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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 16 November, 2018
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New child protection service for migrant families launched

The initiative has been established to address the “general lack of understanding and stigma surrounding migrant families going through child protection interventions”.

Christine Varghese from Texas; Olivia Stapp from California; Laura Kersulyte from Lithuania and Vivian Asonye from Texas at today's launch.
Christine Varghese from Texas; Olivia Stapp from California; Laura Kersulyte from Lithuania and Vivian Asonye from Texas at today's launch.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A NEW SUPPORT service has been launched to help migrant families in Ireland.

The Migrant Family Support Service aims to offer practical advice to migrant families and foster parents of migrant children.

The service is backed by the New Communities Partnership and run by a team of trained multi-lingual, multi-faith staff and volunteers.

The initiative currently has drop-in-clinics in Dublin and Cork.

Speaking at the launch in Dublin today, Gordon Jeyes, Chief Executive of Tulsa – the Child and Family Agency, said he was “deeply conscious of the cultural adjustments required to fit ethnic, religious or social norms”.

In addition to supporting migrant families, the new service will help frontline professionals to deliver child protection interventions.

Jeyes said that 200 of Tulsa’s 1,200 frontline social workers will undergo cultural sensitivity training this year.

Lack of understanding

Reginald Oko-Flex Inya, Director of the New Communities Partnership, said the initiative would help migrant families and foster parents caring for migrant children “to reach a clearer understanding of their rights and obligations towards their children’s welfare”.

At present in Ireland, there is a general lack of understanding and stigma surrounding migrant families going through child protection interventions. There are few referral and language services to support families in difficulty.

“Encouraging positive parenting interactions between migrant families and childcare service providers is at the heart of this service,” he added.

The project has received a grant from the Community Foundation for Ireland to set up the service. However, Oko-Flex Inya is hopeful that State funding will be provided to ensure continuity of the service.

If the service receives more financial support we can expand it to provide further integrated services at local level, such as ethnic-centred counselling services across communities in Ireland.

The service will provide Garda vetting for all staff and volunteers; training for community leaders, such as pastors and imams; training for Sunday School teachers and Quran teachers about child protection practices; and publication of parenting guidelines.

Read: ‘A huge step towards justice’: Migrant Rights Centre welcomes Bill on undocumented workers

Read: Anti-racism hotline needed to make sure ‘complaints are taken seriously’

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Órla Ryan

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