Immediate response to a child or a parent
Immediate response to a child or parent
Staff will follow effective safeguarding practice which includes:
- if possible, managing reports with two members of staff present, (preferably one of them being the designated safeguarding lead or a deputy). However, this might not always be possible;
- where the report includes an online element, we will be aware of searching, screening and confiscation advice (for schools) and UKCCIS sexting advice (for schools and colleges). The key consideration is for staff not to view or forward illegal images of a child. The highlighted advice provides more details on what to do when viewing an image is unavoidable. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to confiscate any devices to preserve any evidence and hand them to the police for inspection;
- not promising confidentiality at this initial stage as it is very likely a concern will have to be shared further (for example, with the DSL or children’s social care) to discuss next steps. Staff will only share the report with those people who are necessary in order to progress it. It is important that the victim understands what the next steps will be and who the report will be passed to;
- recognising a child is likely to disclose to someone they trust: this could be anyone staff in our setting. It is important that the person to whom the child discloses recognises that the child has placed them in a position of trust. They should be supportive and respectful of the child;
- keeping in mind that certain children may face additional barriers to telling someone because of their vulnerability, disability, sex, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation;
- listening carefully to the child, reflecting back, using the child’s language, being non-judgmental, being clear about boundaries and how the report will be progressed, not asking leading questions and only prompting the child where necessary with open questions – where, when, what, etc or TED ‘tell me’, ‘explain to me’ and ‘describe’. It is important to note that whilst leading questions should be avoided, staff can ask children if they have been harmed and what the nature of that harm was;
- considering the best way to make a record of the report. Best practice is to wait until the end of the report and immediately write up a thorough summary. This allows the staff member to devote their full attention to the child and to listen to what they are saying. It may be appropriate to make notes during the report (especially if a second member of staff is present). However, if making notes, staff should be conscious of the need to remain engaged with the child and not appear distracted by the note taking. Either way, it is essential a first-hand written record is made;
- only recording the facts as the child presents them. The notes should not reflect the personal opinion of the note taker. We are aware that notes of such reports could become part of a statutory assessment by children’s social care and/or part of a criminal investigation; and
- informing the DSL (or deputy), as soon as practically possible, if the DSL (or deputy) is not involved in the initial report.
If conversations need to take place and confidentiality is paramount to welfare, then these conversations will be held in appropriate settings and away from any general areas, where that confidentiality may be compromised.
We will never allow fears about sharing information to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare, and protect the safety of children. We expect concerns that arise in a morning will be reported to the DSL (or deputies) by lunchtime that day. Concerns that arise in an afternoon should be reported by or as close to the end of the school day, or as soon as reasonably practicable. Any concerns arising outside of the normal school day should be reported as quickly as possible. If in doubt concerned, parties should talk with the DSL (or deputy). Delay is unacceptable and may result in disciplinary action.
Where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer from harm or impairment, we will make a referral to children’s social care (and if appropriate the police) immediately. If we are unsure which local authority the child, lives in with use the online tool Report Child Abuse to Your Local Council to direct us to the relevant local children’s social care contact number.
Children’s social care assessments should consider where children are being harmed in contexts outside the home. Therefore, we will provide as much information as possible as part of the referral process. This will allow any assessment to consider all the available evidence and enable a contextual approach to address such harm.
Our role is to refer the information received and under no circumstances become the investigator.
We will work appropriately with each child, their family and other agencies to protect in all cases the welfare of the child. We will work in partnership and fulfil the ethos and abide by the principles of the Telford and Wrekin threshold guidance or the threshold guidance for the local social care team for the child.
Staff working at this setting may be required to support other agencies and professionals in an early help assessment, in some cases acting as the lead professional. Any such cases will be kept under constant review and consideration given to a referral to children’s social care assessment for statutory services if the child’s situation does not appear to be improving or is getting worse.
Staff working at this setting will be made aware of the process for making referrals to children’s social care and statutory assessments. This is under the Children Act 1989, especially section 17 (children in need) and section 47 (a child suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm), that may follow a referral; along with the role staff might be expected to play in such assessments.
A child in need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled. Local authorities are required to provide services for children in need for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting their welfare. Children in need may be assessed under section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
Local authorities, with the help of other organisations as appropriate, have a duty to make enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. Such enquiries enable them to decide whether they should take any action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare and must be initiated where there are concerns about maltreatment, including all forms of abuse and neglect, female genital mutilation or other so-called honour based violence, and extra-familial threats like radicalisation and sexual exploitation.
Where there are visible injuries, all staff should record these on a body map diagram and describe them the best they can. We will assume good evidential practice to get two persons involved who have seen the injury and can account for it on the body map, then immediately follow up with a referral as described above.
Under no circumstances will staff photograph injuries seen on children. Our staff are not expert witnesses. If the concern is around non-accidental injury, then that is a matter that requires immediate attention on the day resulting in an appropriate referral to Family Connect or the local social care team for the child. Those professionals will control the process of photographic evidence gathering underway and assessment.
For staff to interpret any concerns we will assess each incident as it appears. In respect of assessing any bruising to a child we will refer to the Bruising of Children guidance produced by the TWSP to assist their decision making.