SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN & CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
AIMS OF THE POLICY
ECASS believes that children have the right to be completely secure from both the fear and reality of abuse, and we are committed to protecting all the children in our care from harm.
This document provides guidance to all staff and volunteers on how we safeguard and protect children. It outlines the procedures to be followed by staff when dealing with allegations/suspicions of abuse and neglect or safeguarding concerns, and also how we deal with any allegations of abuse against members of staff.
SCOPE OF POLICY
This policy specifically relates to the safeguarding of children and young people up to the age of 18. Staff should read this in conjunction with the following policies found in the staff handbook:
- Code of Conduct
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy
- Health & Safety Policy
- Whistle-Blowers Policy
- On-Line and Social Media Policy
- Prevent Strategy
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITES
ECASS provides a child-centred service. The service will:
- accept responsibility for providing a duty of care for children, safeguard and promote their well-being, and protect them from abuse or neglect
- respond to any allegations involving the welfare or protection of children appropriately
- implement the appropriate disciplinary procedures with staff against whom allegations may be made
- respect the rights, wishes and feelings of children
- recruit, train, and supervise employees to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children from abuse, and themselves against potential allegations
- require staff to adopt and abide by the PSCB procedures found at portsmouthscb.org.uk
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. All staff and volunteers have a responsibility to provide an environment that promotes the safety of the children at all times up to the age of 18 years of age. They must be familiar with this policy, undertake safeguarding training as required, and ensure that their training is kept up to date as requested by their line manager.
ECASS has a member of staff who has the responsibility for being the Designated Officer for Safeguarding Children (DOSC).
ECASS as an organisation, has a named officer with overall responsibility for safeguarding issues known as the Responsible Person. This officer has the role of ensuring that there is clear policy in place and that the policy is effectively implemented across the organisation.
The name of the Responsible Person is maintained at the ECASS Offices.
BACKGROUND TO THE POLICY
This Child Protection and Safeguarding policy is based on guidelines and legislation outlined in the following documents:
- Children Act 1989
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Protection of Children Act 1999
- Children Act 2004.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined by the Children’s Act 2004 as:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
“Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.” (Dept. for Education 2013)
STAFF RECRUITMENT, TRAINING AND SUPPORT.
ECASS is committed to ensuring that it meets its responsibilities in respect of child protection through the provision of support and training to staff, students and volunteers. The organisation will determine the level of training and who will provide it. Therefore, the organisation will ensure that:
- All staff, students and volunteers are carefully recruited, have verified references, a complete employment history, and have full and up to date Disclosure & Barring Service checks at an enhanced level .
- All staff will receive a minimum of 3 hours basic safeguarding training and this (together with any additional safeguarding training undertaken) will be recorded in the staff training section of their personal files.
- All staff will be required to attend a refresher course, a minimum of every 3 years.
- All staff, students and volunteers are given a copy of the Safeguarding Children and Child Protection policy during their induction, and have its implications explained to them.
- During their training all staff and volunteers will be made aware of, and familiarised with the Local Safeguarding Children Board inter-agency procedures.
- All staff, students and volunteers are provided with supervision and management support commensurate with their responsibilities in relation to child protection, and their requirement to maintain caring and safe relationships with children.
- All staff, students and volunteers are made aware of the main indicators of child abuse.
- All staff, students and volunteers are aware of their statutory requirements in respect of the disclosure or discovery of child abuse and the procedure for doing so. All staff, students and volunteers are instructed to report the disclosure or discovery of abuse to the DOSC.
- ECASS will take appropriate action in relation to the findings of any investigation into allegations of abuse, consistent with its duties to protect the safety of children and uphold fair processes for staff, students and volunteers.
- Any member of staff, student or volunteer under investigation for the alleged abuse of a child will be subject to an investigation which will be led by the DOSC and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
- During the recruitment process at least one of the interviewing panel members will be ‘Safer Recruitment’ trained.
- Safeguarding roles, responsibilities and practices will be reviewed at all staff supervision sessions.
All staff, students and volunteers understand the ECASS child protection procedures and have had appropriate training and guidance in the principles of safe caring. To this end:
- Every child requiring intimate care will have details of how this should be managed in a written care plan.
- In group activity sessions every effort will be made to avoid or minimise time when members of staff or volunteers are left alone with a child. If a member of staff is alone with a child, the door of the room should be kept open and another member of staff should be informed.
- Staff will never carry out personal tasks for children that they can do for themselves. Where this is essential, staff will help a child whilst being accompanied by a colleague. Unless a child has a particular need, staff should not accompany children into the toilet. All staff are made aware that this and other similar activities could be misconstrued.
- Staff working in one-to-one sessions with a child must follow the agreed care plan and the safe caring protocols (the remaining bullet points for this section listed below cover protocols for both one-to-one and group sessions).
- Staff will be mindful of how and where they touch children, given their age and emotional understanding. Unnecessary or potentially inappropriate physical contact will be avoided at all times.
- If a child makes inappropriate physical contact with a member of staff or volunteer, this will be recorded fully in the Incident Record Book.
- All allegations made by a child against a member of staff will be fully recorded, including any actions taken, in the Incident Record Book. All witness to incidents should sign the records and this information will be made available for any subsequent investigation.
- Staff members are required to inform the DOSC of all safeguarding and child protection incidents that they either witness directly or have suspicion of.
- Staff will be fully conversant with safe manual handling techniques and apply this in their day-to-day practice to promote safe caring.
CHILD PROTECTION RESPONSE TO CONCERNS
Any concerns that a child may be at risk of significant harm need to be reported to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) or, if outside office hours, the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0300 555 1373. A concern can consist of either a direct disclosure from a child or adult or on-going concerns about the welfare of a child.
If a member of staff is concerned that a child may be at risk of significant harm they must consult their line manager immediately. The staff member and manager will then, in consultation with the DOSC as appropriate, make a decision to determine who will speak directly to the parent(s) and whether to refer the case to Children’s Social Care. Decisions need to be clearly recorded on the client’s records including what course of action is taken and by whom.
All child protection referrals need to be followed up in writing within 48 hours of the referral. The Interagency referral form should be used to do this. (This can be found on the PSCB website).
False allegations of abuse rarely occur. It is not your responsibility to decide whether any allegation is true or not and if a young person says or indicates that he/she is being abused, or information is obtained which gives concern that a child is being abused, you should take this seriously.
Responding to a disclosure:
Actions to take
Where actual or suspected abuse comes to the attention of staff, they will report this to the DOSC at the earliest possible opportunity. Staff are encouraged and supported to trust their professional judgment and if they suspect abuse has, or is, taking place to report this.
On discovering an allegation of abuse, the DOSC will notify the Responsible Person and, if necessary, immediately refer the case to Social Services and / or the Local Authority Designated Officer. The DOSC will be responsible for ensuring that written records are dated, signed and kept confidentially.
Disclosure by / or about a child.
The person receiving the information concerning disclosure/ possible abuse should:
- inform their manager.
- react calmly so as not to frighten the child
- if the allegation is straight from the child tell the child that he/she is not to blame
- take what the child says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child who has a disability and /or differences in language or is very young.
- Keep questions to the absolute minimum to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said. Good practice would dictate that the worker should try to ascertain the level of immediate risk to all of the children in the family, if safe to do so.
- Re-assure the child but do not make promises of ‘keeping secrets’ which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments either to the child or other children.
- inform the child (and parent/carer if appropriate) about the social care referral process
- make a written record of the observation or disclosure that includes:
- the date and time of the observation or disclosure
- the exact words spoken by the child as far as possible
- the name of the person to whom the concern was reported, with the date, time and the names of any other person(s) present at the time.
- original notes need to be kept on the clients records (or scanned).
- if a worker witnesses any marks/injuries on a child resulting from abuse, or where their information suggests abuse has happened, this must be reported to social services within one hour. The worker should record a description of the size and location of the injury as soon as possible.
- If you feel that your concerns aren’t taken seriously then you should follow `resolving professional differences’ (information for professionals) or Chapter 8 of the procedures (www.Portsmouthscb.org.uk)
N.B.: It may not be that all young people are able to express themselves verbally. Communication difficulties may mean that it is hard for them to explain or be understood. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the signs of abuse from the symptoms of some disabilities or conditions in relation to the nature of an individual’s impairments. However, where there are concerns about the safety of a young person/adult with impaired communication skills, record what has been observed in detail and follow procedures to report these concerns.
All records need to be signed and dated and kept in the client’s file, which will be kept securely and confidentially. Staff involved will not discuss the concerns with those who do not need to know.
Actions to Avoid
The person receiving the disclosure/possible abuse should not:
- allow their shock or distaste to show
- ask leading questions
- speculate or make assumptions
- make negative comments about the alleged abuser
- approach the alleged abuser
- make promises or agree to keep secrets.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STAFF
ECASS recognises that, by the very nature of the children’s communication and personal care needs, staff may at times be vulnerable to accusations of abuse and that this may result in false allegations being made. In respect of this, ECASS will ensure that all allegations are treated as fairly and open-mindedly as possible in conjunction with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for dealing with allegations against members of staff.
ECASS will always consider the use of suspension as a neutral act to protect people using its services, staff and the organisation. Advice should be taken from its HR consultants in these circumstances.
If there are concerns regarding any member of staff then the DOSC needs to be informed immediately. This should be applied whenever it is alleged that a member of staff has in any activity:
- behaved in a way that has or may have harmed a child
- possibly committed a criminal offence against / related to a child
- behaved toward a child in a way which indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children.
If the DOSC is not available then contact is to be made with the Responsible Person (Richard Soutar).
If an allegation of abuse is made against the DOSC, the Registered Person will be informed as soon as possible. They will then assume responsibility for the situation or delegate this role to a senior member of staff or appropriate trustee.
A referral to social services should be made if there are concerns that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. This may include an adult disclosing that a child has witnessed or experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect, or if a worker witnesses said abuse.
If the DOSC has reasonable grounds for believing that a child has been – or is in danger of being – subject to abuse, the following procedure will be activated:
- Contact will be made, at the earliest possible opportunity, with the local social services department. Referrals made verbally must be followed by a written report within 48 hours.
- The Manager or the DOSC will share as much information as possible with the social services department about the allegation / related incidents and will also share this information with parents in accordance with advice given by social services and the police.
- At all times the safety, protection and interests of children concerned will take precedence. The Manager and staff will work with and support parents/carers as far as they are legally able. Wherever possible the parent/carer will be informed of a referral to social care, the reasons for this and any implications. Examples when not to involve the parent/carer include:
- if the alleged perpetrator is the parent or carer (or has parental responsibility)
- if this would put the child at greater risk
- concerns of fabricated Induced Illness
If there is a risk of significant harm and it is not possible to inform the parent/carer prior to contacting social services the referral must be made anyway and an agreement made with Children’s Social Care about who will inform them.
It is noted that parent/carer consent for referral is not required but good practice to obtain if possible. Where a parent/carer has refused to give permission for the referral, and it is still considered that there is a need for a referral then the following actions should be followed:
- the reason for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded
- children’s social care team should be told that the parent withheld their permission and
- the parent should be contacted to inform them that after considering their wishes a referral still had to be made
Decisions not to share information should be accompanied by a recording of the rationale for not sharing the information.
- ECASS will assist social services and the police, as far as it is able, during any investigation of abuse or neglect. This will include disclosing written and verbal information and evidence.
- OFSTED, where appropriate, will be informed of any allegations of abuse against a member of staff, student or volunteer, or any abuse that is alleged to have taken place on the premises or during a visit or outing.