In North East Lincolnshire there are numerous organisations working within the voluntary community and private sector. This part of the procedures should be followed by organisations that are not statutory but provide services or have direct contact with children and young people. These include organisations with paid staff and/or volunteers.
The voluntary and community organisations and the private sector provide a range of services that are central to the provision of family support and sometimes directly involved with the child in need and in need of protection services.
Working Together 2010 states that organisations in the private and voluntary sector that provide services for children or are in contact with children, need to have arrangements in place to fulfil their commitment to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. In North East Lincolnshire, these include:
- Clear stated priorities in strategic policy documents
- A clear commitment by senior management to the importance of safeguarding and promoting children and young people’s welfare
- Clear lines of accountability
- Recruitment and Human Resources management procedures including arrangements for appropriate checks on new staff and volunteers.
- Arrangements to ensure all staff, including temporary staff and volunteers, undertake appropriate training to equip them to ensure they are aware of and able to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
- Having clear policies in place for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including child protection policy and procedures that are in accordance with North East Lincolnshire’s Local Safeguarding Children Board
- Having arrangements in place to work effectively with other organisations including arrangements for sharing information
- A culture of listening to and engaging in dialogue with children-seeking their views in ways appropriate to their age and understanding and taking into account of these both in individual decisions and the establishment of services
- A culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting welfare to be addressed with appropriate whistle blowing procedures in place.
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The Protection of Children Act 1999
1.1 The Protection of Children Act 1999 requires that all child care organisations, or those working with or in contact with children should ensure that individuals are checked to ascertain that they are suitable to be employed or to have direct contact with children. "Child care organisation" means an organisation:
- which is concerned with the provision of accommodation, Directorates of Children and Family Services or health care services to children or the supervision of children;
- whose activities are regulated by or by virtue of any prescribed enactment; and
- which fulfils such other conditions as may be prescribed
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The Vetting and Barring Scheme
2.1 The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) aims to ensure that unsuitable people do not work with children, whether in paid employment or on a voluntary basis. The scheme comprises:
- two barred lists, maintained by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). One list comprises persons barred from working with children, and the other is for persons barred from working with vulnerable adults. From 12 October 2009 these lists replaced the list held under section 142 of the Education Act 2002 known as ‘List 99’, the list held under the Protection of Children Act 1999 and the list held under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults Scheme. It is a criminal offence for a barred person to engage in ‘regulated activity’ or for an employer knowingly to engage a barred person to carry out such work
2.2 Since October 2009, the duties to refer concerns regarding individuals under List 99 and the Protection of Children Act 1999 were replaced with a duty to refer information to the ISA. The circumstances where a referral must be made are where:
a. an individual has been removed from ’regulated activity’ (or would or might have been removed if they had not already left); and
b. the employer/volunteer manager thinks that ’relevant conduct’ has occurred, or the individual poses a risk of harm.
2.3 The duties to refer and to provide information to the ISA on request are placed on regulated activity providers and certain other bodies, including local authorities in their children’s services and adult social care capacities. Failure by regulated activity providers to carry out the duty is a criminal offence. Compliance by local authorities is subject to local government performance management systems. ‘Regulated activity’ is defined in guidance on the ISA’s website.
2.3 ‘Relevant conduct’ is defined as:
a. conduct which endangers a child or is likely to endanger a child;
b. conduct which, if repeated against or in relation to a child, would endanger that child or would be likely to endanger him;
c. conduct involving sexual material relating to children (including possession of such material);
d. conduct involving sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings (including possession of such images), if it appears to the Independent Safeguarding Authority that the conduct is inappropriate; or
e. conduct of a sexual nature involving a child, if it appears to the ISA that the conduct is inappropriate.
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Children in Need and in Need of Protection Referrals
3.1 Under normal circumstances most agencies will take service requests directly from service-users or the public.
3.2 Service providers in the voluntary sector and in the private sector not only have substantial contact with and access to children in North East Lincolnshire, but will also have extensive local knowledge and hold information relating to children and families.
3.3 On occasions the service-users will already be involved with the statutory sector
3.4 In certain situations the voluntary/community agencies and the private sector will need to consider making referrals to the Children and Family Services under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (Children in Need) or under Section 47 (Investigation of Significant Harm). In addition the Children Act 2004 defines agencies responsibilities in relation to safeguarding Children and Young People. Under these circumstances, such referrals should be made having due regard for current legislation, Working Together to Safeguard Children and the North East Lincolnshire Local Safeguarding Board Children Board Guidelines and Procedures an the guidance what to do if you are worried a child is being abused.
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4.1 The welfare of the child must be the paramount concern of staff /volunteers when considering the risk of harm to a child.
4.2 Child protection issues can arise in any family. Staff/volunteers should be aware of and have supervision appraising contact and identifying any potential risk to children.
4.3 All staff must have knowledge and awareness of their agencies’ procedures and the Local Safeguarding Children Board’s procedures.
4.4 The protection of children is not the responsibility of one agency. Good communication and shared responsibility between the professionals involved in working with families or individuals where safeguarding is an issue are essential to safeguarding children from significant harm and promoting welfare.
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Consent and Confidentiality
5.1 The Data Protection Act and the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 8) require that information records are accurate, obtained lawfully, are relevant and kept securely. Article 8 defines the right to respect for a persons private and family life, his home and his correspondence. Individual agencies will have their own procedures and practices in relation to record keeping and the confidentiality of service user information, which must comply with the Legislation.
5.2 Under the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families, (Department of Health, 2000), there is a requirement that the consent of the person being referred is sought prior to sharing information with any other party. In cases where child protection is the primary concern, this consent may be dispensed with, it may be that consent may be dispensed with following consultation with the Referral and Assessment Team (RAS).
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Making a Referral
6.1 The process for making a referral is explained in Section 3. Management of individual cases. Where the person making the referral is unsure if the concerns are of a child protection nature, the Children’s Social Care are available for consultation and they will take responsibility for deciding whether or not the referral will be dealt with under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.
6.2 Voluntary and community organisations and the private sector need to follow the Department of Health Guidelines ‘what to do if a child is being abused’ and their agencies procedures.
6.3 The voluntary/community organisations and private sector should identify and appoint a nominated persons with designated responsibility for:
- making a referral using the making a request for service form
- ensuring compliance with legislation
- ensuring agency involvement with the referral process complies with both LSCB and agency procedures.
6.4 All referrals made to the Local Authority Children and Family Services will need to be confirmed in writing within 24 hours using the Request for a Service Form.
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Process and Role Following Referral
7.1 Following a referral to the Children’s Social Care a child or children becomes subject of further assessment or a Child Protection Conference, any agency involved with the child will be responsible for ensuring that:
- Information is provided as requested by the Children’s Social Care, as speedily as possible.
- Where requested, attendance by an agency representative is provided for the child in need Core Group or Child Protection Conference.
- Written reports are provided by the agency for the conference
- Contributions to or attendance at Core Group is agreed as appropriate.
7.2 Any voluntary community organisation or private sector agency involved with children, young people or family subject to assessment or child in need or in need of protection procedures will be required to contribute as outlined above.
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Recruitment of Staff and Volunteers
8.1 Paragraph 2.9, p42 of Working Together 2010 requires that “All organisations must ensure they have in place safe recruitment policies and practices, including enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for all staff, including agency staff, students and volunteers, working with children.”
8.2 Common features should include the following:
- Criminal record checks by the Criminal Record Bureau (i.e. the forms must include the section ticked working with children).
- For relevant organisations, checks of lists maintained by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Employment of those deemed unsuitable to work with children;
- Checks of professional registers if relevant;
- Asking candidates to confirm identity through official documents as part of the Criminal Record Bureau check;
- Verifying the authenticity of qualifications and references directly;
- Seeking a full employment history for prospective staff members and foster carers and reserving the right to approach any previous employer; checking with former employers the reason why the employment ended; identifying any gaps or inconsistencies and seeking and explanation;
- Making appointments as paid staff or volunteers only after references are obtained and checked. Referees should be reminded that references should contain no material mis-statements or omissions relevant to the suitability of the applicant; and
- Making all appointments to work with or providing direct services to children via volunteers (including internal transfers) subject to a probationary period.
8.3 The Working Together 2010 document indicates that interviews of employees or volunteers should reflect an agencies commitment to ensuring that potential employees or volunteers are suitable in terms of their attitudes, perceptions and boundaries of acceptable behaviour towards children.
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