Child protection policy
These child protection policies and procedures were drawn up by Fathers Direct, in the light of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services Standards and Guidelines (“Keeping It Safe”). They conform to current child protection legislation and guidance.
Fathers Direct is the leading organisation in the UK promoting the child-father relationship (registered charity 1075104). The aim of the organisation is to create a society that gives all children a strong and positive relationship with their fathers and other male carers and prepares boys and girls for a future shared role in caring for children.
Fathers Direct is concerned that, in all its activities, it safeguards the well-being of every person in our community, of whatever age. Fathers Direct takes extremely seriously the responsibility of each one of us to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of every member of our community, and particularly the abuse of those most vulnerable among us, including children and young people.
It is the duty of all those who work with children and young people to prevent harm and abuse of every kind, and to report any abuse discovered or suspected. Fathers Direct acknowledges it has a responsibility for the safety of children that are directly involved in any of its events or activities, or when any disclosures are made concerning a child’s safety to Fathers Direct’s staff or volunteers. Good child protection policies and procedures are also of benefit to staff and volunteers, helping to provide protection from erroneous or malicious allegations.
Fathers Direct is committed to practices which protect children from harm. For the purpose of this policy, the Fathers Direct’s staff include not only all its employees but also all volunteers, Trustees and anyone else having a formal role in furtherance of the aims of the charity.
Fathers Direct endeavours to safeguard children by:
- child protection procedures and a code of practice for all who work on behalf of the organisation;
- reporting concerns to the authorities;
- following carefully procedures for recruitment and selection of staff, volunteers and Trustees; and providing effective management for all staff and volunteers through support and training.
- reviewing its Child Protection Policy and Code of Practice at regular intervals.
- Furthermore, Fathers Direct plans the work of the organisation so as to minimise situations where the abuse of children may occur.
It is Fathers Direct’s policy that:
All staff working on behalf of Fathers Direct will accept responsibility for the welfare of children who come into contact with the charity in connection with its tasks and functions; and that they will report any concerns about a child or somebody else’s behaviour, using the procedures laid down.
There is a designated child protection person within Fathers Direct who will take action following any expression of concern and the lines of responsibility in respect of child protection are clear.
The designated child protection person knows how to make appropriate referrals to child protection agencies.
All those who come into contact with children on behalf of Fathers Direct should adhere to the Code of Practice in relation to children.
Information relating to any allegation or disclosure will be clearly recorded as soon as possible, and there is a procedure setting out who should for record information and the time-scales for passing it on.
The Children Act 1987 states that the “welfare of the child is paramount”. This means that considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations should not be allowed to over-ride the right of children to be protected from harm. However, every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned when an allegation has been made and is being investigated.
Fathers Direct’s Child Protection policy, and its duty of care to children, will be referred to or included in recruitment, training and policy materials where appropriate, and the policies are openly and widely available to staff and actively promoted within the organisation.
A culture of mutual respect between children and Fathers Direct staff and volunteers will be encouraged in all its activities, with adults modelling good practice in this context.
All staff and volunteers and anyone in paid or unpaid work on behalf of Fathers Direct who could at any time have unsupervised access to children will be checked appropriately.
It is part of the Fathers Direct’s acceptance of its responsibility of duty of care towards children that anybody who encounters child protection concerns in the context of their work on behalf of Fathers Direct will be supported when they report their concerns in good faith.
Code of Practice
Fathers Direct expects that all its staff, which for these purposes includes anybody in paid or unpaid work on its behalf, will be aware of this Code of Practice and adhere to its principles in their approach to all children.
All Fathers Direct activities are to be organised so that staff generally spend no time alone with children, and in any event no longer than is necessary for the function of the event in question.
Parents/carers are informed clearly that they remain responsible for the welfare of their children at all Fathers Direct events – but Fathers Direct staff are also responsible for working in partnership with parents/carers to safeguard the welfare of their children.
It is important for staff not to have physical contact with children when their parents/carers are not present, and this should in any event in general be avoided.
It is not good practice for staff to take children alone in a car on journeys, however short.
Staff must not make suggestive or inappropriate remarks to or about a child, even in fun, as this could be misinterpreted.
It is important for staff not to deter children from making a ‘disclosure’ of abuse through fear of not being believed, and to listen to what they have to say. If this gives rise to a child protection concern it is important for staff to follow Fathers Direct’s procedure for reporting such concerns, and not to attempt to investigate the concern themselves.
Staff need to remember that those who abuse children can be of any age (even other children), gender, ethnic background or class, and it is important not to allow personal preconceptions about people to prevent appropriate action taking place.
Good practice includes valuing and respecting children as individuals, and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct – which will always exclude bullying, shouting, racism, sectarianism or sexism.
Role and Responsibilites of the Designated Child Protection Person (DCPP)
Fathers Direct has appointed a designated child protection person who is responsible for dealing with any concerns about the protection of children. This person is the Services Manager, contactable by telephone on +44 (0)1422 847825 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of the designated person(s) is to:
Know which outside child protection agency to contact in the event of a child protection concern coming to the notice of Fathers Direct.
Provide information and advice on child protection within Fathers Direct.
Ensure that appropriate information is available at the time of referral and that the referral is confirmed in writing under confidential cover.
Liaise with local social services and other agencies, as appropriate.
Keep relevant people within Fathers Direct informed about any action taken and any further action required; for example, disciplinary action against a member of staff.
Ensure that a proper record is kept of any referral and action taken, and that this is kept safely and in confidence.
Advise Fathers Direct of child protection training needs; and
Liaise with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to review the operation of the Child Protection Policy regularly to ensure the procedures are working and that it complies with current best practice.
Procedure for Reporting Concerns
Staff could have their suspicion or concern raised in a number of ways, the most likely of which are:
- the conduct of a member of Fathers Direct’s staff;
- a child “disclosing” abuse;
- bruising or evidence of physical hurt; which may or may not be accompanied by unusual behaviour by a child.
- disclosure or unusual behaviour of an adult, including members of staff from other agencies.
If a member of staff has such concerns they should be reported immediately by telephone to the DCPP and confirmed in writing within 24 hours. Delay could prejudice the welfare of a child. If the concerns relate to the conduct of a member of staff these should be reported by phone to the DCPP at the earliest opportunity.
The DCPP will consider the report and either refer this immediately to the authorities or, after taking appropriate advice, decide not to refer the concerns to the authorities but keep a full record of the concerns.
Definitions of Abuse
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. It may be the result of a deliberate act, but could also be caused through the omission or failure to act to protect.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve making a child feel or believe that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of, or consents to, what is happening. It may involve physical contact, including rape or oral sex, or non-penetrative acts such as fondling. Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and/or females, and by other young people. It also includes non-contact activities such as involving children in watching or taking part in the making of pornographic material, or encouraging children to behave in inappropriate ways.
Neglect is 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 or development. It may involve failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, or failing to ensure that a child gets appropriate medical care or treatment.
Recruitment and Selection Procedures
Fathers Direct has a policy that Staff have a minimum of unsupervised access to or contact with children in the normal course of their work. They are required to develop awareness of the issues which can cause children harm; and report concerns following the procedures set out in this document.
No-one shall work or volunteer within or on behalf of Fathers Direct who:
has been convicted of or has received a formal police caution concerning an offence against children as listed in the First Schedule of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933; or
has been convicted of or has received a formal police caution concerning sexual offences against children and young people.
This means that:
all who work or volunteer to work for Fathers Direct will be required to be checked through the Criminal Records Bureau, and are expected at all times to conform with good practice in their work; and
those responsible for the appointment of such workers and volunteers must take all reasonable steps, including obtaining Disclosures from the Criminal Records Bureau, to ensure that persons who have been convicted or have received a formal police caution concerning sexual offences against children or young people shall not undertake work with young people under the auspices of Fathers Direct
Appropriate recruitment and selection procedures for staff and volunteers in the context of child protection have been adopted by Fathers Direct and include the following.
A clear definition of any role so that the most suitable appointee can be identified.
Identification of key selection criteria.
A wide circulation of vacancies to ensure equal opportunities.
Confirmation of the identity of the applicant including personal details obtained either through using an application form where appropriate, or through other means.
Requirement of a declaration of previous convictions and submission to formal check, together with the issue of the Child Protection Policy for those candidates whose work will bring them into contact with children or who will have a management responsibility in relation to those whose work does bring them into such contact.
A clear guarantee that disclosed information will be treated in confidence and not used against applicants unfairly, including adherence to the Criminal Records Bureau code of practice.
Documentary evidence of qualifications.
Use of several selection techniques to maximise the chance of safe recruitment, eg interview, references, checks.
At least one representative from Fathers Direct meeting personally with every applicant, and an exploration of their attitudes towards working with children.
Responding Appropriately to a Child Making an Allegation of Abuse
Listen carefully to what is said.
Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets.
Tell the child that the matter will only be disclosed to those who need to know about it.
Allow the child to continue at her/his own pace.
Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer.
Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you.
Tell them what you will do next, and with whom the information will be shared.
Record in writing what was said, using the child’s own words as soon as possible – note the date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional child protection agencies, following a referral from the designated child protection person in the organisation.