At Footsteps we recognise that childcare professionals and staff who work in Early Years settings see the children in their care on a regular basis and can make an important contribution to their safeguarding. They are well placed to observe changes, identify concerns and support vulnerable children. All Early Years settings should have trained Designated Lead Practitioner for child protection and deputising arrangements should also be put in place.
The role of Designated Lead practitioner for child protection is held by Maritsa Ward O’Connell.
The aim of this policy is to ensure that all staff are aware of all relevant child protection policies and procedures, e.g. guidance on a safe play and equipment, safety on outings, ratios, use of internet, nappy changing procedure, use of cameras and phones etc. Therefore, this policy should be read and understood in conjunction with all the other Footsteps policies and procedures. We ensure parents are made aware of our child protection related policies and procedures through making the Operational Plan available for parents to view at all times.
Practitioners have a duty to protect and promote the child protection and the welfare of children. Due to the many hours of care we are providing staff will often be the first people to sense that there may be a problem. They may well be the first people in whom children confide about abuse or to spot changes in a child’s behaviour which may indicate abuse. The nursery has a duty to be aware that abuse does occur in our society.
This statement lays out the procedures that will be followed if we have any reason to believe that a child in our care is subject to welfare issues including physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.
Our prime responsibility is the welfare and well-being of all children in our care. As such we believe we have a duty to the children, parents and staff to act quickly and responsibly in any instance that may come to our attention. This includes sharing information with any relevant agencies such as local authority services for children’s social care, health professionals or the police. All staff will work as part of a multi-agency team, where needed, in the best interests of the child.
What is child abuse and types of abuse?
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. A person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused by an adult or adults, another child or children.
Physical signs may involve but are not limited to: unexplained bruising in unlikely areas, facial bruising, hand/finger marks, bite marks, burns, lacerations or abrasions.
Staff might notice certain behavioural signs that also indicate physical abuse such as a child that is shy away from physical contact, is withdrawn or aggressive towards others or their behaviour changes suddenly.
All signs of marks/ injuries to a child when they come in to nursery will be recorded and discussed with the parent at the earliest opportunity and an existing injury form will be filled out and signed by a parent.
Physical signs may include but are not limited to: bruising consistent with being held firmly, discomfort in walking, sitting, pain or itching in the genital area, discharge or blood on under clothes or loss of appetite. Behavioural signs may include but are not limited to: drawings or play showing indicators or sexual activity, sexually explicit language, knowledge of adult sexual behaviour, poor self-esteem or withdrawal.
Signs of emotional abuse may include but is not limited to a general failure to thrive, not meeting expected developmental milestones and attention seeking, not telling the truth, inability to have fun, low self-esteem, speech disorders or inappropriate affection towards others.
Neglect is a persistent failure to meet basic physical and psychological needs, which may result in the serious impairment of the child’s health and development-for example poor hygiene, untreated medical problems, poor attendance or under nourishment. Signs can involve but are not limited to: a child who always seems to be hungry or is constantly tired or talks of being left alone.
However, when identifying any potential instances of abuse staff must at all times be aware that children may demonstrate individual or combinations of the indicators detailed, but may not be the subject of abuse. Individual or isolated incidents may but do not necessarily indicate abuse. However, staff should always remain vigilant and must not ignore warning signs and act upon them if they raise any concerns.
Recording concerns of abuse and disclosures
Staff should make a factual record of any observation or disclosure and include:
Age of the child and date of birth
Date and time of the observation or the disclosure
Exact words spoken by the child
Exact position and type of injuries or marks seen
Exact observation of an incident including any other witnesses
Name of the person to whom the concern was reported, with date and time; and the names of any other person present at the time
Any discussion held with the parents
All members of staff must know the procedures for recording information.
If a child starts to talk to an adult about potential abuse it is important not to promise the child complete confidentiality. This promise cannot be kept. It is vital that the child is allowed to talk openly and disclosure is not forced or words put into the child’s mouth. As soon as possible after the disclosure it is necessary details are logged accurately.
All concerns should be reported to Designated Safeguarding Lead for child protection. All referrals should be made to Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 0300 126 1000 out of hours 01604 626 938.
NSPCC helpline can be contacted for an advice and support by calling 0808 800 5000 or sending an email to email@example.com
Staff, students and volunteers
We provide adequate and appropriate staffing resources to meet the needs of children.
Applicants for posts within the nursery are clearly informed that the positions are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Candidates are informed of the need to carry out checks before posts can be confirmed. Where applications are rejected because of information that has been disclosed, applicants have the right to know and to challenge incorrect information.
We give staff members/volunteers and student’s opportunities to declare changes that may affect their suitability to care for the children including anything in their private life, family members or medical background during regular reviews/supervisions.
All staff are required to have an enhanced DBS checks carried out on them and self-declare any changes in their personal environment that could affect their suitability to work with children.
This information is also stated within every member of staff’s contract.
We abide by the requirements of the EYFS and any Ofsted guidance in respect to obtaining references and suitability checks for staff and volunteers, to ensure that no disqualified person or unfit person works at the nursery or has access to the children.
We ensure we receive at least two written references before a new member of staff commences employment with us.
Volunteers, including students, do not work unsupervised.
We abide by the requirements of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) and the Childcare Act 2006 in respect of any person who is disqualified from providing childcare, is dismissed from our employment, or resigns in circumstances that would otherwise have led to dismissal for reasons of child protection concern.
We have procedures for recording the details of visitors to the nursery and take security steps to ensure that we have control over who comes into the nursery, so that no unauthorised person has unsupervised access to the children.
All visitors will be supervised whilst on the premises, especially when in the areas the children use.
All staff have access to a whistleblowing policy which will enable them to share any concerns that may arise about their colleagues in an appropriate manner.
All staff will receive regular supervision meetings where opportunities will be made available to discuss any issues relating to individual children, child protection training and any needs for further support.
The deployment of staff within the nursery and CCTV usage allows for constant supervision and support.
Staff do not disclose any information about where they work on social media.
Parents are normally the first point of contact except in the circumstances when we believe the parent is likely to be the abuser and the confrontation would potentially place a child at risk of harm. If you are worried that a child is in danger ring the police immediately.
Support to families
Footsteps take every step to build up trusting and supportive relationships between staff and families within the nursery. The nursery continues to welcome a child and their family whilst any investigations are being carried out in relation to abuse within the home.
Confidential records kept on a child are shared with parents or those who have parental responsibility for the child only if appropriate under the guidance of Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children partnership.
The nationally accepted definition of Private Fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a ‘close relative’.
This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer for 28 days or more.
Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).
Many private fostering arrangements remain unknown to the local authority. This is a cause for concern as privately fostered children and young people, without the safeguards provided by law, are a particularly vulnerable group.
Northamptonshire Children’s Services must be informed of all private fostering arrangements. Professionals that become aware of a child that is being privately fostered should encourage the parent/carer to inform Children’s Services of the arrangement or contact Children’s Services themselves if they think parents/carers may not have done so already.
Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups at risk when facing safeguarding challenges.
All practitioners understand that these groups of children are more at risk of abuse and neglect than children without SEN or disability due to the barriers of disclosure it creates.
- Behaviour – It may be difficult to understand if a child’s change in behaviour/mood (especially children with ASD) is down to their SEN/disability or if it is a safeguarding issue.
- Communication – children with communication difficulties will understandably find it difficult to disclose or express themselves.
- Social interaction – it is commonly known for children with autism to have difficulties in social skills, therefore they may appear to be playing alone and being withdrawn which can be a sign of abuse.
- Expressing and conveying feelings and emotions –Some children with SEN/disabilities may find it difficult in expressing themselves and sharing their feelings.
Strategies to help overcome barriers
Having an effective key person system with daily keyworker time helps practitioners become more familiar with their children and any changes that they present. It also gives children the opportunity to discuss (if able) anything that they want to express to a person they feel secure with.
Communication tools – At Footsteps due to the high amount of EAL and SEN children, we provide different communication methods such as Makaton, props, pictures and emotion cards.
Support from other agencies that see the child regularly such as SSS, SALT and paediatrician.
Communication with parents – Daily feedback and 4 weekly reviews, also children’s targets are carried out daily so practitioners can see any changes in their behaviour. When possible to arrange for bilingual staff or parents to support our EAL children.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The term ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM) encompasses all procedures that either:
- Fully or partially remove external female genitalia, or
- Injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is usually carried out on girls between the ages of 5 and 14 years, but younger girls and adult women are sometimes victims of this procedure.
Internationally, FGM is recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and when performed on a child, is a violation of the Rights of the Child.
In the UK, under the FGM Act 2003 and now extended to apply abroad under the Serious Crime Act 2015, it is an offence for any person (regardless of their nationality or residence status) to:
- perform FGM;
- Assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself;
- Assist a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or permanent UK resident.
When any child is injured by a dog a referral to MASH should be considered. Some referrals might be logged “for information” only by the agencies if it is clearly established that no significant or continued risk is likely to the child. Some referrals might prompt “information leaflets” on Dogs and Safe Care of Children to be issued if the incident or injury was clearly minor. In some more cases initial assessment or joint section 47 investigations would lead to further discussions with other agencies. The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 provides very detailed information on the legislation covering certain types of dogs, the responsibilities of owners and actions that can be taken to remove and control dog.
Allegation of abuse by member of staff
The Designated officer should be informed of all cases in which it is alleged that a person who works with children has:
-Behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child.
-Possibly committed a criminal offence against children or related to a child.
-Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children for example if their conduct falls within any of categories of abuse.
Designated Officer for Northamptonshire is Andy Smith.
Once an official complaint/ allegation has been made the Designated Officer’s role is to:
-Capture and coordinate the sharing of all the information relating to the case with the officers and agencies that need to be informed.
-Provide advice and guidance to the employers.
-Monitor and track the progress of the case through to its conclusion with the aim to resolve it as quickly as possible.
Timescales: Referrals to the DO regarding the allegation must be made without delay. The DO has 3- 5 working days and where a Designated Officer strategy meeting is appropriate the designated officer will arrange the initial meeting to include the employer and relevant multi- agency partners.
Do not investigate unless DO says to do so.
In accordance with the Footsteps Daycare disciplinary procedure the Nursery Manager will suspend the member of staff on a full pay or exclude a student for the duration of the investigation. This is not to admit that the alleged incident has taken place but is to protect the staff as well as children and families throughout the process.
Ofsted must be informed of any allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person working or looking after children at the premises. Ofsted must be also notified of the action taken in respect of the allegation. These notifications must be made as soon reasonably practicable but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made. We understand that not doing so is an offence.
If a member of staff is dismissed because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm Footsteps has a duty to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service to meet their responsibilities under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups act 2006.
All suspicions and investigations are kept confidential and shared only with those who need to know. Any information is shared under the guidance of the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board. Staff must not make comment either publicly or in private about parents supposed or actual behaviour, strict confidentiality will be required at all times. Parents and families will be treated with respect and in a non-judgemental manner whilst investigations are being carried out.
Use of cameras and mobile phones
We believe the safety of the children is paramount and we have taken the necessary steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children in the nursery. Only the designated camera is to be used to take any photo within the setting or during outings. Use of mobile phones is not permitted on the premises. This will apply to all staff, students, volunteers’, parents and visitors. Staff are strictly forbidden from using their mobile phones during work hours. Staff are only permitted to use mobile phones in the staff room during a scheduled break.
British values and radicalisation
From 1 July 2015, all childcare providers must have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.
The government has defined extremism in the Prevent strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British Values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
Childcare and Early Years Providers subject to the Prevent duty will be expected to demonstrate activity in the following areas:
- Assessing the risk of children being drawn into terrorism.
- Demonstrate that they are protecting children and young people from being drawn into terrorism by having robust child protection policies.
- Ensure that their child protection arrangements take into account the policies and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
- Make sure that staff have received training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism, and to challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimize terrorism.
- Expected to ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet.
- When children are absence for 2 or more sessions in which no contact has been made by parents, practitioners will contact and document records of absence, documenting the call.
Promotion of Fundamental British Values in the early years includes:
Democracy: making decisions together, for example giving opportunities to develop enquiring minds in an atmosphere where questions are valued.
Rule of law: understanding rules matter as cited in Personal Social and Emotional development for example collaborating with children to create rules and codes of behaviour.
Individual liberty: freedom for all, for example reflecting on their differences and understanding we are free to have different opinions.
Mutual respect and tolerance: treat others as you want to be treated, for example sharing and respecting other’s opinions.
All new staff, students and volunteers are given brief safeguarding training as a part of their induction. Twice in a period of 12 months we will also hold an in-house training evening to allow staff members to refresh their knowledge of the child protection policy and update themselves with any changes or current legislation.
Further information and reference
- Statutory Framework for EYFS 2014
- Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board
- Working together to safeguard children 2018
- The Prevent Duty 2019
- Serious Crime Act 2015