Current legislation builds upon the Children Act 1989 which was created to highlight and define the specific responsibilities of any organisation or individual that works with children, including but not limited to parents, carers, teachers and local authorities. It places an emphasis on collaboration and cooperation – whereby all parties should work together towards the common aim of ensuring a child’s welfare and safeguarding.
The act also serves to ensure that all parties know how to deal with allegations of child abuse and/or neglect. The act restructured some of the processes within the court system, namely those dealing with family matters such as custody hearings etc. In 2000, when Victoria Climbie tragically died due to major flaws in how cases and allegations of neglect and abuse were handled – an independent inquiry was convened which highlighted these problems and came to the conclusion that children and vulnerable adults within British society were not being safeguarded. This was termed the Laming Report and resulted in The Child Act (2004) and the green paper (Every Child Matters). As I have covered in past units, the ECM paper has 5 key aims; these being that every child:Should be kept safeBe healthyEnjoy and achieveHave economic securityMakes a positive contribution The 2004 Child Act placed duties on local authorities, namely that each local authority has an appointed lead member for children’s services and a director of children’s services, both of whom are responsible for the safeguarding of children through the services they provide.
Under this act, there are Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards – which replace the old Area Child Protection Committees; the new LSCBs are more advantageous since the act give these boards statutory status which gives them functions of investigation and review under SECTION 14, this means that in the vase of a child’s death in the area they must form an inquiry under the working together to safeguard children (another important piece of legislation). The act also places duties on local authorities and their partners (such as health services, police and the youth justice service) to cooperate in promoting well-being among children and putting in place and maintaining safeguarding and welfare measures. In line with the ethos illustrated in all of the above legislation, children’s services have a duty to adopt a multi-agency approach to safeguarding children and promote their well-being and welfare. One tool used to achieve these aims is the common assessment framework (or CAF).This is used to identify any needs children may have and how these can be provided.
It looks at identifying needs early in the child’s life, and implementing the best (i.e most appropriate) plan of support. CAF is used when it is ascertained that the child in question is not (or is anticipated, will not) meet the 5 aims of ECM without an intervention. CAF should not be used in cases (or suspected cases) of abuse or neglect – or if the child is at risk.Lastly, the vetting and barring scheme came into effect in 2009. This means that anyone working with children, young people or vulnerable adults is required to have their information checked against a database of unsuitable (to work with child, young people and vulnerable adults) persons and if they are not suitable, they are barred from working with children, young people and vulnerable adults. This is called the disclosure and barring service (DBS) and the above process is called a DBS check; all persons who work with children within a school need to have a DBS check.N.
B: Where I have use the term “child” or “children”, I am referring to both children and young people. Child protection is a specific area within the umbrella concept of safeguarding (which is any measures related to promoting the welfare and safety of children).Anybody working with children needs to be aware of what child protection entails within this wider concept of safeguarding children and young people.
Child protection is the process of the protection of children who have/are suffering from abuse or neglect or are at risk of abuse or neglect. This also would entail proactively protecting and preventing children and young people from any maltreatment, and to make sure children are allowed to develop in safe, caring and encouraging environments whereby their developmental health can be nurtured, not hindered.If a parent or carer fails in their duty of care and/or protection, this can result in court proceedings whereby could be taken from the home and put into the care system. Returning to the wider concept of safeguarding, the EYFS framework for early years providers states that there must be an assigned person to be responsible and take the lead in safeguarding measure. This person would responsible for providing other staff are with the necessary information relating to safeguarding in terms of support, guidance and advice.
Additionally, this designated leader would also be required to complete a training course in child protection. They would be the main port-of-call in liasoning with the LSCB and with other statutory children’s service agencies (for example each local authorities has a specialised department which specifically handles matters of child protection). Other forms of safeguarding in the wider context would include:Individual staff following and promoting school policies, procedures and legislation relating to child safeguarding in areas such as health & safety, anti-bullying, fire drills, suitable persons etc.Individual staff being up-to-date with relevant training and information relating to safeguarding. Individual staff and organisations promoting the welfare of children, encouraging the development and learning of children.The utilisation of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) which allows practitioners to identify the needs of individual children and deliver them using the most appropriate method (I have also covered this in learning point 1.1). This system allows for a multi-agency approach to providing necessary support to children, by providing means of adding and accessing information about individual children – parental consent would be acquired before sharing information between agencies in line with the data protection act.
National and local guidelines, policies and procedures relating to safeguarding would affect the day-to-day work of practitioners, especially in the following areas:Child protectionChildcare practiceRisk assessmentsAdvocacy for the child (i.e making sure that children’s views and opinions are listened to, taken on board and represented fairly)Supporting individuals (especially children and young people) who air concerns relating to areas such as safeguarding or welfare.Taking each of the above areas in turn, I will analyse day-to-day practices and how they relate to national and local safeguarding guidelines, procedures and policies relating to each.
Childcare Practice:One important piece of legislation in this area is the child protection act (2002), which places a duty of care on educational institutes and authorities to safeguard children and young people, and to promote their welfare. This would affect day-to-day work, in that individual practitioners would have to be competent in their understanding and practice of safeguarding policy and procedures.This would include: Being vigilant to signs of abuse and knowing how to report any concerns and to whom to report these concerns. Ensuring that the environment (such as a classroom) is safe for children by being aware of and practicing health and safety policies and procedures. Undertaking and required training, and to ensure that any relevant qualifications are accurate and kept up-to-date.Child ProtectionAll schools should have a section in their safeguarding policy concerning vetting and barring, stating that all employees, pupils and volunteers should be appropriately vetted.
This is in line with national legislation such as the children act (2004). This would include checks such as DBS/CRB checks. This would affect day-to-day work, such as when hiring new employees. Existing staff such as teachers, would have to have a valid DBS check.If a staff member did not produce a DBS check, or if it upon a new DBS check (some schools have new DBS checks done on their staff every 3 years) revealed that they were an unsuitable/barred person, they would not be allowed to work with young people or children.Risk AssessmentsNational legislation such as The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW) influences local policies and procedures in education, and part of a school’s safeguarding policy would involve measures such as when and how to conduct a risk assessment.Risk assessments are a regular part of everyday working in the child education/childcare sector.
The purpose of a risk assessment is to highlight any potential dangers or risk in a activity or environment and to put safe measures in place to reduce risk to an acceptable level.For example, if there is to be a craft activity making necklaces in a classroom – a teacher would conduct a risk assessment; perhaps looking at risks such as the use of scissors, choking hazards on craft materials (such as beads) – and putting measures in place to reduce risk, such as going through safety reminders with pupils (such as “don’t run with scissors”) and ensuring there is appropriate levels of supervision.Advocacy for the child (i.e making sure that children’s views and opinions are listened to, taken on board and represented fairly)The document “The National Standards for the Provision of Children’s Advocacy” (2002), is the set of national standards the government has set out regarding practices of Advocacy for children. The idea of advocacy is best summed up in the words of Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children who said “Listening to children and young people lies at the very heart of the Government’s reform programme to improve outcomes for every child. This is especially important for those times when children have a problem, concern or want to make a complaint.
Advocacy helps to safeguard children and young people, and protect them from harm and neglect. ” To this end there are charities in place to support children in exercising their rights to be heard, and for their views to be listened to – especially when they have concerns, problems or need to make a complaint. One such charity is the NYAS (the national youth advocacy service).This affects day-to-day work as practitioners such as teachers, need to be aware of how to access the service of such charities, so that if a child needs to access such services, they are able to and how a child can request an advocate (i.e. someone to represent them and their views).Supporting individuals (especially children and young people) who air concerns relating to areas such as safeguarding or welfare.
Schools will have specific policies relating to what to do if a child voices concerns, based upon a myriad of national frameworks, guidance, acts etc. such as ECM, childrens act, UN Convention on The Rights of the Child (technically international but many parts of the government have taken this on board). This would affect day-to-day practice as staff such as teachers, would have follow safeguarding policies and procedures and in the case of a child voicing concern which would include the following points that individual should follow in this scenario:Listen and take their concerns seriouslyReassure the childNot make promises regarding what will happenNot say that confidentiality will be kept (as it may need to breached in cases of abuse etc.)Record information following data proceduresNot ask questions or come to own conclusions (just record and report as par procedure)Seek support and guidance from the relevant person/s (such as the school’s designated safeguarding person – previous known as the child protection officer)