Belmont Playcare is committed to safeguarding the well-being of children and promoting their rights.
This policy outlines the protection of children by identifying clear instructions in accordance with legislative framework of The Children (NI) Order 1995, taking into consideration the 5 main principles of the order the first being:
“the welfare of the child is paramount”
Obligations to safeguard children and young people and promote their welfare are contained in both international and domestic law, as listed at the end of this policy.
As an organisation we must be aware of how the legislation applies to Belmont Playcare in working to safeguard children.
We in Belmont Playcare are committed to providing a safe environment where children are protected from harm. The staff, volunteers and students accept and recognise their responsibilities to develop an awareness of issues that may cause children harm. We will comply with Health and Social Care Trust on Child Protection and will appoint designated persons to deal with Child Protection issues, (see Procedures for Reporting Concerns).
In accordance with Trust guidelines (Minimum Standards for Childminding & Day-care for children under Age 12 –Version 3 October 2017), Our Duty to Care and Getting It Right, we will endeavour to safeguard children by:
Building a culture of safety in which children are protected from abuse and harm in all areas of our service delivery.
Making all staff and parents/carers aware of our safeguarding policy and procedures.
Providing adequate and appropriate staffing resources to meet the needs of the children.
Informing candidates of the need to carryout “enhanced disclosure” checks with the current up to date vetting procedures before posts can be confirmed. No person will be placed in a position (either paid or unpaid) which involves contact without being properly and effectively vetted.
The setting adheres to the Health and Social Care Trust requirements in respect of references and criminal record checks for staff students, trainees and volunteers.
Belmont Playcare adheres to the Recruitment of ex-Offenders Policy. Applicants are made aware of the Access NI Code of Practice. Applicants information is handled and stored in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. Access NI Privacy Notice https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/publications/ani-privacy .
Students, trainees and volunteers do not work unsupervised.
Belmont adheres to the relevant guidelines in respect of any person who is dismissed from our employment or resigns in circumstances that would otherwise have led to dismissal for reasons of child protection concern.
Belmont has a procedure for recording the details of visitors to the setting.
There are security steps in place to ensure that we have control over who comes into the setting so that no unauthorised person has unsupervised access to the children.
To minimise the chance of any misunderstanding the following procedure will be applied: -
If a child sustains an injury whilst in our care, we will record it in the accident book as soon as possible. When the child is collected, we will inform whoever picks the child up about the injury and ensure that they also sign the accident book.
If a child arrives with an injury sustained elsewhere, we will ask for an explanation and will record this in the accident book with the explanation given.
We will try to avoid situations where an adult is left alone in a room with a child. If this does occur, we will make sure that the door is left open and there are other people around.
We will avoid doing things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves, wherever possible.
We will ensure all adults working in the Playcare are aware of Belmont Playcare’s Code of Conduct.
Staff and volunteers will receive an induction with the coordinator detailing tasks and limits placed on them, as newcomers to the Playcare, before working with the children.
Staff will attend child protection training and update this on a regular basis.
Appropriate adult/child ratios will be maintained, and adults will not be left alone for extended periods of time with individual children or small groups.
The layout of the room and outdoor area will permit constant supervision of the children.
Appropriate activities to develop children’s self-esteem with regard to self-protection will be provided.
We will take up references, including one from the candidate’s last employer, and will always question any gaps in employment history.
We encourage an open-door ethos, to enable staff to talk to the coordinator and or Board of Trustees if they have concerns about the conduct of any of their colleagues.
Responding Appropriately To Suspicions of Abuse
All those working with children are aware that abuse of children can take different forms as listed in this policy.
We will do this by:
Using appropriate strategies e.g. listening to the child and not ask leading questions in order to support children who may make a disclosure of abuse.
By observing children on a regular basis and noting any significant changes in behaviour that may give cause for concern.
By keeping appropriate records: Making a dated record of the details of the concern (cause of concern form) and discuss what to do with the settings designated officer. The information will be stored securely.
We understand that information and documentation may require to be transferred to relevant organisations and will do so strictly confidentially.
By keeping a pastoral care file. Within this file a note book will be kept logging adult/staff reported child protection Issues. The pastoral care file will be kept in a locked cupboard.
In line with confidentiality guidelines and the Data Protection Act and public interest disclosure order.
We will keep child protection records until a child’s 21st birthday, in case of possible legal action. After this time the information will be disposed of appropriately. This information will be kept locked away with only designated persons able to gain access to it.
Belmont will refer concerns to the Gateway team and co-operate fully in any subsequent investigation.
The designated officer will use the Cause for Concern form and complete an Understanding the Needs of Children in Northern Ireland (UNOCINI) form if Gateway investigates the concern, within 24 hours.
We will also contact our Early Years Link Social Worker/ Early Years Team Duty Officer.
Where a child is already known to Health and Social Care Trust and has a social worker, we will contact them directly.
Where a child makes a disclosure to a member of staff.
Where a child makes a comment to a member of staff that gives cause for concern (disclosure), or a member of staff observes signals that give cause for concern, such as significant changes in behaviour, deterioration in general wellbeing, unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse or neglect, a member of staff will:
Listen to the child without pressing for information or asking leading questions. Will offer reassurance and give assurance that he/she will take action.
The staff member will inform their session leader and then designated officer.
The responsibility rests with the individual to inform the correct persons so action is taken as soon as possible on the day that the concern is identified.
Recording suspicions of abuse and disclosures
- Record real-time notes, direct speech as soon as possible
- Record on Cause of Concern Forms found in session register (accurate record of all actions,
Record of name, age, date and time of observation or disclosure. Exact words spoken by the child, then names of who reported to within organisation).
These recordings are signed and dated and kept securely and confidentially.
Belmont Playcare staffs are not responsible for deciding or investigating whether or not significant harm/abuse has occurred. This is a task for statutory organisations (Gateway).
There is no absolute definition of ‘significant harm’, as this will be assessed on a case by case basis. Article 50(3) of the Children Order states that “where the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant turns on the child's health or development, his health or development shall be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child”.
Where a HSCT suspects that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm, the HSCT has a duty under Article 66 of the Children Order to make enquiries, or cause enquiries to be made, to enable it to decide whether it should take any action to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare. Co-operating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland-Page 13.
Gateway Services- is a social work services for children and families. It is the first point of contact for people who are concerned about a child or young person not already known to social services.
Calls to Gateway are made when we have reasonable grounds for concern such as specific report from the child of an incident involving threat/physical injury or harm. Evidence, such as an injury or behaviour which is consistent with abuse and unlikely to be caused in another way.
If we are in any doubt over concerns, we will contact Gateway for advice and act on their advice. Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from significant harm it also includes child safety, bullying, care and welfare of children and their family.
We have a duty to report and can report without parental consent as the welfare of the child is paramount.
The designated officer with the leader in charge of the session will contact Gateway. The name of the child and family will be withheld at this stage, unless Gateway ask for it.
Parents are normally our first point of contact.
Parents have the right to respect and be consulted.
We will discuss concerns with parents to gain their views on events. We will inform parents where we need to make a record of concerns in their child’s file and note of any discussion; we have with them regarding a concern.
If concerns are discussed with Gateway and they advise we make a referral to them. Belmont Playcare will make a call to parents advising them a disclosure has been made and Gateway has been contacted, and they will contact the parents directly.
Parents will NOT be informed, where it is believed that the child may be placed at risk. This will usually be the case where the parent is the likely abuser.
Belmont Playcare believes in building trust and supportive relationships with families, staff/students/trainees/volunteers in the group.
Belmont Playcare makes clear to parents, our roles and responsibilities in relation to child protection, such as for the reporting of concerns, providing information, monitoring of the child, and liaising at all times with the Health and Social Care Trust.
Belmont Playcare follows child protection guidelines as set out by the Health and Social Care Trust in relation to the settings designated role and tasks in supporting that child and their family, subsequent to any investigation.
Records kept on a child are shared with the child’s parents or those who have parental responsibility for the child in accordance with Health and Social Care Trust guidelines.
Recruitment Policy and Recruitment of ex-Offenders Policy.
To achieve this, we will ensure:
Pre-Employment interviews take place and take up two references.
Access NI Disclosure and SOCARE Checks are carried out as per Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order 2007.
New staff are employed in line with Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996.
References will be taken up (one of which will be current or most recent employer) prior to employment or voluntary work.
All appointments will be subject to a probationary period, which will be reviewed within six months.
Social Services will be informed of changes to staff team.
Allegations against staff:
What happens if an allegation of abuse is made against a member of staff at Belmont Playcare
This procedure will be undertaken if an allegation of abuse is made against a member of staff.
- We ensure that all parents/carers and staff know how to complain about the behaviour or actions of staff or volunteers within the setting, including any allegations of abuse.
- We follow the guidance of the Health and Social Care Trust when responding to any complaint that a parent/carer has put forward.
- We respond to any disclosure by children or staff that abuse by a member of staff or volunteer within the settings, may have taken, or is taking place, by first recording the details of any such alleged incident.
- We refer any such complaint immediately to the Gateway and our link social worker to investigate. Belmont Playcare is aware it is an offence not to do this.
- We co-operate entirely with the investigation carried out by children’s social care in conjunction with the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland).
- Where the management committee and Gateway agree it is appropriate, the chairperson may be advised to suspend the member of staff, whilst enquiries are carried out.
- Belmont Playcare could also invoke their disciplinary procedure.
This is not an indication of admission that the alleged incident has taken place but is to protect the staff/volunteers as well as children and families whilst the investigation is being carried out.
- Where a member of staff or volunteer has been dismissed due to engaging in activities that caused concern for the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, we will notify the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) of relevant information so that individuals who pose a threat to children (and vulnerable groups), can be identified and barred from working with these groups.
- Health and Social Care Trust Early Years Team must be informed of any allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person living, working, or looking after children at the premises. They will also be notified of the action taken in respect of the allegations. These will be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made.
We will support all staff through the process of reporting any known or suspected abuse; we will ensure all procedures are followed through correctly and followed up if required.
We will do this by:
Sharing concerns only with those agencies who need to know e.g. the Gateway Team
Involving parents and children appropriately as recommended by “Getting It Right”/ “Keeping Safe Project” and information received from the Gateway Team.
Belmont Playcare’s childcare protection policy comes from international and domestic legislation on child protection as listed below.
1.The Children (N.I.) Order 1995. There are main points in this order and the first states that
“the welfare of the child is paramount”.
2.Safeguarding Vulnerable groups (NI) Order 2007.
3.The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child
4.The Human Rights Act (1998) – Articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14
5.Co-operating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland (updated 29.08.17)
6. SBNI- Revised regional Care child protection Policies and procedures (15/12/17)
7.The Data Protection Act 2000
8.The Sexual Offenses (NI) Order 2008
9.Minimum Standards for Childminding and Day Care for Children Under Age 12 specifically Standard 1
10.Trust Guidelines, Our Duty to Care and Getting it Right
Our Child Protection Policy is linked to:
2.Allegations of Abuse Against Staff
5.Comments and Complaints
6.Code of Conduct
9.Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination
10.Health and Safety
11.Partnership with Parents
12.Staff Recruitment and Training
13.Staff Induction and Development
14.Staff Code of Conduct and Roles/ Responsibilities about the room
We always remember: The welfare of the child is Paramount.
Addendum (Taken from INFECTION CONTROL POLICY V6)
Child Protection and Covid 19
Staff will follow most up to date public health guidance issued by:
- Education Authority
- Public Health Agency
- Health and Social Care Trust during the covid 19 pandemic.
We all have a responsibility to keep children safe. Children’s welfare MUST come first.
If staff has a concern about a child, they should act immediately following Belmont Playcare’s child protection procedures.
The DfE’s guidance highlights that some children and young people returning to school will have been exposed to a range of trauma and adversity and increased safeguarding and welfare risks (DfE, 2020g; 2020h). In Northern Ireland, education staff should continue to follow the statutory guidance, Safeguarding and child protection in schools: a guide for schools (Department of Education, 2019).
Designated Officer Lisa Passmore should always be available to deal with concerns and (Hannah Nelson or Cheryl Henry) will deputise in her absence.
Safe recruitment practices will be followed as per recruitment policy.
New ways of working during Covid 19
All information has been taken from Belmont Playcare’s Infection Control Policy for Covid 19.
Belmont Playcare staff will maintain contact with children whilst observing social distancing guidelines. A session will act as a single consistent bubble, with minimal interaction with other sessions.
Belmont Playcare has additional hygiene measures as well as other protective measures to minimise the risk of infection.
Cleaning and disinfecting regularly touched objects and surfaces are in place and undertaken frequently and using our standard cleaning products.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as aprons and gloves are used, as necessary.
Clear procedures are in place for cleaning equipment and environment.
Immediate cleaning of spillages of blood and other bodily fluids and using correct PPE is in place.
Clear procedures on safe disposal of waste is in place.
Belmont Playcare will be maximizing the potential for more outdoor learning opportunities. Ratios will be maintained, and staff visible to other staff.
Careful consideration will be given to how we tailor delivery of the curriculum to reduce the risk of transmission.
It is important for children to feel secure and receive warmth and physical contact that is appropriate to their needs, in particular when they receive personal care, need comforting or reassurance.
Therefore, on occasions staff will need to be close to the children and support wellbeing by giving a hug in line with their needs and staff should feel confident to do so.
We will follow appropriate guidance on the use of appropriate PPE where necessary, e.g. to assist a child with a toileting accident/intimate care dealing with a sick child. Belmont Playcare’s procedure for the disposal of PPE and soiled items will be followed.
Staff will support and encourage independence in toileting routines and good hand hygiene.
Normal practice of completing daily registers will be maintained of staff, children and visitors in each session to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an episode of infection.
Staff will ensure visitors sign in and leave their contact details in the event track and trace needs to be implemented. (Inspections by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) will remain paused as schools re-open to all children and young people (ETI, 2020).
We will recognise and raise concerns about children’s welfare and make sure children mental wellbeing is being incorporated into learning. And concerns regarding covid are raised and discussed in an age appropriate manner.
Reasonable adjustments will be made for children or young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Parents and carers will be discouraged from gathering outside Belmont Playcare. The onus will be on parents/carers to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to at drop off/collection times.
Should closely follow the protective measures guidance and attendees kept to 1 visitor only and sign the visitors book leaving their contact details.
Staff will be supported through additional challenges to their role resulting from following covid 19 guidance through regular 1:1 supervision.
Please read in conjunction with:
First Aid Policy