Children and Family CarePolicy Statement
This policy is based on the Council's responsibilities under the Children Act 2004 specifically Sec 11 which requires all public bodies to ensure their functions are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and protect the welfare of children. It also deals with the Council's responsibilities to vulnerable adults in accordance with best practice.
South Bucks District Council (SBDC) is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all children and vulnerable adults to whom we provide services directly or indirectly and with whom we come into contact.Context
SBDC does not have a statutory responsibility for investigating child protection concerns, but does have a duty of care to protect and promote the welfare of children and young people. This guidance aims to help employees, casual workers, volunteers, Members and others make informed responses to issues and concerns.
The need to have a clear mechanism for reporting child protection concerns and issues is the primary focus of this document.
It is the Council's aim to help create a safe and positive environment for children and young people both in how we provide services and engage with local communities.
We have child protection procedures and good practice guidance for specific service areas including Youth and Cultural Services. The aim of this document is to provide an overarching framework for the Council as a whole to ensure consistency and good practice in how child protection issues should be responded to if they occur.
We will seek to ensure:
- Clear and prompt communication
- We work in partnership with other agencies
- Adherence to locally agreed policies and procedures for responding to child protection issues. Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Board has detailed multi-agency guidance in relation to child protection which can be accessed at www.buckscc.gov.uk (Opens new window to Bucks county council)
While different employees will have different levels of contact with children and young people, at different times, this guidance applies to all employees, casual workers, volunteers and Members and any other person providing services on behalf of the Council. Where reference is made to "employees", this includes paid staff, volunteers, agency and casual workers and contract personnel.Principles
This guidance is based on the following principles:
The welfare of children and vulnerable adults is paramount
Scope of the Policy
- All children and vulnerable adults have the right to protection from harm whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual identity.
- It is the responsibility of social workers within the Referral and Assessment team in Children and Families Social Care to investigate in conjunction with the police according to agreed protocols whether or not abuse has taken place, but it is everyone's responsibility to report concerns according to agreed procedures
- All incidents of poor practice and allegations or concerns should be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
- Confidentiality should be upheld in line with Data Protection and Human Rights legislation
The policy is in respect of the Council's responsibility towards:
- Children and young people legally defined as any person under the age of 18. From this point the terms child or children will be used to refer to this group.
- Vulnerable adults defined, for the purposes of this policy, as anyone who because of age, disability or illness may be in need of community care services and who may be unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.
- The employees of the Council who have dealings with children, young people and vulnerable adults and who are required to act in a position of trust and to act responsibly and within the law.
- The employees and Members of the Council who, while not required to act in a position of trust, will come into contact with members of these groups on a regular basis during the course of their work.
- Volunteers and other workers involved in the provision of Council services but not employed by the Council, including workers in organisations with which the Council has contracts for the delivery of services.It covers all the functions and services of the Council, its elected Members, staff and contractors.
The policy does not cover health and safety issues related to safeguarding children such as use of play equipment or provision of food at events.
Who is responsible for protecting children and vulnerable adults?
Responsibility for the implementation of and adherence to this policy lies at all levels of the Council.
Council Members are responsible for ensuring that the Council has a policy, which adequately provides protection for children and vulnerable adults in receipt of its services and for the regular review of this policy in the light of changes to legislation e.g. Data Protection Act, or new legislation or regulation.
Where the guidance states the employees should report any concerns to their Head of Service, Members should report any concerns to the Chief Executive.
Chief Executive has responsibility for ensuring all Council employees are aware of this policy and have regard to it.
Director of Services in his capacity as the Council's representative on the Children's Safeguarding Board has responsibility for ensuring the regular review of this policy.
Heads of Service are responsible for:
Personnel are responsible for:
- Identifying those services and posts that are likely to have an involvement with children and vulnerable adults.
- Ensuring that those people appointed by them to the Council, whose normal duties involve caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults are screened via the Criminal Records Bureau process at the appropriate level and are appropriately qualified and/or trained in working with these groups.
- Ensuring that all necessary procedures and practices are in place to provide adequate protection both for the individuals in these groups but also protection for the employees involved with them.
- Ensuring that employees, volunteers and other workers dealing with these groups are adequately trained and aware of their responsibilities in this area.
- Ensuring that external contractors delivering Council Services are aware of the Council's expectation that workers are aware of and abide by the standards of behaviour expected of Council employees.
- Ensuring that carers and/or parents of the children and vulnerable adults are aware that, in providing services, Council employees are not acting in local parentis.
- Ensuring that this policy is made available to carers and/or parents of the children and vulnerable adults to whom the Council is providing services.
- Ensuring that any evidence or complaint of abuse or lack of care is reported to the appropriate body e.g. Bucks County Council Social Care Child Protection or Adult Protection or the Police. Where there is a concern or allegation of child abuse against a member of staff or volunteer, the Designated Senior Manager for Allegations within the Council must be notified immediately. If for any reason this is not possible, direct contact should be made with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) based in Bucks County Council Social Care or the Police.
- Ensuring that employees and others do not work with children or vulnerable adults without a CRB check unless accompanied at all times by an employee who has received a clear check.
- Ensuring that proper records are kept of any incidents occurring within their service and that these are held securely and/or passed on to Personnel if the incident involves a member of staff.
- Working with other associated agencies to ensure the proper transfer of information relating to dealings with children and vulnerable adults, where necessary.
- Working with heads of Service in maintaining a record of those posts that are likely to work with children and vulnerable adults and identifying the level of involvement and the appropriate level of screening required.
- Ensuring that recruitment procedures are robust and that information pertinent to working with these groups is obtained during the recruitment procedures.
- Ensuring that all CRB police checks are carried out at the level required in respect of every job identified as working with children and vulnerable adults.
- Supporting Heads of Service in dealing with allegations of abuse or lack of care by staff.
What do I do if I think a child or vulnerable adult is in danger?
- All employees and particularly those working with children and vulnerable adults are responsible for:
- Ensuring that they are familiar with and understand the policies and procedures relating to their work with or in the vicinity of children and vulnerable adults.
- Ensuring that they feel confident in working within this environment and working with their managers to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to carry out their tasks in this context.
- Treating all those children and vulnerable adults with whom they come into contact while carrying out their work equally and with respect.
- Reporting to their line manager any concerns they may have about abuse or a lack of care of children and vulnerable adults either from other staff, from carers, parents or those in loco parentis or between members of the group.
- Volunteers, contractors and other workers are responsible for:
- Working with employees of the Council, to the same standard, in ensuring the safety and well-being of children and vulnerable adults within their scope.
- Participating in any training or development opportunities offered to them to improve their knowledge and skills in this area.
The Council believes that all children and vulnerable adults have the right to be safe, happy and healthy and deserve protection from abuse and will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith, reports a concern about abuse.
If you think a child or vulnerable adult is in immediate danger or a crime has been committed then always contact the police on 999. Report your action to your Head of Service afterwards (Heads of Service should report to Directors).
Otherwise discuss your concerns with your Head of Service. If you still have concerns, contact Bucks County Council Referral and Assessment Team contact centre 0845 3708090 or Adult Protection on 01494 732134 as soon as possible.
If your Head of Service does not agree with you that anything further needs to be done but you still have strong concerns that a child or vulnerable adult is in danger you should still contact Social Services.Definitions
Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or neglect that leads to injury or harm. It commonly occurs within a relationship of trust or responsibility and where there is an imbalance and an abuse of power.
Abuse can happen to a child regardless of their age, gender, race or ability. However, some children are potentially more vulnerable, for example because of a mental or physical disability. Bullying, racism and other types of discrimination are also forms of abuse.
The abuser may be a family member, someone known to the child, a member of staff or a stranger. An individual may abuse a child directly or may fail to prevent harm to a child. Abuse can occur in any situation, in a family environment or in a community setting.
Those services that come into regular and direct contact with children and young people have detailed procedures that highlight the possible indicators of abuseGood Practice Guidelines
Good practice guidance is intended to:-
- Promote the safety and well being of children and vulnerable adults
- To minimise the risks of a child or vulnerable adult being harmed
- Reduce the opportunities for abuse taking place
- To raise staff awareness of vulnerable and unacceptable practice
It would not be appropriate to go into detail about standards of behaviour. Those services specifically targeted at children and vulnerable adults have specific guidance and standards covering how they relate to and work with children and vulnerable adults. However, the Council seeks to promote a positive culture in which children and vulnerable adults are listened to, consulted and involved in service development and in which staff act as positive role models.Recruitment & Selection
The Council's intranet contains details of the policies and procedures with regard to safe recruitment and selection practices. This guidance is designed to minimise the opportunities for unsuitable people to gain access to work with children and vulnerable adults. Further advice can be sought from the Personnel Unit.Management & Training
Staff engaged in roles that have direct contact with children and vulnerable adults, will be made aware of relevant policies and procedures relating to child protection and will be offered child protection awareness training. Ongoing management and training will ensure that staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities and have the opportunity to discuss and review performance standards and development needs.
Responding to Allegations or Suspicions
It is possible that where staff come into contact with children and vulnerable adults in the course of their duties, welfare protection issues may arise that require an appropriate response.
Concerns may arise in a variety of ways, including:
- A member of staff may be concerned that a child or vulnerable adult they come into contact with in the course of their work has been or is at risk of being abused
- A child or vulnerable adult discloses abuse to a member of staff
- A member of staff may receive information from the public that a child or vulnerable adult is at risk
There is a responsibility on all staff to report any concerns in order that the appropriate agencies can make inquiries and take any action necessary to protect a child or vulnerable adult.
In all of the above situations, staff should:-
- Record their concerns using the record sheet at Appendix A and take the following actions:
- Report to the Social Care Referral & Assessment Team in the event of a specific allegation of abuse or the Police in an emergency where a child is in immediate danger or advice is sought from the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline in the event of concerns that do not involve a specific allegation.
- Any action must be taken as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours of the concern being raised.
- If information is incomplete, e.g. information relating to the identity or address of a child or vulnerable adult, then advice should be sought from Social Care or the NSPCC about appropriate action.
- At the same time or as soon as possible after the referral is made, the member of staff should inform their direct line manager who should take responsibility for notifying their Head of Service or Director as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours of the referral being made. The manager should ensure that appropriate support is provided to the member of staff and ensure that the appropriate actions have been taken.
- If there is any concern about appropriate action, this must be shared with the Head of Service or Director and relevant advice sought without causing unnecessary delay.
Any allegation of abuse may lead to a criminal investigation, so any advice provided by Social Care or the Police must be acted upon.
Any allegation must be taken seriously and reported to the appropriate agency and confirmed in writing. The information should include the following if known:
- Name, age and date of birth of the child
- Home address and telephone number
- Nature of allegation(s) focusing on factual information including dates and times
- Distinction between fact, opinion and hearsay
- Description of any injuries or behaviour
- Account of what happened including any explanation(s) offered
- Account of any conversation with the child, including any questions asked
- Any contact with parents/carers
- Name, address of alleged abuser
- Name of person contacted
- Date of contact
- Name and contact details of person(s) lodging the concern and making referral
- If a child or vulnerable adult discloses abuse, the following general guidance should be followed:-
- Listen to the individual without interrupting
- Try to respond calmly and reassure the individual that they have done the right thing in talking to you but do not promise to keep what they tell you a secret
- Do not promise anything you cannot keep, for example, that everything will be okMake sure any questions are kept to a minimum but if questions are necessary, ensure they are open and not leading
- Do not make judgements, assumptions or give opinions
Those services that have regular contact with children and vulnerable adults have more detailed guidance on how to communicate with children and vulnerable adults who share concerns about possible abuseAllegations Against Staff
Concerns may arise about staff any concerns about a member of staff or volunteer must be reported to the Designated Senior Officer (DSO) for Allegations within the Council as soon as possible and in any event within 24 hours of the concerns being identified. Advice must be sought from the Personnel Unit.It is important that the DSO takes immediate advice from Social Care, LADO and/or the Police so that any action does not jeopardise either an investigation or the person involved.
Consideration will be given to temporary suspension or transfer to other duties, whilst any investigation takes place. Advice should also be sought from the LADO on this matter.
With any concern that involve potential poor practice of a member of staff or an allegation of abuse against a member of staff, consideration should be given to potential misconduct issues in line with the Council's Disciplinary Procedure. This Procedure can be found in the Employment Reference Handbook or on the Intranet. The timing and process of any internal investigation will depend on whether any external investigation is taking place. Child Protection and/or Police investigations must take precedence
All action must be consistent with Bucks Safeguarding Children Board guidance.
Whatever the decision or action, the welfare of the child or vulnerable adult must come first.
If child or vulnerable adult protection concerns are raised, confidentiality must not be guaranteed. If an allegation is made that indicates that a child or vulnerable adult is being harmed or is at risk of harm, then the person making the allegation should understand that the information will be shared with the appropriate agencies on a need to know basis.
Access to Advice and Support
As part of our duty of care towards the children and vulnerable adults who come into contact with us, we will ensure that children and vulnerable adults are directed towards appropriate advice and support.
We will ensure that staff who come across child abuse situations in the course of their work know where to get advice and support.Monitoring and Review
The effectiveness and impact of this guidance will be monitored and reviewed by the Council every 3 years or more regularly if legislation and/or good practice changes.There will be annual checks to ensure that:-
- Any incidents and/or allegations of abuse are referred.
- Detailed procedures and systems specifically related to particular services are understood and are being followed.
- All new staff receive child/vulnerable adult protection awareness training if it is appropriate to their role. The provision of child protection awareness training will be reviewed in order to monitor its effectiveness.
- All necessary pre-employment checks are carried out for staff working directly with or providing services to children and vulnerable adults.
For more information please contact Health and Social care on:
Tel: 01895 837200