CHILD PROTECTION POLICY STATEMENT
DESIGNATED PERSON – LIZ BRENNAN – 086 2245113
DEPUTY DESIGNATED PERSON – PATRICK HOWE – 087 2272845
LOCAL SOCIAL WORKER – TEAM NUMBER – 01 6464518
ROSELAWN HEALTH CENTRE – TEAM LEADER – GERALDINE QUINN
BLANCHARDSTOWN GARDA STATION – 01 6667020
PLATFORM STAGE SCHOOL considers that the welfare and protection of children are of paramount importance. Our Child Protection Policy reflects the key principle within the Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children issued by the Department of Health and Children in 2011 (‘Children First’). It also follows the guidance provided by Our Duty to Care, The Principles of Good Practice for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2002). Each of these publications together with a summary of Children First, A Parents’ Guide to Children First and other useful sources of information relating to child protection are available for reference on request. The aim of this policy to provide clean guidance for staff, families, guardians and to equip them with the knowledge and tools on how to provide best practices in relation to the safeguarding and welfare of children. Furthermore it is to ensure that there are proper protocols in place for the identifying and reporting suspected child abuse.
We at PSS are committed to practice which protects children from harm. Management and staff in this organisation recognise that the welfare of children is paramount and our service will endeavour to safeguard children by:-
- Having a reporting procedure to respond to concerns around childrens’ welfare and safety.
- Having a confidentially statement.
- Having a code of behaviour for staff and volunteers/students.
- Having a safe recruitment procedure.
- Having a procedure to respond to accidents.
- Having a procedure to respond to complaints.
- Developing a Staff allegations procedure and disciplinary procedure.
As part of the policy, this service will:-
- Appoint a designated liaison person and deputy designated person.
- Provide induction training around the group’s Child Protection Policy.
- Provide supervision and support for staff and volunteers in contact with children.
- Share information about the Child Protection Policy and good practices with families and children.
- Review the groups’ Child Protection Policy and practices on a regular basis.
We intend to maintain an environment in which both children and adults are safe from harm and in which any suspicion of abuse is responded to promptly and appropriately. In order to achieve this, we have developed our Child Protection Policy and procedure in line with The Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children issued by the Department of Health & Children in 2011 (‘Children First’). Also see key principles appendix 1.
We will do all that is possible to ensure that we provide a place where everyone can feel safe and no-one suffers abuse of any kind. We are guided in this by the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and Our Duty to Care, The Principles of Good Practice for the Protection and Welfare of Children that everyone is supported and listened to and that each person understands their responsibility to treat all as equals. Training course (online or otherwise) on child protection is encouraged.
REPORTING CHILD ABUSE
It is the responsibility of all staff members working with PSS to report any suspicious allegations of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect to the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In an emergency, we will contact the Garda Siochana.
If a member of staff is suspected or accused of abuse, the matter will be reported immediately and other uses will be protected. In some instances, this may mean the suspension of staff from duty.
It is our responsibility to report suspicions and/or allegations but not to carry out investigations. This is the role of the HSE and Garda Siochana.
If there is any concern about the welfare of safety of a child who is involved in this organisation, the following procedure will be followed.
For concerns in relation to abuse of a child by people employed or volunteering with PSS, the following procedure will also be followed in relation to the protection of the child. However, in addition to the ‘allegations’ against staff, students and volunteer, procedures will also be followed in respect of the rights of the staff member, student and volunteer.
The designated person (Liz Brennan) will consider and record the concern. Liz Brennan may call the duty Social Worker for informal advice ie. Discussing their concerns with identifying the child or family. However, after discussion with the duty Social Worker and when advised to do so, Liz Brennan will make a formal report on the standard reporting form and forward it to the Social Work Department of the HSE.
The local name and number for the Duty Social Worker is Geraldine Quinn. Team number 016464518 at Roselawn Health Centre.
EMERGENCY SITUATIONS/OUTSIDE OF SOCIAL WORK DEPARTMENT HOURS
Designated Liaison persons and staff should be made aware to contact An Garda Siochana in emergency situations. Tel. 01-6667020
If the designated person (Liz Brennan) is not available, the deputy designated person (Patrick Howe) will take her place in the reporting procedures.
In making any report, the following must be taken into consideration:-
- The protection and safety of the child is paramount.
- The principle of natural justice – a person is innocent until proven otherwise.
The principle of confidentiality – only those that need to know should be told of a suspicion/allegation/disclosure of abuse and the number of the people to be informed should be kept to a minimum.
When a Child Protection report is being made to the HSE, good practice would indicate that a family should be informed about the report UNLESS DOING SO MAY PUT THE CHILD AT FURTHER RISK.
The designated liaison person should seek advice from the Social Work Department in relation to this.
IF A CHILD HINTS OR TELLS YOU THAT HE OR SHE IS BEING ABUSED, IT MUST BE HANDLED VERY SENSITIELY AND IN THE FOLLOWING WAY:-
- Stay calm and listen – give the child time to say what he or she wants.
- Don’t ask leading questions or details or make suggestions.
- Don’t stop the child recalling significant events but don’t make him or her repeat the story unnecessarily.
- Re-assure the child but don’t promise to keep it a secret.
- Explain what needs to be done next.
- Record the discussion as carefully as possible.
THE BASIS PRINCIPLES OF CHILD PROTECTION PRACTICE IN EARLY YEARS SETTING WILL APPLY AS FOLLOWS:-
- The protection and safety of the child is paramount.
- There is respect for children and their physical care – staff members should talk to children rather than each other and should personalise all interaction.
- The level of contact around intimate care should be sensitively dealt with ad a child’s need for privacy in the toilet respected in accordance with his/her self care abilities.
- All staff should be guided by individual children in expressions of affection.
- Children have the right to be listened to and to be taken seriously. Adults should also observe their body language. Their questions will always be answered honestly in a way that is appropriate to their age and stage of development.
- Families have the right to be respected and consulted in relation to their child’s welfare.
- Where there is a conflict of interest between the needs and rights of children and the need and rights of their parents/guardians, the child’s needs will be paramount.
- We are committed to working collaboratively with all agencies and discipline concerned with the protection and the welfare of children.
- We will respect confidentiality of information entrusted to us but will not treat as confidential information which needs to be shared to protect children.
- We will always fully consider factors such as the child’s gender, ages and stage of development, relation, culture and race at PSS.
- We will endeavour to raise awareness in relation to childrens’ welfare and protection among parents, guardians, staff and the community generally.
- We will employ best practice in our recruitment and selection policies and procedure so as to minimise the risk to children in our service.
We will employ agreed and positive ways of dealing with childrens’ behaviour. Their troublesome and disruptive behaviour will be kept separate from themselves as individuals and labels or nicknames will be avoided. Safe methods for dealing physical with children will be agreed and consistently applied.
PROTECTING CHILDREN DURING SERVICE PROVISION
- Children will be under the supervision of a minimum of one adult at all times.
- Parents/guardians are allowed access to their childrens’ room at all times.
- Children will not be released to anyone under 18 (including siblings) that staff members feel is not responsible enough to ensure the welfare of the child.
- Parents/guardians are contacted when children do not arrive at the service when expected.
- Childrens’ arrivals and departures are supervised.
- Records are kept accurately and up to date.
- Physical contact is a valid way of comforting, reassuring and showing concern for children but should only take place when it is acceptable to all persons concerned.
- Staff members must not give lifts in their cars to individual children unless they have prior consent from the parents/guardians.
THE ROLE OF THE DESIGNATED LIAISON PERSON (LIZ BRENNAN)
- The designated liaison person should have completed the Keeping Safe Training as a minimum.
- They should be in a position to have an ongoing role with the service/organisation.
- They should be in a senior position.
- They should be open and comfortable with the topic of abuse.
- They should be available and committed to undergoing further training in the area of child protection and positive childcare practices.
- The designated liaison person may link informally with the HSE Duty Social Worker to discuss concerns around children in their service.
- Where appropriate and when advised by the HSE Duty Social Worker, the Designated Liaison Person will make a report without delay on a Standard Reporting Form to the local social work department.
- Designated Liaison Persons acting on behalf of their group will not make anonymous referrals in keeping with their child protection policy statement and the HSE guidance on the limits of confidentiality.
CODE OF BEHAVIOUR
We at Platform Stage School believe that staff and volunteers should have a child centred approach and a clear understanding of what is acceptable with respect to their behaviour with children in order to protect children from harm and staff from misinterpretations of their actions.
We aim to do this by:-
- Valuing and respecting al children as individuals.
- Listening to children.
- Involving children in decision making as appropriate.
- Encouraging children.
We do not:-
- Engage in or allow inappropriate touching in any form.
- Verbal abuse or physical punishment of any child.
- Condone bullying or abusive behaviour by staff, volunteers or other children.
- Undertake intimate care needs without consulting and agreeing arrangements with the child and parents.
- Engage in practices which demean children.
We are aware:-
- Of developing favouritism or becoming overly involved with any one child.
- That while physical contact is an integral part of child care, it should be based on the needs of the child, and not the adult.
We at PSS believe that child protection is of paramount importance, therefore intimate care is only provided if there is prior consent from parents/guardians. At PSS, we consider that the need for intimate care may arise when:-
- A child soils themselves and needs assistance to get cleaned and changed into clean clothes.
- A child might require assistance if they have difficulty changing into their change of clothes.
- Consoling a child when hurt or crying.
- When providing intimate care, all staff will adhere to the code of conduct stated above.
PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AGAINST EMPLOYEES AN VOLUNTEERS
The procedure in respect of the employee:-
- The designated person informs the employee/volunteer that an allegation has been made against him/her and the nature of the allegation.
- The employee should be given an opportunity to respond. The designated person should note the response and pass on the information when making the standard report to the HSE.
- Further action should be guided by the employment contract and the rules of natural justice – the first priority is to ensure that no child is exposed to unnecessary risk. Protective measures must be undertaken (See Children First 2011, pg 93) appendix.
- Follow up action on the allegation/concern must be taken in consultation with the investigating agencies: HSE and/or An Garda Siochana. After these consultations, when pursuing the question of the future position of the employee, the designated person should advise the employee of the agreed procedures to be followed.
- Employers should take care to maintain close liaison with HSE/or An Garda Siochana during the course of the investigation.
PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED IF A PARENT/GUARDIAN HAS A COMPLAINT
If a parent/guardian/person/child is not satisfied with ny aspect of the running of this organisation or the behaviour of any individual in it, they should first seek to resolve the issue informally by:-
Discussion with the person in charge of the activity/service.
If the issue is unresolved or re-occurs, parents should put their complaint in writing to the head of the organisation/person delegated to deal with complaints.
A delegate may organise to meet with the complainant to try and resolve the issue.
Written records of discussion and agreements made will be kept of this meeting and copies made available to parents.
Most complaints are resolved through the above stages. However, if there are other or more serious issues arising from the complaint then both sides may agree the need for a third party to mediate in relation to the complaint.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the following procedures may also be followed:-
- CODE OF BEHAVIOUR
If there is a breach of the Code of Behaviour by staff, ie. Poor practice, consumption of alcohol. The disciplinary procedure may be invoked by the management committee or owner of the childcare service.
- THE REPORTING PROCEDURE
If there is a complaint alleging abuse of a child by any staff/volunteer etc. in the Service, the reporting procedure to the Social Work Department of the HSE will be followed.
- ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AGAINST STAFF
If there is an allegation of abuse of a child by an employee, the ‘gross misconduct section’ of a disciplinary procedure in relation to the staff member would be followed.
It is the policy of Platform Stage School to keep confidential all personal information about the children in the school.
The only exception to this may be when child protection concerns arise in relation to a child. In this situation, information will be shared on a need to know basis in the best interest of the child.
Management, staff, in this service will be advised of our confidentiality policy and required to sign up to it.
- Only appropriate individuals involved with the child will have access to confidential files on a need to know basis.
- Where there are child protection issues, observation/records should be kept on an ongoing basis and information shared with social work departments as appropriate.
- Confidential records will be kept at 43 Deerpark Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15.
- The only person who will have access to these records is Liz Brennan. Parents/Guardians should be aware of the necessity of keeping records in relation to children in order to comply with the Child Care Regulations 2006.
- Parents/Guardians will have access to the files and records of their own children on request but will not have access to information about any other child.
- Where there are child protection issues, observations/records should be kept on an ongoing basis and information shared on a need to know basis.
This service will ensure that all staff and volunteers are carefully selected by undertaking the following:-
- Devising a clear job description which outlines the qualifications, skills and experience needed.
- Requesting candidates to supply a curriculum vitae which should include information re personal details, past and current work/volunteering experience, qualifications or skills relevant to the post.
- A declaration form should be submitted in relation to criminal convictions.
- Two forms of identification including photo ID such as passport/driver’s licence should be supplied.
- Two written references should be supplied.
- These must be followed up with a phone call to verify that they are bone fide.
- This is also an opportunity to ascertain if there have been any concerns that have not been outlined in the written reference.
- Seek Garda vetting in relation to all candidates, staff or volunteers prior to appointment of position.
INDUCTION, TRAINING AND SUPERVISION/SUPPORT
- All management, staff, will be required to sign up to the Child Protection Policy.
- All management will attend Keeping Safe Training and other relevant training as identified.
- Designated Liaison Persons will be released to attend Health Services Executive Designated Liaison Persons Training and other relevant training as identified.
- Regular supervision and support will be available to new and existing staff and volunteers, through one to one meetings or group meeting.
- We undertake to ensure that all complaints are taken serioucly and dealt with fairly and confidentially.
- We will endeavour to quickly and informally resolve complaints through discussion with the parents and members of staff as appropriate.
- Parents/young people will be made aware that there is a complaints procedure in operation and will receive a copy of the complains form as party of the Child Protecton Policy.
- All parents will have access to the Child Protection Policy on PSS website.
- Parents/Guardians may download a copy of the Policy.
THE KEY PRINCIPLES THAT SHOULD INFORM BEST PRACTICE IN CHILD PROTECTION AND WELFARE ARE:-
- The welfare of children is of paramount importance.
- Early intervention and support should be available to promote the welfare of children and families, particularly where they are vulnerable or at risk of not receiving adequate care of protection. Family support should form the basis or early intervention and preventative interventions.
- A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights and needs of parents/carers and families. Where there is conflict, the child’s welfare must come first.
- Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously. Taking account of their age and understanding, they should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives. Where there are concerns about a child’s welfare, there should be opportunities provide for their views to be heard independently of their parents/carers.
- Parents/carers have a right to respect ad should be consulted and involve in matters that concern their family.
- Factors such as the child’s famly circumstances, gender, age, stage of development, religion, culture and race should be considered when taking protective action. Intervention should not deal with the child in isolation, the child’s circumstances must be understood within a family context.
- The criminal dimension of any action must not be ignored.
- Child should only be separated from parents/carers when alternative means of protecting them have been exhausted. Re-union should be considered in the context of planning for the child’s future.
- The prevention, detection and treatment of child abuse or neglect requires a co-ordinated multi-disciplinary approach, effective management, clarity of responsibility and training of personnel in organisations working with children.
- Professionals and agencies working with adults who for a range of reasons may have serious difficulties meeting their children’s basic needs for safety and security should always consider the impact of their adult client/patient’s behaviour on a child and act in the child’s best interests.
Standard Reporting Form (with social work department numbers)
DEFINITIONS OF ABUSE
DEFINITIONS OF NEGLECT
Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety attachment to an affection from adults, and or medical care.
Harm can be defined as the ill-treatment or the impairment of the health or development of a child.
Whether it is ‘significant’ is determined by the child’s health and development as compared to that which could reasonably be expected of a child or similar age.
Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than a one specific point. For example, a child who suffers a series of minor injuries may not be having his or her needs met in terms of necessary supervision and safety. A child whose height or weight is significantly below average may be being deprived of adequate nutrition. A child who consistently misses school may be being deprived of intellectual stimulation.
The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her well-being and/or development are severely affected.
DEFINITION OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE
Emotional abuse is normally to be found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern or events. It occurs when a child’s developmental need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical signs or symptoms. Examples may include:-
- The imposition of negative attributes on a child, expressed by persistent criticism, sarcasm, hostility or blaming.
- Conditional parenting in which the level of care shown to a child is made contingent on her or her behaviours or actions.
- Emotional unavailability of the child’s parent/carer.
- Unresponsiveness of the parent/carer and/or inconsistent or inappropriate expectations of the child.
- Premature imposition of responsibility on the child.
- Unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the child’s capacity to understand something or to behave and control him/herself in a certain way.
- Under or over-protection of the child.
- Failure to show interest in, or provide age-appropriate opportunities for the child’s cognitive and emotional development.
- Use of unreasonable or over-harsh disciplinary measures.
- Exposure to domestic violence
- Exposure to inappropriate or abusive material through new technology.
Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive affective or physical functioning. Examples of these include insecure attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and developmental under achievement and oppositional behaviour. The ‘threshold of significant harm’ is reached when abusive interactions dominate and become typical of the relationship between the child and parent/carer.
DEFINITION OF PHYSICAL ABUSE
Physical abuse of a child is that which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction, lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust. There may be a single or repeated incidents.
- Physical abuse can involve:-
- Severe physical punishment.
- Beating, slapping, hitting or kicking.
- Pushing, shaking or throwing.
- Pinching, biting, choking, or hair-pulling.
- Terrorising with threats.
- Observing violence.
- Use of excessive force in handling.
- Deliberate poisoning.
- Fabricated/induced illness
- Allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.
DEFINITION OF ‘SEXUAL ABUSE’
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of child sexual abuse include:-
- Exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act ‘intentionally’ performed in the presence of the child.
- Intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or ratification.
- Masturbation in the presence of the child or the involvement of the child in an act of masturbation.
- Sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal.
- Sexual exploitation of a child, which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requiring or permitting a child to solicit for, or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts. Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modelling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act including it’s recording (on film, video tape or other media) or the manipulation, for those purposes, of the image by computer or other means. It may also include showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse.
- Consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person. In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that for the purposes of the criminal law, the age of consent to sexual intercouse is 17 years for both boys and girls. An Garda Siochana will deal with the criminal aspects of the case under the relevant legislation.
It should be noted that the definition of child sexual abuse presented in this section is not a legal definition and is not intended to be a description of the criminal offence of sexual assault.
Related policies and procedures
- Confidentiality Policy
- Behaviour Management
- Staff Policies and Procedures
- Health and Safety Policy
- Admissions Policy
- Communication and Family Involvement
- Play Policy and Procedure
- Transportation and Collection Policy
- Recruitment Policy
References and supporting documents
- Childcare (pre-school services) Regulation, 2006 and childcare (pre-school services) (no. 2) (Amendment) regulations, 2006.
- Children first: national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children.
- Our Duty of Care
- The Childcare Act 1991
Name – Liz Brennan – firstname.lastname@example.org
SIGNED ON BEHALF OF PLATFORM STAGE SCHOOL BY
Liz Brennan (owner)________________________________________
Pat Howe (teacher)_________________________________________