2.3 Voluntary Agencies and Sports, Cultural and Recreational Activities

SCOPE AND GUIDANCE

This protocol details the expectations that the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) has of all agencies and organisation working within Norfolk which provide any activity outside of a statutory requirement.

This includes any educational, cultural, sporting, spiritual, leisure or recreational opportunity for children and young people on a full time, part time, commercial or voluntary basis.

Working Together 2015 (WT15) Chapter 2 Para 43 states that:

  • “Voluntary organisations and private sector providers play an important role in delivering services to children. They should have the same arrangements described in paragraph 4 of this chapter in place in the same way as organisations in the public sector, and need to work effectively with the LSCB (NSCB). Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they respond to child protection concerns and make a referral to local authority children’s social care or the police if necessary.”

This protocol details the above requirements of paragraph 4 in line with the expectations of multi-agency working within Norfolk.

This protocol makes reference to staff, please read this as all people working with children, young people and their families in either a paid or voluntary capacity.

Other legislation relevant to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children within the voluntary, private and community context is as follows:

  • Children Act 2004;
  • Education Act 2002;
  • Children Act 1989;
  • Childcare Act 2006;
  • Crime and Disorder Act 1998;
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005

AMENDMENT

This chapter was added to this manual in March 2014.  

1. Principles

1.1 Working Together 2015

This protocol is to be used by the above organisations to understand how to apply the requirements of Working Together 2015 (WT15) based around two key principles:

  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part: and
  • A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children. (WT15 Introduction Para 14)

1.2 NSCB Principles

The NSCB has developed 10 principles for professionals working with children and their families in Norfolk. These should underpin all your work:

  • We will communicate with children and young people in a way that enables them to communicate with us. We will observe, listen and act, taking into consideration their wishes and feelings;
  • Referrals will be made to Children’s Services using the form NSCB1 including as much information as possible to ensure an informed response. Children’s Services will respond to the referrer within two working days via either the response sheet of the NSCB1 or the telephone;
  • Professional challenge, and acceptance of challenge, within and between agencies, is as integral to good practice as is mutual professional respect. All professionals should challenge decisions or practice they believe puts or leaves a child at risk of harm;
  • The decision whether to have a strategy meeting or discussion will be made involving all relevant professionals;
  • Where they have safeguarding concerns, all agencies must compile and maintain a chronology of significant events for the child;
  • All agencies must research background information and will request and read files from other locality areas and/or local authorities if needed. This information will form part of the assessment;
  • Assessments must be multi-agency, including all relevant professionals involved with the child and their family. All agencies must take proper account of diversity, identity and developmental issues for the child and their family. Joint visits will be promoted as a means of assessment and information sharing whenever possible;
  • New assessments/interventions with children/families should build on previous assessments and consider past information. Professionals should be cautious of the ‘start-again syndrome’ in long-term cases;
  • Our plans will be child-centred, SMART and have timescales that meet the child’s needs;
  • Parents and carers will be supported but the primary focus will always be on the child, and consider “what does it feel like to be this child living in this family?”.

2. Staff

2.1 Recruitment

It is your responsibility to have done everything you can to ensure that adults are safe to be working with children and young people.

It is expected that all groups and organisations in Norfolk follow the Safer Recruitment Guidance, as published by the NSCB in June 2013. The guidance sets out best practice and should be used to develop and embed a process that ensures people who are employed to work with children and young people are safe to do so.

A safer recruitment process deters applications from those who are unsuitable to work with children and young people, rejects applicants that are identified as unsuitable and attracts the best possible applicants to your group/organisation, whether they are paid or volunteers.

2.2 Training

Everyone working with children and young people should be trained in safeguarding and child protection at the appropriate level.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all members of staff have access to high quality training which enables them to understand their own responsibilities relevant to their role, how to identify and respond to the symptoms and triggers of abuse and neglect, and the responsibilities of other agencies.

It is the role of the NSCB to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training for all professionals in the area and in doing so has highlighted the following areas:

  • If you are commissioning training, it is highly recommended that you either use the NSCB Safer Programme or ensure that the training has been validated by the NSCB. This ensures all safeguarding training is of the highest possible standard delivered by competent and well informed trainers;
  • If you are delivering in-house training, it is expected that you will get it validated by the NSCB, this will ensure your training is in line with the NSCB expectations for content and quality.

2.3 Safer Staffing

It is important to recognise that ensuring adults are safe to work with children and young people, does not stop at the end of the recruitment process. You should have in place processes that monitor and provide support to staff including a full induction process and adequate supervision levels. You must also ensure that all working procedures are risk assessed and have clear procedures in place e.g. use of mobile phones.

The NSCB is developing a guidance document to support organisations in developing safer staffing practices.

2.4 Whistle blowing

Your organisation should have a whistle blowing policy in place and a culture that enables staff to discuss concerns with the appropriate person if they have witnessed behaviour they consider inappropriate or harmful to children and young people.

You should ensure that all staff are empowered to raise concerns through a clear process that prevents victimisation or reprisal.

It is your responsibility to notify the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) Team in all cases in which it is alleged that a person who works with children has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against children, or related to a child;
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children.

2.5 Complaints

Users of your service (and others) should be made aware of how to make complaints and feel safe and supported in doing so. It is expected that your organisation will have a complaints procedure in place and a system that allows you to learn from any complaints made. WT13 states that “Professionals and organisations protecting children need to reflect on the quality of their services and learn from their own practice and that of others” p.65.

You should feel safe and able to complain about other agencies where you feel you have not received appropriate services, note this is different to escalation as detailed below in Section 3.5.

3. Practice

3.1 Child Centred

WT13 highlights that the most effective safeguarding systems are child centred. It is imperative that the child’s needs are placed ahead of the interests of any adults.

This means you should have working practices that encourage children to be respected, their views to be heard, and that their relationships with staff are built on trust and consistent support for their individual needs.

You should also be alert to the needs of the children accessing your service and be prepared to provide support and advocacy.

3.2 Early Help and Assessments

Individuals working within the community with children should be alert to early warning signs of abuse and neglect, be prepared to share that information with other professionals, as appropriate, and provide active support for the child where required.

This means that you should:

  • know who to talk to in your area should you have any concerns about a child;
  • know how to make referrals to Norfolk’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) (see the separate Referrals Chapter for further information);
  • have a policy on Information-Sharing which details your processes and principles for sharing information;
  • be involved in multi-agency assessments where requested to do so;
  • be prepared to provide further support where required;
  • be prepared to work alongside other agencies.

The NSCB should publish the thresholds for action, and the type and level of services that will be provided so everyone is clear about what to expect. (See the separate Norfolk Thresholds chapter for further information).

If you make a referral through MASH you should expect to hear feedback on the decision made within 24 hours. If you have not had notification then you are entitled to follow this up until you get a reply.

3.3 Seeking Advice and Guidance

Working with children can be complex and challenging and even experienced professionals are not always clear as to what action they should take. Therefore it is important to seek advice and guidance when you are unsure of what to do.

It is important to know who to contact and how best to do this. The NSCB has produced a leaflet entitled Child Protection and Safeguarding Consultation Lines which details the process for seeking advice and having a consultation.

You are expected to use this process and in turn, you can expect other agencies to follow this too.

3.4 Record Keeping

It is important that all records are kept in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act (1998) and that when disclosures are made this is recorded accurately. You are expected to ensure all confidential information is kept securely stored and access is restricted to relevant people. Appropriate safeguarding training will detail how to record properly in the event of a disclosure so you must make sure staff have attended this.

3.5 Escalation

If you feel the response you have been given, in the event of a consultation, has not been adequate to meet the needs of the child or you feel leaves the child at risk of harm you can make a referral in the usual way through the MASH.

If you feel at any other point, including after making a referral, that the response is not adequate then please refer to the NSCB Escalation Policy, which details the escalation options available. (See Resolving Professional Disagreements Procedure for further details).

It is your responsibility to ensure that where you have concerns that you do all that you can to get the earliest possible help for the child. This means you have to be prepared to challenge other agencies and professionals.

4. Governance

4.1 Trustees and Board Members

Trustees of charities which work with vulnerable groups including children have a duty of care to their charity which will include taking the necessary steps to safeguard and take responsibility for their beneficiaries. It is a legal requirement that if your charity works with vulnerable people, you need to take the necessary steps to safeguard them. In addition, all organisations have legal responsibilities regarding the staff and volunteers being safe to work with children.

Trustees, Board Members and Committee Members should be aware of their responsibilities and obligations in relation to safeguarding. This means:

  • nominating a Board level Safeguarding lead;
  • ensuring all policies and procedures are in place;
  • assessing, testing and monitoring the effectiveness of the policies and procedures;
  • ensuring a Designated Lead for Safeguarding is appointed.

4.2 Policies and Procedures

Every organisation, no matter what size, should have safeguarding policies and procedures in place that cover all working practices and link to other relevant polices such as Health and Safety.

The policy should include details of the following:

  • identifying concerns of suspected harm;
  • clear reporting procedures;
  • that all investigations into suspected child protection issues are carried out by the relevant authorities (Children’s Service/Police), and not the organisation itself;
  • sharing information within appropriate legal frameworks.

4.3 Section 11

There are now many more voluntary and private providers delivering services on behalf of the statutory organisations, and this is likely to increase.

It is the responsibility of the commissioning organisation to ensure “that any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children” (WT13, p.47). This is set out in Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 and is often referred to as Section 11 requirements.

In practice this means having in place all the items set out in this protocol AND participating in the annual audit conducted by the NSCB. The NSCB will request certain information from you as an organisation and you will have to provide it. Only organisations commissioned to provide services will be included in this audit, however it is good practice for everyone to adhere to the Section 11 requirements.

4.4 Working Together 2015

It is highly recommended that at least one person in your organisation has read, understood and is able to refer to the Working Together 2015 guidance.

5. Further Support

  • If you would like to discuss this protocol with someone please contact the NSCB;
  • If you would like further help with safeguarding policies and training please contact the SAFER Programme at the NSCB;
  • If you are a voluntary or community group and would like further help around running a club/group/organisation and governance please contact Momentum (Norfolk).
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