Safeguarding Children and Young People - Policy Statement
PARCS is committed to fulfilling its duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, by ensuring that staff are trained and supported in meeting their safeguarding responsibilities in the course of their work, and have easily accessed procedures and guidance to assist them.
- Has an effective safeguarding and promoting welfare policy in place and follows agreed procedures;
- Recruits staff and volunteers in line with safer recruitment processes;
- Has procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse made against staff and volunteers;
- Has a designated Lead Safeguarding Manager for dealing with safeguarding issues;
- Accesses appropriate safeguarding training for all staff.
PARCS is a specialist organisation that provides a range of services for children and young people and parents and carers/guardians. PARCS recognises that it must have the appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place in the same way as organisations in the public sector and work effectively with Local Safeguarding Children Boards. Staff (paid and volunteer) must be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and how they should respond to child protection concerns in line with current national guidance.
The Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board provides further information where more detailed consideration is necessary.
4LSCB Safeguarding Children Procedures
Portsmouth has shared Safeguarding procedures with Hampshire, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. The Procedures clearly outline the responsibilities and processes for child protection and are applicable to the full range of children and adults services.
Please see the following website (http://www.4lscb.org.uk/) for information.
The following procedural guidance is based on Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) and What To Do If You’re Worried a Child Is Being Abused (2003).
The child’s interests are paramount, and his or her safety and welfare will always be given first priority.
A child’s concern will be listened to carefully and will always be taken seriously.
The limits of confidentiality, if child protection concerns arise in the course of PARCS work with service users, will be explained to them at the time of their initial involvement with the agency.
Care will be taken not to infringe privacy and confidentiality any more than is necessary to safeguard the welfare of the child.
In assessing the need for action when faced with child protection concerns, staff will remain sensitive to issues of family relationships, religion and culture, but will always place a child’s safety and welfare first.
Wherever possible arrangements will be made to assist with communication in circumstances of disability or where English is not the service user’s first language.
Staff will use plain, jargon-free language appropriate to the age and culture of each person, and will explain any unavoidable technical or professional terms.
PARCS will ensure that all staff, including volunteers, understand the agency’s safeguarding procedures, and are given appropriate levels of training in child protection matters.
PARCS will ensure that training programmes take account of the latest Government guidance and requirements, and relevant research, and operate within an anti-discriminatory framework.
PARCS will ensure that the safeguarding procedures in use by local authorities in which it operates are accessed when necessary, in order that good working relationships and appropriate levels of co-operation can be maintained should the occasion arise.
PARCS will ensure that all staff receive appropriate supervision on a regular basis, and have access to a suitably qualified manager in the event of the need for an urgent case discussion.
Abuse, Neglect and Concern’s for Children’s Welfare
A person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to prevent harm. Children and young people may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. The concept of significant harm as the threshold justifying compulsory intervention in family life is likely to apply to the following indications of abuse, and the local authority as lead agency for child protection, the police or the NSPCC, have powers to take action in such instances of abuse by removing children from situations of harm or danger. Local authorities have a duty under Section 47(1) to investigate where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives or is found in their area, is suffering or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
Indications of Abuse and Neglect
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child, including by fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately causing, ill health to a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person, age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children, causing children frequently to feel frightened, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Emotional abuse may include witnessing domestic violence.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape or buggery) or non-penetrative acts. They may include involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, or neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs, including securing the child’s safety.
Child Welfare Concerns
Child welfare concerns may arise in many different contexts, including where a child or family is already known to agencies. Reasons for these concerns may not be as clearly defined as the signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect, and the likelihood of significant harm may not be clearly established. Nevertheless, professionals may feel concern or anxiety that a child’s welfare, health or development is being impaired in some way, and that this perceived impairment to a child’s requires further consideration. Factors that contribute to such concerns may include:
- Social exclusion
- Domestic violence
- Mental illness of parent or carer
- Drug and alcohol misuse
In addition to S47 inquiries, the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (D o H 2000) provides the appropriate tool for agencies to use in working together in such cases.
In addition to their allocated casework or other professional activity with a child, PARCS staff may be involved in a case that also requires child protection activity, either as a referrer, a provider of information, or as a contributor to assessment.
What to do when child protection concerns arise:
Concerns for a child’s welfare may arise in a variety of ways and in a range of settings. PARCS staff cannot assume that only the child and family Local Authority workers might come across situations where possible abuse of a child is a concern. Staff working with any of the parties involved in support, counselling or prevention may find themselves discussing information that alerts them to the possibility of abuse, even when problems with a child were not the focus of the session. A service user, whether a child or an adult, may reveal indications of abuse, past or present, without realising the implications of what is being said. A clear statement of abuse, neglect or other causes for concern may be made, or indications of possible cause for concern may be noticed by anyone working with or caring for a child.
PARCS staff must be familiar with and follow PARCS child protection procedures and guidance, understanding how they fit with the Local Safeguarding Children Board’s child protection procedures for promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children. Staff must know whom to contact to express concerns about a child’s welfare and how to make a referral to Social Services. Where there are questions around what actions to take with regard to an individual case there is the possibility of asking the duty social worker for a ‘no names discussion’. Where the abuse disclosed to a PARCS staff member relates to events in the child’s or (now adolescent/adult’s) past it needs to be established whether and to what extent the abuse was already investigated before making a referral to Social Services.
In situations where an adult openly refers to abuse or expresses concern about their, or a somebody else’s treatment of a child, the worker should check back what is being said, and make it clear that he or she will need to discuss with their manager what happens next. Upon receipt of any such information the manager should discuss the matter immediately with the Safeguarding Lead or in their absence, the Senior Practitioner. It is not the responsibility of PARCS or any of its staff to undertake a child protection investigation. The role of PARCS staff is to listen carefully, note what is said, give reassurances where appropriate and seek advice as soon as practicable to do so.
If any child or adult user asks the worker to keep information about potential or actual abuse secret, the worker must explain immediately and straightforwardly that such information cannot be kept secret and will be discussed with their line manager and referred to the relevant local authority.
Staff must remember that an allegation of child abuse or neglect may lead to a criminal investigation, so staff must not do anything that may jeopardise police inquiries such as asking a child leading questions or attempting to investigate the allegations of abuse.
In exceptional circumstances, when it is judged that the child or young person is in immediate danger, then steps should be taken to keep them safe until appropriate action can be taken by Social Services. A decision to take such action requires immediate discussion with the worker's line manager.
- Staff must discuss concerns with their line manager. This discussion must be recorded, signed and dated by worker and manager. If the line manager is not available one of the Safeguarding Leads should be contacted directly.
- All concerns about child abuse or neglect must be referred to Social Services or the Police. Agreement with Safeguarding Lead or the Line Manager must be sought with regard to who should make the referral, and to whom.
- All referrals must be notified to the Safeguarding Lead and the CD and the Administrator who will collate information across the organisation. Case identity numbers should be given as well as names.
- Children should be communicated with in a way that is appropriate to their age, understanding and preference. This is especially important for children with disability and for children whose preferred language is not English. Where concerns arise as a result of information given by a child it is important to reassure them but not to promise confidentiality.
- When a referral is made, agreement should be sought with the recipient with regard to what the child and parents will be told, by whom and when. If a referral is made by telephone, it must be confirmed it in writing within 48 hours. Social Services should acknowledge the written referral within one working day of receiving it. If such acknowledgement is not received within 3 working days, they must be contacted again.
- Re the need to deal with issue of consent for referrals: in general, it is good practice to seek to discuss any safeguarding concerns with the family (parents and child – see below) and, where possible and appropriate, seek their consent to making a referral to social services. However, there will be some circumstances where professional should not seek consent e.g. where to do so would:
- Place a child at increased risk of significant harm;
- Place an adult at risk of serious harm;
- Prejudice the prevention or detection of a serious crime;
- Lead to unjustified delay in making enquiries about allegations of significant harm.
This should be discussed with the social worker first.
Which Local Authority should be notified?
Referral should be made to the Local Authority in which the child is currently residing, as well.
Clear recoding must be placed on the case file within 24 hours about any of the above events.
This record should include what was said, by whom (with names), the decisions made and reasons for them, the action taken, and any outcome. In any circumstances where the protection of a child has been discussed, the record should be countersigned by the manager, together with any other relevant comments or information.
Also notify the Safeguarding lead by email the actions, decisions taken, outcomes recorded and placed on file. This includes social services and police decisions.
This section is about sharing information for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Sharing information amongst practitioners working with children and their families is essential. In many cases it is only when information from a range of sources is put together that a child can be seen to be in need or at risk of harm.
There may be anxiety for staff about the legal or ethical restrictions on sharing information, particularly with other agencies. Staff should be aware of the law and should comply with the code of conduct or other guidance applicable to PARCS. These rarely provide an absolute barrier to disclosure. PARCS staff must be prepared to exercise their professional judgement. A failure to pass on information that might prevent a tragedy could expose PARCS to criticism in the same way as an unjustified disclosure.
A decision whether to disclose information may be particularly difficult if staff think that it may damage the trust between them and their client. Wherever possible staff should explain the problem to the client, seek agreement and explain the reasons if deciding to act against a parent or child’s wishes. It is often helpful to discuss such concerns with a senior colleague, designated or named professional.
What are the legal restrictions?
The decision whether to disclose information may arise in various contexts. There may be concerns about a child that might be allayed if shared with another agency. PARCS staff may be asked for information in connection with an assessment of a child’s needs under s17 of the Children 1989 or an enquiry under s47 of the Act or in connection with court proceedings. In all cases those main restrictions on disclosure of information are:
- Common law duty of confidence
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Data Protection Act 1998
Each of these has to be considered separately. Other statutory provisions may also be relevant. But in general, the law will not prevent PAC-UK staff from sharing information with other practitioners if:
- Those likely to be affected consent;
- The public interest in safeguarding the child’s welfare overrides the need to keep the information confidential;
- Disclosure is required under a court order or other legal obligation.
Disclosure in the absence of consent
The disclosure of confidential information without consent or a court order may be justified in the public interest to prevent harm to others, especially regarding the protection of children.
The approach to confidential information should be the same whether any proposed disclosure is internally within one organisation or between agencies. Where it is determined that the child, or vulnerable adult, is, or maybe at risk of significant harm (see earlier definition) a referral to the relevant local authority must be made.
What if the duty is to a child or a young person?
A duty of confidence may be owed to a child or young person in their own right. A young person aged 16 or over, or a child aged between 12 and 15 who has the capacity to understand and make their own decisions, may give (or refuse) consent to disclosure. Otherwise a person with parental responsibility should consent on their behalf and must give consent where the child is under 12.
Safeguarding children entails making difficult and risky professional judgements and decisions. All PARCS staff involved must have access to advice and support, from peers, managers, and named and designated professionals.
Effective supervision is important to promoting good standards of practice and to supporting individual staff members. PARCS must ensure that staff fully understands their roles and responsibilities, and that practice is soundly based and consistent with Local Safeguarding Children Board and organisational procedures.
Supervision includes scrutinising and evaluating the work carried out, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the practitioner and providing coaching and development. Supervisors should be available to practitioners as an important source of advice and expertise and may be required to endorse judgements. Supervisors should record key case decisions on the Case Supervision form for inclusion in the Case File in line with the Recording Policy.
PARCS staff who come into contact with children must know of the predisposing factors and signs and indicators of child abuse. They must be able to exercise professional skill in terms of effective information sharing and the ability to analyse information, and must have the knowledge and skills to collaborate with other agencies and disciplines in order to safeguard the welfare of children. They will need a sound understanding of the legislative framework and the wider policy context with which they work, as well as a familiarity with local policy and procedures.
PARCS is responsible for ensuring that its staff are competent and confident to carry out their safeguarding responsibilities by ensuring they attend Local Safeguarding Board training and that this training is renewed on a 3 yearly basis. PARCS should also keep records of attendance at training.
PARCS expects all its services to have effective staff supervision and appraisal systems and procedures in place and effective systems for identifying and meeting training and development need.
As a minimum, all staff that come into contact with children or parents must have completed the Local Safeguarding Children Board’s basic requirements for child protection training. Those staff that work directly with children, or adults who are parents may also be required to complete further and/or demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge, skills and expertise in child protection, supported by on-going agency training.
Recruitment and selection of staff
In common with other agencies and services whose staff and volunteers work closely with children, PARCS must have policies and procedures in place to deter those who are unsuitable to work with children. Common features must include the following:
- Criminal record checks and further checks if the candidate has lived abroad (more details on DBS website);
- Checks of lists maintained by the Department of Health, the Department for Education, and the Disclosure and Barring Service of those deemed unsuitable to work with children1.
- Candidates to confirm identity and residency/eligibility to work in the UK; original passports and Home Office documentation to be seen by recruiter.
- Verifying authenticity of qualifications and references directly;
- Seeking a full employment history for prospective staff and reserving the right to approach any previous employer;
- Making appointments only after references and checks are obtained;
- Making all appointments to work with children subject to a probationary period;
Even the most careful selection process cannot identify all those who may pose a risk to children. Post-employment management and supervision must always be alert to indicators of untoward behaviour.
1 These checks are automatically undertaken by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)