Safeguarding in the Early Years

March 18, 2019 12:56 pm
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If you work in Early Years it is important you comply with safeguarding measures and understand fully what safeguarding is, understand the different types of abuse and your role in terms of safeguarding.

In this article we are going to talk about:

  1. What is safeguarding? – definition and types of abuse.
  2. A short timeline of how legislation for child safeguarding was formed and what guidance documents are essential for any early years setting.
  3. Safeguarding and Welfare – what early years settings can do to enforce it.
  4. Laura Henry – Policy and Procedures: Safeguarding
  1. What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is defined as using appropriate measures to protect individuals, especially children and young people, from harm such as abuse and neglect. This includes all procedures designed to prevent harm to a child.

Child Protection is part of the safeguarding process, protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes the child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.

In order to fully understand safeguarding and the role it plays, it is important to know what constitutes abuse. It can be verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, financial or even neglect and can lead to the victim being hurt, upset, frightened or manipulated into doing something they know is wrong or do not want to do. Another issue is that the person subjected to the abuse may find it hard to report the matter.

Types of abuse all practitioners should be aware of and understand are:

  • Domestic abuse – Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. Domestic abuse can seriously harm children and young people. Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse.
  • Sexual abuse – A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physical contact and it can happen online. Sometimes the child won’t understand that what’s happening to them is abuse.
  • Neglect – Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse. A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care.
  • Physical abuse – Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child, causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts. It isn’t accidental.
  • Emotional abuse – Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development.
  • Child sexual exploitation – Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them.
  • FGM – Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as female circumcision or cutting.
  • Child trafficking – Child trafficking and modern slavery are child abuse. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold.

More information about these types of abuse and others can be found in our Preventing Child Abuse booklet and online at the NSPCC.

  1. A short timeline of how legislation for child safeguarding was formed and what guidance documents are essential for any early years setting

In 1884, the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was founded to provide help for children. Branches opened all across Great Britain and Ireland and it was renamed the NSPCC.

The first safeguarding act was the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act 1889. This allowed police to arrest anyone mistreating a child and enter homes to prevent danger to children.

In 1948, the first Children’s Act was established. A committee was established and a children’s officer was appointed in each local authority. The grasp of what child safeguarding needed to entail was beginning to come to light and organisations were adapting to this.

By 1974, the recognition of the importance of multi-agency working was recognised and Area Child Protection Committees were developed in England and Wales to coordinate efforts locally to safeguard children at risk.

In 1989, the Children Act made children’s welfare a paramount concern of the courts and centred the idea that children were best looked after by their families.

In 1999, the Protection of Children Act was formed which aimed to prevent paedophiles from gaining employment and gave them access to children. This can be related to how DBS checks work today and the ‘barred lists’ which contain information of individual people who have been banned from working with vulnerable adults or children for safeguarding purposes.

Moving into the 2000s, in 2002 the Education Act required school governing bodies, local education authorities and further education institutions to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The most current Children Act was introduced in 2004 and mandated local authorities to appoint a children’s director and replace ACPS with what is now known today as statutory local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs). In an early years setting you should be aware of the LSCBs in your local area.

In 2006, the first statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, was released, outlining inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. This was updated in 2010.

In 2014, the Children and Families Act 2014 obtained royal assent and became law, giving greater protection to vulnerable children.

Most recently, in July 2018, Working Together to Safeguard Children was fully overhauled and updated to include two additional supporting documents, transitional arrangements and legislation relevant to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Additionally, in the same month, ‘information sharing’ was updated.

Keeping Children Safe in Education was then updated in September 2018, followed by Statutory Guidance on Female Genital Mutilation, and Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years Education and Skills were updated in October 2018.

The shift from traditional intervention measures for child protection we can see in the 18 and early 1900s to a more all-encompassing approach in the 1900s to 2000 was influenced by the first Joint Chief Inspectors’ Safeguarding Children Report in 2002 and the Victoria Climbié Inquiry (2003).

Working Together 2006 took account of shortcomings in safeguarding exposed in the intervening years, not least the failure of multiple agencies to prevent the death of Victoria Climbie in Haringey, north London. The far-reaching Every Child Matters programme and the consequent Children Act 2004 both, in large part prompted by the Climbie affair, had also altered the landscape.

The Every Child Matters programme outlined in the Children Act 2004 formalised these changes in approach into a legislative framework. Every Child Matters aimed to improve outcomes for children in five key areas; being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being.

It is vital that all early years settings have access to all of the government’s safeguarding policies and documents and that every early years practitioner has read these. Additionally, it is important for all early years practitioners to make the effort to read supporting documents to understand the full scope of child safeguarding and what it involves.

A list of these documents and relevant legislation:

  1. Safeguarding and Welfare what early years settings can do to enforce it?

The EYFS requirements are divided into four areas: learning and development and safeguarding and welfare.

The safeguarding and welfare requirements are designed to ensure that childcare providers promote the welfare of children and keep them safe and well.

To make sure you are meeting the requirements of safeguarding and welfare in early years setting, you can:

  • Have safeguarding policies and procedures – Have fully-implemented safeguarding policies and designated safeguarding leads that communicate with the relevant local authorities when necessary. All procedures and policies must be updated regularly.
  • Training – All staff must be given full safeguarding training, including training on the setting’s policies and procedures. This training must be repeated frequently and developed. Staff must also fully understand how to respond to any concerns regarding child protection. This includes practitioners recording anything about a child that concerned them, for example, unexplained bruises or odd behaviour. These things should be recorded on a specific form such as a Cause for Concern form.

  • Behaviour – Staff must be fully trained on appropriate behaviours and anything such as smacking or punishments must be strictly forbidden. Staff must also make sure they record any incidents of unacceptable or ‘out of the ordinary’ behaviour from children. One way of doing this is to have a simple Behaviour Incident Form or something similar.

  • Records and Information – The EYFS defines that records must be kept on children and staff. These records must be safely stored to meet GDPR regulations and updated when necessary. These records must be shared with other professionals when needed and in confidence. The rules about what must/can be shared are contained within the EYFS.
  • Health and Safety – All staff in a setting must be aware of and understand the current health and safety policies and procedures. The promotion of good health for the children in a setting is vital. There must be procedures in place for things such as when children fall ill, fire, first-aid and healthy snacks etc. Food hygiene training must be undertaken by anyone preparing food and the relevant food hygiene rules and standards must be applied.
  • Understanding types of and categories of abuse – It is essential that all staff understand at least the four categories of abuse that may be seen in children. These are physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
  • Suitability of staff – Ensure the suitability of adults who have contact with your children by completing the relevant DBS checks.
  • Roles of other professionals in the protection of children – All staff must understand the role other professionals and bodies play in the protection of the children in their setting, for example, health visitors, social workers and police.
  1. Laura Henry – Policy and Procedures: Safeguarding

Laura Henry, an early years consultant who is also an award-winning expert in early years education in the UK and abroad, has written an article about policy and procedures within safeguarding. This article explains how early years settings can pen and embed an effective child protection policy and procedure.

Laura says: ‘One of the most important documents an early years setting needs in place is a safeguarding and child protection policy and procedure. Your policy should state the overriding principle of the document and set out what you seek to do, while a procedure should set out the steps you take to adhere to what is stated and should be followed, especially if it links to legislation.’

Laura goes on to explain that you should include an overarching statement of your commitment to safeguarding children ‘considering of their health, development, safety, welfare and wellbeing, and how these are paramount at all times.’

Laura also says that your document should include:

  • An explanation of the role of the Designated Safeguarding Officer
  • Information on how you can appropriately support children, according to their age, stage and ability
  • Inform parents of your commitment to and role in safeguarding children
  • Information about your recruitment procedures
  • How your safeguarding documents are shared with your staff
  • Procedures for when child protection concerns arise
  • How staff receive regular professional development
  • Allegations against staff will need to be investigated
  • A whistle-blowing procedure
  • An ICT policy

Laura says: ‘Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility, and your policy and procedure is your initial obligation in keeping children safe and their wellbeing a priority’.

To view Laura’s full article please follow this link: https://www.teachearlyyears.com/nursery-management/view/policy-and-procedures-safeguarding

More of Nursery Resources’ range of safeguarding records and forms can be viewed here


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