpose of these meetings is to provide a forum where RIA, Centre Managers and Staff, and Statutory Agencies dealing with RIA clients seek to identify and resolve issues of common concern.  These meetings also enhance and develop communication systems and the sharing of information between all agencies.