In recognition of the need to develop training programmes and materials compliant with “Safeguarding Children” standards and guidance for the Catholic Church in Ireland, the National Board, through the National Office commissioned a review and evaluation of all existing training programmes used with Church personnel, volunteers and parishioners.
The aim of the review was to identify the benefits of the existing programmes and whether any of them could meet the terms of the Standards identified in “Safeguarding Children”.
The programmes reviewed by Helen Buckley from Trinity College, Dublin included:
- Volunteer Development Association (VDA) Training Programme used by HSE Advice and Information Officers who provide training for voluntary and community organisations in the Republic.
- The Inter-diocesan Training Programme, which is adapted from the VDA programme and delivered by a group of trainers employed by the programme.
- A programme devised by the Diocese of Down and Connor, which consists of information sessions for parishioners.
Click on link for full details of the review are detailed in Helen Buckley’s report.
In summary the findings indicate many positive aspects of the current training programmes, however, they also indicate deficits, with significant revisions required for the all existing programmes and providers of training to fulfill, to ensure they meet the criteria required to deliver on the standards set out in “Safeguarding Children.
In addition, from the national Board’s perspective, the absence of a single set of training materials, delivered consistently across Dioceses, Congregations and Missionary Institutes, undermines one of the fundamental aims of the Board’s intention, which is to achieve a uniform standard of best practice in safeguarding children.
In order to realize this aim, the Board needs to be confidant that the training to support “Safeguarding Children” is coherent, effective and delivered consistently across all parts of the Church.
In order to do this, Helen Buckley recommends the development of a new suite of training programmes, to be delivered to staff and volunteers at different levels in church organisations. She suggests that safeguarding training should not be an expensive business and economies can be achieved by developing programmes that are coordinated and accredited centrally. She advocates central co-ordination and oversight of training alongside other advisory functions in relation to safeguarding policies and believes this naturally fits with the functions of the National Office.
In light of the findings of Dr Buckley’s review, and in response to increasing demand for training by National Office staff, a group of trainers have come together with Teresa Devlin and Colette Stevenson to develop tailored training modules. To date 7 modules have been developed which can act as stand alone and be delivered to a range of audiences who hold roles in the safeguarding structure of Dioceses and Religious Orders; or can be combined and modified into one day raining events. The modules to date include:
- What is Safeguarding
- Safeguarding Children, the 7 Standards
- Roles and Responsibilities
- What is Child Abuse
- Working with Children
- The Designated Officer
- The Safeguarding Representative
Other modules are planned and these relate to
- assessing and managing risk;
- recording and data protection
An Advisory body of external experts will review the materials to ensure they are compliant with the legislation in both jurisdictions and that they are fit for purpose.
Discussions have taken place with HSE and HSC who are supportive of the plans being put in place in relation to Church specific training materials. The HSE will continue, through their Information and Advice Officers to provide input as appropriate in the delivery of the new materials, particularly around reporting allegations.
Next steps will be to pilot the materials, and this will take place between end of October and January 2011. There will then be a further edit, based on experience of using the materials before final drafts are available for wider use.
Consideration is also being given to developing processes to quality assure delivery of training. Further details on this will be available later this year.