Published Tuesday, 18 September 2012
The board will be launched at Stormont by the Health Minister. (© Getty)
The Board will include membership from health and social care bodies, criminal justice agencies and Education and Library Boards.
It will work to ensure the effectiveness of what is done by its member agencies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Minister Edwin Poots said the launch of the Safegaurding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) marked a "real milestone" in the effort to protect children.
"This Board is a partnership and has real potential to make a huge difference in the lives of children and young people. Its compelling unifying force is the desire to improve the outcomes of some of the most vulnerable children in Northern Ireland," he said.
"Working together, I believe the SBNI can help keep children safe and reduce the numbers of children who die or suffer serious injury at the hands of certain individuals."
Education Minister John O'Dowd and Justice Minister David Ford supported the launch in a demonstration of their Departments' commitment to safeguarding.
Minister O'Dowd said: "I am very committed to safeguarding our children and making sure that schools play a full and active role. Schools have an important contribution to make as they are in a unique position to identify signs of distress or difficulties and to respond appropriately."
Justice Minister David Ford also expressed his support for the new board, stating that it will be a partner to the criminal justice agencies in protecting the most vulnerable in society.
Chair of SBNI is Hugh Connor, educated at Queen's University, has worked at every level within Social Services and was Director of Social Services in both a trust and a board for 15 years.
He also worked as a General Manager in a Trust managing both Health and Social Care staff and a large Psychiatric Hospital.
In 1993, he was asked by the Secretary of State for Health in England to serve on the Community Care Support Force, which prepared local authorities, health authorities and others for the changes that came about due to the New Community Care Legislation.
A former Chairman of the NI Association of Directors, he retired from the Eastern Health and Social Services Board in 2009. Since then he has worked in Bulgaria and Ukraine for NICO and in the Republic for the Health Service Executive.
Mr Connor said: "SBNI will work with those organisations, professions and the wider community, who are concerned about the protection and wellbeing of children.
"We will strive to improve learning, enhance practice and ensure that children's voices are at the centre of all that is done by the organisations and professionals who together make up the Child Protection System. In so doing, we believe that the system will work in a more coordinated and effective fashion and year on year children will be better protected and kept safer."
NSPCC Northern Ireland head of service, Neil Anderson - the charity's representative on the Board - said that the new arrangements "represent a significant investment in vital structures and processes".
"Keeping children safe necessitates a multi agency, multi faceted response and the commencement of this new legislation signifies an important step forward in the protection of children," he said.
"We know that many families have complex needs and can be involved with a range of agencies across, for example, areas such as mental health, health and social services and the criminal justice system. It is for this very reason that the Board's broad remit and membership is so important."