Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy
Basic PrinciplesSafeguarding of children and young people is everyone’s responsibility; for services to be effective each professional / organisation / volunteer should play their full part. Everyone has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.
To be effective, services need to be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children and young people. It is recognised that child abuse occurs in all religions, all cultures and all social classes.
Bath Child Contact Centre believes that:
- All children and young people need and have the right to safe environments in which they can grow and develop in confidence;
- Organisations working with and supporting children and young people have a duty of care to keep them safe;
- Children and young people should not be exposed to negligence or avoidable risks.
Bath Child Contact Centre places safeguarding children and young people and child protection at the centre of its activities and works in accordance with the guidance set out in ‘Working together to safeguard children’.
The Centre recognises that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children are emotive issues that need to be handled both sensitively and carefully. The Centre is committed to implementing policies and procedures that will ensure that, where risks need to be taken regarding children and young people, they are both fully assessed and carefully managed.
The Centre endorses the guidance in ‘Working Together’ about the importance of developing a child-centred approach which states:
‘Effective safeguarding systems are child-centred. Failings in safeguarding systems are too often the result of losing sight of the needs and views of the children within them, or placing the interests of adults ahead of the needs of children’.
‘Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs’. A child-centred approach is supported by:
- The Children Act 1989 which requires due regard to be given to a child’s wishes; the Equality Act 2010 which puts responsibility on authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity;
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that protects the rights of children and provides a child-centred framework for the development of services to children.
ProceduresIn order to ensure that the Bath Child Contact Centre provides effective safeguarding and a child-centred approach, procedures have been put in place to this end:
Volunteers receive initial and ongoing training that includes understanding of this policy. The Centre promotes and supports the safeguarding and well-being of all volunteers and families attending the Centre. This training includes the NACCC module which highlights how to recognise signs and symptoms of abuse which fall into four categories: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
Staff will create a relaxed, welcoming, safe and secure environment in order for the families to feel as secure as possible during attendance at the Centre.
Confidentiality issues will be overridden by the need to act for the welfare of the child.
- Responsibility for a child or children using a Child Contact Centre always rests with their parents and not volunteers. Nevertheless, every volunteer is responsible for:
- Preventing the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children whilst using their Child Contact Centre;
- Listening to concerns expressed by parents or children and advising them how to report any abuse;
- Reporting abuse themselves in certain circumstances.
- Where there is an allegation of, or suspected, child abuse the interests and safety of the child / children involved must always come first. This means that if there is a conflict of interest between a parent and a child, the interests of the child should always be put first. Bath Child Contact Centre will ensure that:
- Child Contact Centre users and referrers are aware that the Child Contact Centre has a Child Protection Policy they can see upon request.
- All volunteers have an understanding of what constitutes child abuse and procedures that need to be followed to report or prevent it.
- There is a recognised procedure for Child Contact Centre volunteers / staff to report allegations of, or suspected, child abuse. Volunteers will report any concern regarding child welfare and protection to the Centre Co-ordinator who will make the appropriate referral to Child Services following the Local Safeguarding Children Board guidelines. The Co-ordinator has the support and reference to the Chair and Management Committee of the Centre for advice and guidance.
- Child Contact Centres providing Supported Contact will not knowingly accept a referral when somebody involved has been convicted of any offence relating to a) physical, b) emotional, or c) sexual abuse of any child, unless there are exceptional circumstances and they have sought appropriate professional advice and help.
- The risk of volunteers being potential or actual perpetrators is reduced by a combination of the following prior to their appointment:
- The completion of an application form
- An interview
- Obtaining references from two people who have first hand knowledge of them
- Carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service checks
- Making any appointment conditional on the successful completion of a probationary period.
- No child attending the Centre will be left in the sole charge of the volunteers without one of his / her parents being in attendance. Therefore, volunteers will ensure that the visiting parent has arrived before allowing the parent with residency to leave the premises and vice versa at the end of the session. Should a child not wish to be separated from their resident parent/guardian then every endeavour will be taken to promote emotional wellbeing. Staff will have as little physical contact with the children as possible and when necessary will handle children appropriately causing as little distress as possible.
- A volunteer will be in attendance at the Centre entrances at all times and no one will be allowed to leave the Centre if there is any doubt in respect of compliance with Court Orders, requests by the parent with residency and / or safety of the child. Other exits are protected either by lock or alarm.
- Any accident / incident will be recorded in the Centre’s Accident Book that is readily available. The resident parent will always be notified of any incident, however minor, affecting their child prior to their leaving the Centre.
- Volunteers are aware that in most situations parents should accompany children to the toilet. If there has been a request for a volunteer to take a child to the toilet, or there is concern about a parent, they will be accompanied by another volunteer. Volunteers will not take children to the toilet on their own. Volunteers permanently oversee the baby changing facilities and the entrance to the toilets.
- The use of video cameras and mobile phones (for making and receiving calls) is not permitted within the Centre.
- In the event of a dispute occurring between a child’s parents, an assessment will be made by the Team Leader / volunteer, who will endeavour to resolve the situation amicably.
- If a child becomes upset during the course of the contact session, volunteers will use their best endeavours to ensure that the situation does not continue and, if necessary, will return the child to the resident parent and terminate contact.
- There is an easily accessible and ongoing support structure available to volunteers who have to deal with a family where there has been alleged or actual child abuse.
- The Child Contact Centre policy in relation to child protection is reviewed annually and updated if necessary.