HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE
TERMS OF REFERENCE
(As agreed by the Committee on 22 May 2002)
To inquire into the arrangements in place in Northern Ireland to protect infants, children and young people under the age of 18 from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect; and to determine if child protection services are meeting the welfare needs of children and protecting them from significant harm.
Regard will be paid to the:
- Role and responsibilities of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, other relevant Departments, and statutory and voluntary agencies, including Child Protection Committees and Child Protection panels;
- Role of the Commissioner for Children;
- Role and use of child protection register;
- Legislative context within which child protection services operate;
- Resources available for those services; and
- Current guidance.
In addressing the terms of reference, the Inquiry will examine the effectiveness of current arrangements and the extent to which those arrangements ensure compliance with statutory requirements and meet the needs of corporate governance. Particular regard will be paid to:
- Case recording, professional judgement, and the assessment and analysis of information;
- Communication and liaison between involved parties (e.g. social worker, health visitor, GP and police) and between agencies;
- Linkages with children, parents/carers and local communities and their access to information;
- Workforce issues, with reference to training, supervision and pressures on staff; and
- Lessons learnt from relevant previous case management reviews/inquiries/ reports into child protection.
The Inquiry will consider the quality of and resources allocated to child protection services in Northern Ireland with reference to the provision of similar services in Great Britain and other selected countries.
The Committee will report to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Northern Ireland Assembly on the Inquiry's findings and conclusions, and make recommendations for improvements as necessary.