Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adult’s Policy
Play Inclusion Project works with children and families as part of its activities. These include the planning and delivery of weekly leisure activities and Activity Clubs during school holiday periods.
The purpose of this policy statement is:
- to protect children and young people who receive Play Inclusion Project’s services. This includes the children of adults who use our services
- to provide parents, staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
This policy statement applies to anyone working on behalf of Play Inclusion Project, including senior managers and the board of trustees, paid staff, volunteers, sessional workers, agency staff and students.
This policy has been drawn up on the basis of legislation, policy and guidance that seeks to protect children in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Play Inclusion Project believes that it is always unacceptable for a child or young person to experience abuse of any kind and recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people, by a commitment to practice which protects them.
Working Together 2015 defines safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare as:
- Protecting children from maltreatment
- Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- Ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
- Taking action to enable all children to have the best life chances
We believe that:
- children and young people should never experience abuse of any kind
- we have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people, to keep them safe and to practise in a way that protects them.
We recognise that:
- the welfare of the child is paramount
- all children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
- some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
- working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- valuing, listening to and respecting them
- appointing a nominated child protection/safeguarding lead, a deputy child protection/safeguarding lead and a lead trustee/board member for safeguarding
- developing child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures which reflect best practice
- using our safeguarding procedures to share concerns and relevant information with agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers appropriately
- creating and maintaining an anti-bullying environment and ensuring that we have a policy and procedure to help us deal effectively with any bullying that does arise.
- developing and implementing an effective online safety policy and related procedures
- sharing information about child protection and safeguarding best practice with children, their families, staff and volunteers via leaflets, posters, group work and one-to-one discussions
- recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made
- providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support, training and quality assurance measures
- implementing a code of conduct for staff and volunteers
- using our procedures to manage any allegations against staff and volunteers appropriately
- ensuring that we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place
- ensuring that we provide a safe physical environment for our children, young people, staff and volunteers, by applying health and safety measures in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
- recording and storing information professionally and securely
All volunteers and staff are only accepted once a satisfactory enhanced level Disclosure and Barring Service clearance and two personal references have been received.
To safeguard the children and vulnerable adults we work with and to protect volunteers and staff against allegations they are never to be left alone with a child or vulnerable adult, this includes travelling arrangements and at all times during group sessions.
Definitions of Abuse
Child abuse is the term used when an adult harms a child or young person under the age of 18. Child abuse can take four forms, all of which can have long term adverse effects on children.
A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent/carer fabricates the symptoms of or deliberately induces illness to a child.
(Working Together 2013:85)
The persistent emotional maltreatment, of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or making fun of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability as well as over-protection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber-bullying) causing children to frequently feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.
Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
(Working Together 13:85-86)
Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration e.g. rape or oral sex or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing, and touching inside clothing. They may also include non-contact activities such as involving children looking at, or in the production of sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including over the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse as can other children.
(Working Together 13:86)
The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health and development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse. Once a child is born neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
- protect a child from physical or emotional harm or danger
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care takers) or
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.
(Working Together 13:86)
Child Sexual Exploitation
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through technology.
Indicators of Possible Abuse
Concern may be felt because a child or vulnerable adult:
- Has an unexplained and/or suspicious injury or one for which the explanation seems inconsistent.
- Describes what appears to be an abusive act involving them or is the subject of an allegation by another person.
- Displays unexplained changes in behaviour.
- Displays inappropriate sexual awareness engages in sexually explicit behaviour in games or masturbates.
- Suffers from urinary tract infection.
- Is distrustful of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would normally be expected.
- Has few, if any, friends and/or is prevented from socialising with other children or vulnerable adults.
- Appears to be suffering from impaired development.
- Displays variation in eating patterns or loses weight for no apparent reason.
- Develops a disturbed sleeping pattern – nightmares, bedwetting/soiling.
- Harms, or attempts to harm themselves, including running away.
This list is not exhaustive and a presence of one or more of the above is not proof that abuse has taken place.
Play Inclusion Project recognises that its volunteers are not experts in recognising when abuse may have taken place, and therefore requires volunteers to discuss any concerns they may have with group supervisors who will then assume responsibility for the matter and report issues of concern to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Play Inclusion Project will ensure all children and young people receive the same protection from abuse regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.
Play Inclusion project recognises that some children, including those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
Safeguarding children and young people with disabilities
Children with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse, research suggests that children with disabilities across the range of impairments are at a significantly higher risk of all forms of abuse. It is difficult to report abuse and children with disabilities including those who are deaf, with speech, language and communication needs face extra barriers.
Messages about abuse and how to stay safe are not always accessible to children with disabilities, including those who are deaf also they may:
- receive intimate personal care from a number of carers increasing the risk of exposure to abuse
- have an impaired capacity to resist/avoid abuse
- be inhibited about reporting abuse out of fear of losing services
- be vulnerable to bullying & intimidation
- be more vulnerable to abuse by their peers
Additional forms of abuse
Children with disabilities are three times more likely to suffer from abuse and are also at risk of being abused in other ways for example:
- physical restraint being carried out unnecessarily
- rough handling e.g. disproportionate use of force
- misuse of medication
- personal care needs not being adequately met e.g. a child who soils being left in unhygienic conditions
- force feeding or inappropriate feeding e.g. not using prescribed food
- extreme behaviour modification e.g. limiting movement or restricting freedoms (being left in wheel chair for long period)
Difficulties in recognising abuse of children and young people with disabilities
There are a number of factors that can make it difficult to recognise the abuse of children with disabilities. Professionals rely on parents and carers to facilitate communication; this poses a risk if a child is being abused by a parent/carer or if the adult they are communicating with does not believe the child.
Some children or young people may be dependent on their abuser or their abuser may be the main person they communicate with again making it difficult for abuse to be reported.
Some behaviour which indicate abuse is also common behaviour in children with disabilities e.g. lack of appetite can be due to medication or shying away from physical contact, also some children behave in ways which are self-harming making it difficult to recognise if abuse is taking place.
Responding to a Disclosure
If a child or vulnerable adult discloses information that causes concern all staff and volunteers must follow the procedure below –
- Respond calmly so as not to frighten the child or vulnerable adult.
- Take what the child or vulnerable adult says seriously, recognising that there may be difficulties in interpreting what a child or vulnerable adult who has speech impairment or difficulty with language and communication is saying.
- Do not ask any questions or make any notes but never stop them talking.
- Reassure the child or vulnerable adult, but do not make promises of confidentiality.
- Contact the designated safeguarding officer within two hours and allow them to take responsibility for contacting Social Services.
- If you cannot contact the designated officer you have a duty of care in relation to safeguarding and must contact social services directly and report your concerns.
- Make a careful record of what has been said, stating who was present, the time, date and place. Be factual, state exactly what was said using the child’s words wherever possible.
Staff and volunteers should never:
- Do nothing
- Make promises of confidentiality
- Investigate or seek to prove/disprove allegations
- Confront another person (adult or child) allegedly involved
- Assume that another agency or professional will act or is acting
- Offer opinions about what is being said or the persons allegedly involved
- Fail to discuss concerns with the designated Safeguarding Officer
- Attempt to resolve the matter themselves
- Forget to record what you have been told
Play Inclusion Project Office
Designated safeguarding Officer –
Lancashire Social Services
|0300 123 6720(8.00 am– 8. 00pm)
0300 123 6722 (out of hours Duty Team)
Blackpool Social Services
999 ( if a child is at immediate risk call the police)
- Once any suspicion, allegation or incident of abuse has been reported to project staff they should, within two hours report it to the DSL, Joanne Barnes. If the DSL is unavailable the group supervisor must directly report the incident to social services.
- Where necessary the DSL will report the concern to social services and follow up in writing within 24 hours.
- An incident report form must be completed within 24 hours. This will be filed securely in the Incident Report file in the Charity Manager’s office.
- Any volunteer or member of staff has the right to contact social services or the police. Where it is necessary to ensure the safety of the child or vulnerable adults or others and where the DSL is unavailable or where it is in the best interests of the service user, then social services or the police should be called immediately.
- Play Inclusion Project has a commitment to work in partnership with parents and carers and to share with them all concerns relating to their children. There are, however, circumstances in which a child or vulnerable adult might be placed at even greater risk were such concerns to be shared. The DSL, after consultation with the Charity Manager, Social Services and the Police is responsible for deciding whether the parents should be informed. In the case of suspicion or disclosure of sexual abuse committed by somebody known to the family the parents must not be informed.
- When a child/vulnerable adult protection referral is made, Social Services have a responsibility to investigate. While the investigation is taking place, Play Inclusion Project retains its responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or vulnerable adult. Although it is always necessary to be sensitive to the wishes of children or vulnerable adults there is a duty to report concerns or suspicions of abuse that put at risk the safety of the child, vulnerable adult or others, particularly if the allegation involves an employee or volunteer.
- If a child protection conference is convened, any representative from Play Inclusion Project must have the authority to make decisions, including acceptance of child and/or family support roles.
- If the child or young person’s name is entered on the child protection register, the name, address and telephone number of the key worker appointed by the child protection conference must be recorded on the child’s personal file.
It is not Child Protection but I am still Concerned
If you have concerns regarding a child or young person but the concern does not meet the threshold to be a Child Protection issue, for example if there are concerns that a child or family need extra help in making sure the all the child’s needs are met due to experiencing poverty or where a child is getting into trouble in the community, help can be sought using the Common Assessment Framework.
Safeguarding Concerns/Allegations Regarding Play Inclusion Project Staff and/ or Volunteers
All staff and volunteers should follow the policy of never being left alone with a child or young person at any time
- In the case of allegations being made against a staff member the procedures as outlined above must be followed. The Charity Manager should discuss this matter with the staff member and make detailed notes. At this stage the source of concern does not need to be named though they may already know.
- In the case of an allegation being made against the Charity Manager or Management members, staff should voice their concerns with Chair of the Trustees.
- Play Inclusion Project recognises that reporting on colleagues is difficult, but everyone has a duty of care in relation to safeguarding children. The safety and welfare of service users is of primary concern. It is better to report a suspicion and be wrong than not report it at all.
- The Charity Manager and Board of Trustees will support any member of staff who reports their suspicions in good faith. All matters will be treated seriously and managers should ensure that volunteers and staff feel comfortable in raising concerns
- If an allegation is made against a member of staff it may be that the staff member will be suspended to protect both the vulnerable service users and members of staff and to allow an investigation to be carried out as quickly as possible.
- Everyone should be aware that suspension of those who have contact with a suspected victim of abuse is not unusual. It does not imply that any disciplinary action will follow or that there are any particular suspicions about a particular member of staff.
- Management may be reassured that no abuse has occurred but more general issues of good practice may have been highlighted by an incident and these will be addressed.
- Discussion with staff regarding bad practice should be recorded in their employee files. Other appropriate people must be informed.
- All staff should receive awareness training about Safeguarding Children and the procedures to be followed.
Play Inclusion Project will ensure that safeguarding concerns or allegations against adults working for the charity are referred the local authority for advice, and that any member of staff found not suitable to work with children will be notified to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for consideration for barring, following resignation, dismissal, or when we cease to use their service as a result of a substantiated allegation, in the case of a volunteer.
The DSL is responsible for:
- Referring a child if there are concerns about possible abuse, to the Local Authority, and acting as a focal point for staff to discuss concerns. Referrals should be made in writing, following a telephone call using the Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF)
- Keeping written records of concerns about a child even if there is no need to make an immediate referral.
- Ensuring that all such records are kept confidentially in line with GDPR
- Liaising with other agencies and professionals.
- Ensuring that either they or the relevant Project Worker attends case conferences, core groups, or other multi-agency planning meetings, contribute to assessments, and provide a report which has been shared with the parents.