Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
1) Key contacts.
2) Minibeasts Statement of Principles.
4) The purpose of the policy.
5) Aims and Objectives
7) Child Protection Procedures,
• What is child protection?
• What is significant harm?
• Purpose of these procedures.
8) Roles and responsibilities
9) What is Child Abuse.
• Physical abuse.
• Emotional abuse.
• Social abuse.
10) Recognising child abuse.
11) Possible indicators of the four types of abuse.
12) Reactions to abuse.
13) Specific forms of abuse and safe guarding issues.
14) Immediate danger or at risk of significant harm
15) responding to the child who discloses abuse
16) Safer Working Practice
Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
Tel: 07429 599 958
Note: If a child is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, a referral should be made immediately to children’s social care and / or the Police (999). Anyone can make a referral. Where referrals are not made by the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the DSL should be informed as soon as possible that the referral has been made.
The contact numbers below can be used for making direct referrals.
Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm
The LADO Service manages allegations against individuals who work or volunteer with children in Surrey. If you have a concern regarding someone who works with children please contact the LADO on 0300 123 1650* or LADO@surreycc.gov.uk.
Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA)
The C-SPA is based at County Hall and acts as the front door to children’s services in Surrey.
The C-SPA provides residents and people who work with children in Surrey with direct information, advice and guidance about where and how to find the appropriate support for children and families.
Availability: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
Phone: 0300 470 9100
Out of hours phone: 01483 517898 to speak to our emergency duty team.
Email: emails are dealt with during normal office hours
For concerns for a child or young person: email@example.com
For concerns for an adult: firstname.lastname@example.org
SMS: 07527 182 861 (for the deaf or hard of hearing)
VRS: Sign Language Video Relay Service
Fax number: 01483 519862
Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership (SSCP)
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm
The Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership co-ordinates how children are safeguarded and protected from harm. The SSCP is based in Leatherhead.
The Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership website provides guidance and protocols for professionals as well as details of child protection training courses available.
Request for Support Form
If you require support from Surrey Children’s Services, please download and complete the Request for Support Form on our website:
SSCB Support Team: 01372 833330
SSCB Chair: 01372 833378
SSCB Training: 01372 833330 or email@example.com
SECTION B: Statement of Safeguarding Principles.
Minibeast statement of principle.
Minibeasts recognises that the welfare of the child (throughout this document, ‘child’ refers to a young person under the age of 18) is paramount. We take extremely seriously our duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people in our care, as well as all adults working in or visiting this environment, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity.
Minibeasts will act in accordance with ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (September 2020) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in our care.
The Director is responsible for ensuring that Minibeasts meet their statutory responsibilities for safeguarding and that all policies and procedures are in place and effective.
The policy is written taking into account:
Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2020) [KCSiE]
Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018)
What To Do If You Are Worried A Child Is Being Abused (March 2015)
Revised Prevent Duty guidance for England and Wales(April 2019)
ISBA guidance (http://www.the isba.org.uk)
Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (July 2018) and KCSIE (September 2020) define safeguarding as:
protecting children from maltreatment;
preventing impairment of children’s mental or physical health or development;
ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
All children have the right to be safeguarded from harm or exploitation whatever their:
health or disability
gender or sexual orientation or identity
race, religion, belief or first language
political or immigration status
The purpose of this policy is to:
afford protection for all children as well as adults involved in the minibeasts community; enable all staff and volunteers at minibeasts to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
promote a culture which makes minibeasts a safe place to learn and live.
This Policy applies to the entire setting, including toddler stay and plays, EYFS, after school and holiday clubs, all staff and anyone working on behalf of Minibeasts.
Parents are informed of the policy and procedures through the website, and a hard copy of the policy is also available on request from Michelle Stokes. The Safeguarding Policy and Children Protection Procedures are reviewed at regular intervals by the DSLs.
Aims and Objectives
Safeguarding children and young people and promoting their well-being is more than just child protection. In order to safeguard children and young people and ensure their personal development, we will have safeguarding at the heart of our ethos and purpose, striving to embed it within our practice at all times and in all areas of our community.
Directors, staff (including temporary) and regular volunteers understand the importance of taking appropriate action and working in partnership with children, their parents/carers and other agencies in order to safeguard children and promote their welfare. Everyone in Minibeasts shares an objective to help keep children and young people safe by:
creating and maintaining a safe learning environment, promoting safe practice and eliminating unsafe practice.
preventing unsuitable people from working with children and young people.
identifying where there are child welfare concerns, taking action to address these, in partnership with other agencies if appropriate.
contributing to effective partnership between all those involved with providing services for children.
developing children’s understanding, awareness, and resilience.
All adults working with or on behalf of children have a responsibility to protect children.
We will endeavour to safeguard children, young people and adults by:
acting at all times according to what is in the best interests of the child;
valuing children, listening to and respecting them and involving them in decisions which affect them;
keeping an open mind at all times, and adopting an ‘it could happen here approach;
never tolerating bullying, homophobic behaviour, racism, sexism or any other forms of discrimination, affording all individuals a sense of being valued
keeping up to date with changes in government guidance, and in changes and evolutions in the risks that can put children at risk of harm;
appointing a senior member of staff as the Designated Safeguarding Lead
making sure all staff and volunteers are aware of and committed to the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and Procedures and also understand their individual responsibility to take action, including an understanding of the local early help process;
identifying any concerns early and providing appropriate help to prevent them from escalating;
sharing information about concerns with relevant agencies, and involving children and their parents/carers appropriately;
acknowledging and actively promoting that multi-agency working is often the best way to support children and their families;
keeping clear, accurate and contemporaneous safeguarding and child protection records, ensuring they are kept securely and ensuring that these are transferred immediately and securely as and when a child leaves;
recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made in accordance with statutory guidance and legal requirements.
dealing appropriately with any allegations/concerns about the behaviour of staff, including supply staff and volunteers, in accordance with the process set out in statutory guidance;
Developing positive partnerships and nurturing a commitment to open and honest relationships with parents and carers.
Child protection procedures
What is Child Protection?
Child protection refers to the activity, which is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.
What is significant harm?
The Children Act 1989, Section 47, introduced the concept of significant harm, that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention by statutory agencies in family life in the best interests of children. There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. Sometimes it might be a single traumatic event but more often, it is a compilation of significant events that damage the child’s physical and psychological development. Decisions about significant harm are complex and require discussion with the statutory agencies and safeguarding partnerships (the local authority, clinical commissioning groups and the Police).
Purpose of these Procedures
These procedures explain what action should be taken if there are concerns that a child is or might be suffering harm. A ‘child’ is a person under 18 years but the principles of these procedures apply also to vulnerable young adults over 18 years.
Responsibilities and Roles
All adults in the setting have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children by taking appropriate action. This includes taking action where there are child protection concerns.
What is Child Abuse?
It is generally accepted that there are four main forms of abuse. The following definitions are based on references in Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018).
Physical abuse, as well as being a result of an act of commission (doing something), can also be caused through omission or the failure to act to protect. A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional mistreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of mistreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, upskirting, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and/or females, by adults and by other young people. This includes people from all different walks of life.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance use. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food and clothing, shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment, failure to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of adequate care-takers, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.\
It is accepted that in all forms of abuse there are elements of emotional abuse, and that some children are subjected to more than one form of abuse at any one time.
Recognising Child Abuse – Signs and Symptoms
Child abuse can and does occur both within a child’s family and in institutional or community settings.
Children may be abused by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). All staff must have an entirely open mind as to the potential risk of abuse posed to all children.
Safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside the setting. All staff, but especially the DSL, should be considering the context within which such incidents and/or behaviours occur. Wider environmental factors / extra-familial harms take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple harms including, but not limited to, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and serious youth violence. Children’s social care assessments should consider such factors so it is important that we provide as much information as possible as part of the referral process.
staff are in contact with children during the day and are in a strong position to detect possible abuse. They must not think that by voicing concern they are necessarily starting procedures.
The criteria should be that they have ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’ under the Children Act 1989.
Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2020) is clear: ‘All staff should be aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect so that they are able to identify cases of children who may be in need of help or protection’.
Recognising child abuse is not always easy, and it is not the responsibility of school staff to decide whether or not child abuse has definitely taken place or if a child is at significant risk. They do, however, have a clear responsibility to act if they have a concern about a child’s welfare or safety or if a child talks about (discloses) abuse. They should maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ at all times.
Possible Indicators of each of the four
kinds of abuse:
The following information is not designed to turn school staff into experts but to help them to be more alert to the signs of possible abuse. The examples below do not form an exhaustive list; DSLs and other staff will find it helpful to refer to the inter-agency safeguarding procedures on the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board website for more detailed information.
bruising in children who are not independently mobile;
bruises that are seen away from bony prominences;
bruises to the face, back, stomach, arms, buttocks, ears and hands;
multiple bruises in clusters;
multiple bruises of uniform shape;
bruises that carry the imprint of an implement used, hand marks, fingertips or a belt buckle.
Although bruising is the most common injury in physical abuse, fatal non-accidental head injury and non- accidental fractures can occur without bruising. Any child who has unexplained signs of pain or illness must be seen promptly by a doctor.
Other physical signs of abuse can include:
adult bite marks;
Changes in behaviour, which can also indicate physical abuse:
fear of parents being approached for an explanation;
aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts;
flinching when approached or touched;
reluctance to get changed, for example wearing long sleeves in hot weather;
running away from home.
Emotional abuse can be difficult to measure, and often children who appear otherwise well cared for may be emotionally abused by being taunted, put down or belittled. They may receive little or no love, affection or attention from their parents or carers. Children who live in households where there is domestic violence often suffer emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can also take the form of children not being allowed to mix/play with other children.
The physical signs of emotional abuse can include:
a failure to thrive or grow, particularly if the child puts on weight in other circumstances, e.g. in hospital or away from parents’ care
sudden speech disorders
developmental delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress.
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate emotional abuse include:
neurotic behaviour, e.g. sulking, hair twisting, rocking, being unable to play, fear of making mistakes, self-harm
fear of parents being approached
Adults who use children to meet their own sexual needs abuse both girls and boys of all ages, including infants and toddlers. Children can also be sexually abused by other children (i.e. those under 18).
Usually, in cases of sexual abuse it is the child’s behaviour which may cause concern, although physical signs can also be present. In all cases, children who talk about sexual abuse do so because they want it to stop. It is important, therefore, that they are listened to, taken seriously and appropriate action taken promptly.
The physical signs of sexual abuse can include:
pain or itching in the genital/anal areas
bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas
sexually transmitted disease
vaginal discharge or infection
discomfort when walking or sitting down
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate sexual abuse can include:
sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour, e.g. becoming aggressive or withdrawn
fear of being left with a specific person or group of people
running away from home
sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or developmental level
sexual drawings or language
eating problems such as overeating or anorexia
self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts
saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about
alcohol / substance / drug use
suddenly having unexplained sources of money
not being allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence)
acting in a sexually explicit way towards adults or other children
Neglect can be a difficult form of abuse to recognise, yet have some of the most lasting and damaging effects on children and young people.
The physical signs of neglect can include:
constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children
being constantly dirty or smelly
loss of weight, or being constantly underweight
Inappropriate dress for the conditions
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate neglect can include:
complaining of being tired all the time
not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
having few friends
mentioning being left alone or unsupervised
Reactions to Abuse
A child may experience a range of reactions to abuse, including some or all of the following:
A feeling of shame or guilt. ‘It must have been my fault’, ‘I’m bad’;
A feeling that s/he is dirty – spoilt – degraded;
Embarrassment: ‘I’m sure everyone knows’;
A desire to continually talk about the abuse and to gain reassurance;
Dislike of being touched and touching others;
Loss of confidence;
Trouble sleeping, nightmares;
Hatred of self and of his or her body;
Inability to complete school work; or
Inability to relate to other children or adults
Many of the behaviours indicated are an attempt by the child to express feelings that he/she cannot express in words and are a response/reaction to abuse. Difficulties may continue for a long time after the abuse and the child may need specialist support.
It is important that adults in settings recognise that providing compensatory care might address the immediate and presenting issue but could cover up or inhibit the recognition of neglect in all aspects of a child’s life. Compensatory care is defined as ‘providing a child or young person, on a regular basis, help or assistance with basic needs with the aim of redressing deficits in parental care’. This might involve, for example, providing each day a substitute set of clothing because those from home are dirty, or showering a child whose personal hygiene or presentation is such that it is affecting his/her interaction with peers. It does not include isolated or irregular support such as giving lunch money or washing a child who has had an ‘accident’. If any adult in this setting finds s/he is regularly attending to one or more aspects of a child’s basic needs then this will prompt a discussion with the DSL.
The general rule is: the younger the child, the higher the risk in terms of their immediate health. However, serious neglect of older children and adolescents is often overlooked, on the assumption that they have the ability to care for themselves and have made a ‘choice’ to neglect themselves. Lack of engagement with services should be seen as a potential indicator of neglect.
staff should be mindful of the above and discuss any concerns with the DSL who will take the appropriate action.
Specific forms of abuse and
The following overview should be read in conjunction with Annex A from Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2020, which includes important and detailed information about specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues. Please note that there have been significant updates to Annex A in KCSIE 2020, which all staff must be aware of.
Underage sexual activity;
Peer on peer / child on child abuse, which should never be tolerated or passed off as “banter” or “part of growing up”;
Bullying (including cyber-bullying) which should be treated as a child protection concern when there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. This is addressed as an ongoing issue as outlined in the schools’ Anti-Bullying Policy;
Sexual harassment (sexual and sexualized comments, sexual ‘jokes’ or taunting, physical behavior, online sexual harassment) and sexual violence (rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault); whatever the response, it should be under-pinned by the principle that sexual violence and sexual harassment is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Sexting or youth produced sexual imagery; significant further detail and guidance can be found in the guidance offered by UKCCIS (The UK Council for Child Internet Safety).
Upskirting (taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear) to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm. It is now a criminal offence (The Voyeurism Act (commonly known as the Upskirting Act), 12 April 2019). Anyone of any gender can be a victim.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): CSE is a form of abuse and consent cannot be given. It is typified by some form of power imbalance in favour of those perpetrating the abuse (age, gender, sexual identity, cognitive ability, physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources).
Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence. Advice is provided in the Home Office’s Preventing youth violence and gang involvement and its Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults; county lines guidance.
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas [within the UK], using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. Further information on the signs of a child’s involvement in county lines is available in guidance published by the Home Office.
So-called ‘honour-based’ abuse encompasses incidents or crimes, which have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community, including female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and practices such as breast ironing. Females are predominantly, but not exclusively, the victims and the violence is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family or community members.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the UK. Section 5B of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) places a statutory duty upon teachers, social workers and healthcare professionals to report to the police where they discover that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18. Those failing to report such cases may face disciplinary sanctions.
Forced Marriage is illegal and is not the same as arranged marriage.
Preventing radicalization and the Prevent Duty (extremism, radicalization and terrorism).
Online risks of abuse, including ‘sexting’: more detail can be found in the Online Safety Policy.
Children Missing from Education: A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect. More detailed information is available in the Pupil Absence and Children Missing from Education Policy.
Children who are disabled. Research shows that children who are disabled are especially vulnerable to abuse and adults who work with them need to be vigilant and take extra care when interpreting apparent signs of abuse or neglect.
Children with Special Educational Needs can face additional safeguarding challenges, including additional barriers (such as communication barriers for example) when recognizing abuse and neglect. In brief, where there are concerns of a safeguarding nature, these should always be explored fully and in appropriate depth; these concerns should never be explained away nor discarded as a result of a child’s SEN or disabilities.
Domestic Abuse and Operation Encompass: All children can witness and be adversely affected by domestic abuse. The DSL should be aware of Operation Encompass which operates to help police and schools work together to provide help to children who are victims or witnesses of domestic abuse.
All safeguarding concerns about children should be discussed with the Designated Safeguarding Lead, or in their absence, the Deputy DSL.
Immediate danger or at risk of
If any member of staff believes a child to be in immediate danger or at risk of harm, they should refer this to children’s social care and/or the police immediately. They do not need to liaise with the DSL before making the referral. The safety and wellbeing of the child is paramount.
Anyone can make a referral to Social Care and/or the Police, not just the Designated Safeguarding Leads. Having made a referral directly, the member of staff must then inform the DSL that the referral has been made at the earliest opportunity.
Effective use of early help is the most effective way of promoting the welfare of children and reducing the risk of problems escalating.
All staff must be aware of children who are at increased risk and where early help may be required. This includes children in the following circumstances, as indicated in Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018), accessible here, pages 13-15:
A child who:
is disabled and has specific additional needs;
has special educational needs;
is a young carer;
is showing signs of engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour;
is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home;
is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation;
is at risk of being radicalised or exploited;
is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as substance abuse, adult mental health problems and domestic abuse;
is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves;
has returned home to their family from care;
is a privately fostered child;
is showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect.
All staff may have a role to play in the early help process. This includes:
Identifying emerging problems;
Liaising with the Designated Safeguarding Lead;
Sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment;
In some cases, acting as the lead professional in undertaking an early help assessment.
Where the setting assesses that early help might be necessary, contact will be made with the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership in order to seek further guidance and for an early help assessment to be carried out.
In order to be most effective, this early help assessment should take place with the agreement of the child and their parents or carers, and with all relevant professionals.
Local authority children’s social care should set out the process for how this assessment will happen.
During the early help process, the DSL will support the staff member acting as lead professional in liaising with other agencies and setting up an inter-agency assessment, as appropriate. When early help support is in place, this will be kept under constant review by the lead professional and DSL. If the child’s situation does not appear to be improving a referral to children’s social care must be given consideration.
Responding to the child who discloses
(i.e. talks about) abuse
It can take a good deal of courage for a child to talk to an adult about abuse. The child may have to betray a person who is close to them and loved by them and they are risking a great deal in the hope you will believe what they say.
Remain calm, approachable and receptive; make it clear that you are taking them seriously; avoid showing shock or disbelief.
Listen carefully to what is said, without interrupting. There is no need to find a ‘witness’, as this could inhibit the child from saying more.
Ask questions for the purposes of clarification only, and avoid asking leading questions or pressing for more information. Questions should be asked in an open manner (remember TED: Tell me, Explain, Describe). It is important to bear in mind that an allegation of child abuse or neglect may lead to a criminal investigation so it is essential that staff do not ask a child leading questions or attempt to investigate the abuse.
Reassure them that they are right to tell you and that they should not feel guilty.
Find an appropriate opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others, i.e. do not promise to keep the matter confidential or a ‘secret’.
What not to do
Do not make assumptions.
Do not make negative comments about the alleged abuser.
Do not make any promises you cannot keep including keeping the information secret.
Do not share concerns with the parents; if appropriate, this will be done by the DSL after a discussion with Children’s Services.
Where physical injuries have been observed, note these carefully but they should not be photographed.
The type and location of the injury can be noted in CPOMS on the body map function at a later stage. The staff member will not ask to see injuries that are said to be on an intimate part of the child’s body; if appropriate, draw a diagram to indicate the position of any bruising or injury, to help the child explain.
What to do next:
Ensure the child is safe; if you feel that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, contact social services and / or the Police immediately.
Make an immediate, careful record of what was said using the child’s words, in handwritten format. Record facts not opinions or interpretations, as well as any noticeable non-verbal behaviour, noting the date, time, any names mentioned, and to whom the information was given. Ensure that the record is signed and dated.
Report the disclosure or indicators of abuse to the DSL immediately and without delay, who will then contact social services or other external agencies.
Pass all hand-written records to the DSL immediately. – NO copies should be retained by the member of staff or volunteer. This includes the original notes as this evidence may be needed by a court. Records should be kept by the DSL in a secure, designated file.
What happens next:
The advice of the LADO will be sought by the DSL about when communication with the individual involved and the parents/carers involved should take place and by whom. The DSL will decide whether to contact parents at this stage, judging whether doing so is likely to place the child at risk of harm from their actions or reactions – for example in circumstances where there are concerns that a serious crime such as sexual abuse, domestic violence or induced illness has taken place. The reason for the decision not to contact parents first will be recorded in the child’s child protection file.
Where there is no disclosure by a child but concerns are accumulating, such as in relation to neglect or emotional abuse, the DSL will ensure that all information is brought together and that s/he makes a professional judgement about whether to refer to outside agencies.
It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. That is a task for the DSL and Child Protection Agencies, following a referral from the DSL.
A member of staff who reports concerns to the DSL should expect some feedback, although confidentiality might mean in some cases that this is not detailed. If the member of staff is not happy with the outcome s/he can press for reconsideration and if following this, s/he still believes the correct action has not been taken, can refer the concerns directly to social workers.
Dealing with a disclosure from a child, and a child protection case in general, is likely to be a stressful experience. The member of staff/volunteer should, therefore, consider seeking support for him/herself and discuss this with the DSL.
What to do if you suspect a child is being abused (without a disclosure):
Discuss your concerns immediately and without delay with the DSL.
Do not share concerns with parents. This will be done by the DSL after a discussion with Children’s Services if so advised.
Further advice for all staff dealing with children can be found in the government guidance document, What to do if you are worried a child is being abused (March 2015).
Response from Children’s Services Family Support (Social Care) to a referral
Once a referral is received by the relevant team, a manager will decide on the next course of action within one working day. When there is concern that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm, this will be decided more quickly and a strategy discussion held with the Police and Health professionals and other agencies as appropriate (section 47 Children Act 1989). The DSL should be told within three working days of the outcome of the referral. If this does not happen s/he will contact the duty worker again.
All assessments should be planned and co-ordinated by a qualified social worker. They should be holistic, involving other professionals, parents/carers and the children themselves as far as practicable. Assessments should show analysis, be focused on outcomes and usually take no longer than 45 working days from the point of referral. School staff have a responsibility to contribute fully to the assessment.
The process of the investigation is determined by the needs of the case, but the child/young person will always be seen as part of that process and sometimes without parents’ knowledge or permission. On occasions, this will mean the child/young person is jointly interviewed by the Police and social workers, sometimes at a special suite where a video-recording of the interview is made.
The Child Protection Conference
If, following the Section 47 enquiries, the concerns are substantiated and the child is judged to be at risk of significant harm, a Child Protection Conference (CPC) will normally be convened. The CPC must be held within 15 days of the first strategy discussion and staff will be invited to attend – normally the DSL. This person will produce a written report in the correct format. This will be shared with the child/young person and his/her family before the conference is held. A copy will also be sent to the person chairing the initial CPC at least 24 hours in advance.
If the DSL disagrees with the decisions made by social workers regarding the outcome of the referral and/or the conclusions of the assessment senior managers particularly if the child’s situation does not appear to be improving, they must raise their concerns immediately.
Child Protection raises issues of confidentiality that must be clearly understood by all staff/volunteers.
If a child confides in a member of staff/volunteer and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the member of staff/volunteer tells the child in a manner appropriate to the child’s age/stage of development that they cannot promise complete confidentiality – instead they must explain that they may need to pass information to other professionals to help keep the child or other children safe.
Staff/volunteers who receive information about children and their families in the course of their work should share that information only within appropriate professional contexts.
All staff have a responsibility to share relevant information about the protection of children with other professionals, particularly the investigative agencies where appropriate.
Responding to concerns reported by parents or others in the community
Occasionally parents or other people in the local community tell staff about an incident or accumulation of concerns they have about the family life of a child who is attending minibeasts.
If the incident or concern relates to child protection, the information cannot be ignored, even if there are suspicions about the motives for making the report. Members of staff will therefore pass the information to the DSL in the usual way and without delay.
It is preferable if the parent / community member who witnessed or knows about the concerns or incident makes a call to Family Support (Social Care) themselves as they will be better able to answer any questions. They can ask for their name not to be divulged if a visit is made to the family. The DSL will advise accordingly and later confirm that this referral has been made.
If the parent / community member refuses to make the referral, the DSL will clarify that s/he has a responsibility to do so and will also need to pass on to social workers how s/he is aware of the information.
This process also applies to parents / community members who are also staff. As professionals who work with children, they cannot be anonymous when making the referral but can ask for the situation to be managed sensitively and, if necessary, for their identity to be withheld from the family if it will cause difficulties in their private life.
Responding to allegations or concerns about staff or volunteers
All children and adults have a fundamental right to be protected from harm.
Minibeasts have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and create and maintain a safe learning environment (Section 157 of the Education Act 2002). We should identify where there are child welfare concerns and take action to address them, in partnership with other organisations where appropriate, and in accordance with local inter-agency procedures.
Rigorous recruitment and selection procedures will mean that that there are relatively few allegations against or concerns about staff or volunteers. However, if a member of staff has any reason to believe that another adult has acted inappropriately or abused a child or young person, they must take immediate action by reporting to the DSL. Even though it may seem difficult to believe that a colleague may be unsuitable to work with children, the risk is far too serious for any member of staff to dismiss such a suspicion without taking action.
If the allegation/concern is about the DSL, the person with concerns will contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) in the Local Authority Safeguarding and Standards Team. The DSL must not be informed that the allegation has been made.
In all cases of allegations against staff or volunteers, DSL will contact the LADO and follow the correct procedures as set out in the policy. This must comply with Part Four of Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2020).
The procedure aims to ensure that all allegations are dealt with fairly, consistently and quickly and in a way that provides protection for the child, whilst supporting the person who is the subject of the allegation.
Safer Working Practice
All adults who come into contact with children will behave at all times in a professional manner which secures the best outcomes for children and also prevents allegations being made.
Any suspicion or concern that a child or young person may be suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm, MUST be acted on immediately. Doing nothing is not an option.
Any suspicion or concerns will be reported without delay to the DSL.
Anyone can make a referral to Social Care or to the Police, not just the Designated Safeguarding Leads.
Having made a referral directly, the member of staff must then inform the DSL at the earliest opportunity that the referral has been made.
It is important that all members of staff are aware that the person who first encounters a case of alleged or suspected abuse is not responsible for making a judgement about whether or not abuse has occurred and should not conduct an ‘investigation’ to establish whether the child is telling the truth. That is a task for social workers and the Police following a referral to them of concern about a child. The role of staff is to act promptly on the information received.