Children’s Officer

Club Children’s Officers

The Club Children’s Officer should be child centred in focus and should have as his/her primary aim the establishment of a child centred ethos within the club. S/he is the link between the children and the adults in the club. S/he also takes responsibility for monitoring and reporting to the Club Committee on how club policy etc. impacts on children and their Sports Leaders

Given the need to ensure that children are valued within all sporting contexts at least one Children’s Officer, preferably two, must be appointed by all clubs.. Some of the skills required for a Children’s Officer are:

  • A good listener
  • Approachable
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality.

The primary role of the Children’s Officer is the welfare of the children. They should be available to any swimmer or parent who has concerns. Their contact numbers should be made available to all members of clubs and their parents.

Children’s Officers must operate independently of their club’s administrative and coaching structure. They must not be committee members or coaches. They must operate a strict code of confidentiality within the club, but if a concern about child protection comes to the Children’s Officer they should inform the designated person or, if not possible, the appropriate statutory authority.

The Children’s Officer should have the following functions:

  • to promote awareness of necessary child welfare policies and procedures.
  • to influence policy and practice within the club in order to prioritise children’s needs
  • to provide an accessible resource to children
  • to encourage the involvement of parents/guardians in the club activities and co-operate with them in ensuring a safe and enjoyable environment for their children..
  • to act as an advisory resource to Leaders on best practice in children’s sport
  • to meet with the Club Management Committee as required but at least once a year
  • to ensure the election of male and female club captains with whom they can liaise to ensure the voice of the young person is heard.

Children’s Officers must never investigate or validate child protection concerns outside or within the Club and have no counselling or therapeutic role. These roles are filled by the Statutory Authorities. It is, however, possible that child protection concerns will be brought to the attention of the Children’s Officer. In this event, it is essential that the correct procedures are followed, i.e. that reports are passed on immediately to the Designated Person who reports to the Statutory Authorities.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Designated Person

The role of the Designated Person is to report all child protection concerns to the statutory authorities.  They should hold an up to date certificate of Child Protection from ISC/CNI/NISC and be familiar with the Code of Ethics and Child Welfare Guidelines of Swim Ireland.

An officer of the club committee should be appointed by all clubs as the Designated Person for their club and these positions should never be left vacant. If it is not appropriate or practical to report to the Designated Person in the club situation then the report can be made to another member of the club executive who for that particular concern acts as the designated person. If this is not appropriate or practical then a report can be made to the designated person in Swim Ireland.

None of the above takes away the right of any person to report locally to the NHS Trust.

When a report concerning a possible case of child abuse is passed on to the designated person from a children’s officer or any other person they should carry out the following procedure.

If the designated person is unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist or not, he/she should informally consult with the duty social worker in their local NHS Trust

You can contact your duty social worker (For Child Protection) by ringing your local Health Services Trust and ask for the duty social worker.

The designated person will then be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report (This advice may be sought during working hours.

If a formal report is required then it should be given by the designated person to the statutory authorities in person or by phone and always followed up in writing, on the standard reporting form.  This can be got from the Health Service Trust in the respective area. Copies of the report should be kept by the designated person in a secure location.

The designated person reporting suspected child abuse to the statutory authorities should first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine an investigation. Again advice can be sought from the local Health Service Trust.

In case of emergency where a child appears to be in immediate danger and serious risk and the designated person is unable to contact the Duty Social Worker the Gardaí or PSNI should be contacted.

In the case of a Club:

If the report concerns an allegation of abuse against a club member/leader, then one of the executive of the committee, other than the person making the report, should direct the person, against whom the allegation has been made, to step down pending an investigation. If the designated person feels it is necessary they should also inform, in confidence, the CEO of Swim Ireland who will inform the Chairman and Designated Person of Swim Ireland that a report has been made and that a leader has been asked to step down. Only relevant information should be supplied.