Child Protection Policy

 

Commitment

 

SVS-Living Safe is committed to the prevention and early detection of abuse and/or neglect of children and young people. In all interaction with children and their family/whanau we will be guided by the principle that the welfare and interests of the child is the first and paramount consideration.

 

SVS- Living Safe is committed to dealing with abuse/suspected abuse or disclosure of abuse in a timely manner and is guided by the principle that the family/whanau have the primary role in caring for and protecting children. Unless this poses a risk to the child or to the safety of staff, family/whanau will be involved and informed  in all decision-making.

 

 

SVS-Living Safe is committed to complying with all relevant legislation.

 

 

Aims and Responsibilities

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for staff with which to identify and respond appropriately to concerns of abuse and neglect and to understand their role in keeping children safe. This policy aims to guide staff in safe working practices and ensures that the safety and rights of a child are protected.

 

 

This policy also sets out procedures for managing allegations against staff and ensures that complaints are taken seriously and managed effectively.

 

In all matters relating to a child, the safety of a child is SVS-Living Safe’s prime consideration.

 

 

Scope

 

This policy and associated guidelines and procedures apply to

 

  • all staff who have direct or indirect contact with children
  • all children who are clients of this organisation;
  • all children whom staff come into contact with in the course of their work with SVS- Living Safe.
  • Staff and volunteers of other organisations working on site at SVS-Living Safe premises with children, young people and families.

 

Review

 

This Policy and all its sub-policies and related policies, will be reviewed at least every three years, and updated regularly in light of clinical experience and in line with any changes in legislation.

 

 

 

Related documents

 

This Policy has the following related documents:

 

·       5.1 Complaints

 

·       7.1 Health and Safety

 

·       6.03 Workforce Development

 

·       6.19 Privacy, Confidentiality and Storage of Information

 

·       6. 02 Code of Ethics

 

·       6.01 Code of Conduct

 

·       6.18 Communications

 

·       6.11 Vehicle and Travel

 

·       6.08 Staff Training and Development

 

·       6.06 Induction

 

·       6.05 Police Vetting

 

 

 

Legislation

 

·       Human Rights Act (1993)

 

·       Privacy Act (1993)

 

·       Vulnerable Children Act (2014)

 

·       Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015

 

·       Children Young Persons and their Families Act 1989

 

·       Crimes Act 1961

 

·       Domestic Violence Act 1995

 

·       Care of Children Act 2004

 

 

 

Definitions

 

Children” for the purposes of this policy is defined as someone under the age of 18

 

“Staff” is defined as anyone working for this organisation, whether paid, voluntary, contracted or on placement.

 

“DPCP” refers to the Designated Person for Child Protection

 

 

 

Responsibilities for Child Protection Policy and procedures

 

Overall responsibility for this Policy rests with the General Manager. This includes ensuring that all staff are aware of the policy and its contents.

 

SVS-Living Safe will ensure that:

 

  • All staff receive appropriate training on identifying child abuse, fully understand their obligation to act in the interests of the child and know what steps to take to ensure the immediate safety of any child whom they are concerned about.
  • Staff will receive  training with annual reviews  in identifying and responding to child abuse and neglect, including vulnerability and risk as well as any changes in legislation.
  • Concerns relating to a child, entries in the Register of Concerns regarding increased risk advised by the Clinician, and subsequent Reports of Concern are regularly reviewed and re-assessed by the Designated Person for Child Protection.
  • Staff receive adequate support and supervision in situations of suspected child abuse and neglect.
  • Staff have regular Professional external supervision with appropriately qualified supervisors
  • Staff are carefully selected in line with Safer Recruitment legislation and guidelines and with the principles of this policy in mind.

 

 

 

Definitions of Child Abuse

 

 

 

The Children, Young Persons and their Families Act, 1989, defines child abuse as "…the harming (whether physically, emotionally, sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect, or deprivation of any child or young person”.

 

The following definitions are provided for guidance but should not be seen as an exhaustive list.

 

Physical abuse is a non-accidental act on a child that results in physical harm.  This includes, but is not limited to, beating, hitting, shaking, burning, drowning, suffocating, biting, poisoning or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical abuse also involves the fabrication or inducing of illness.

 

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effect on the child's emotional development. This can include a pattern of rejecting, degrading, ignoring, isolating, corrupting, exploiting or terrorising a child. It may also include age or developmentally inappropriate or unrealistic expectations being imposed on children. It also includes the seeing or hearing the ill treatment of others.

 

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities (penetrative and non-penetrative, for example, rape, kissing, touching, masturbation) as well as non-contact acts such as involving children in the looking at or production of sexual images, sexual activities and sexual behaviours.

 

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, causing long term serious harm to the child's heath or development.  It may also include neglect of a child's basic or emotional needs. Neglect is a lack: of action, emotion or basic needs.

 

Intimate Partner Violence or Family Violence is physical, emotional, sexual and other abuse by someone of a person with whom they have or have had some form of intimate relationship, such as marriage or cohabitation, in order to maintain power and control over a person. Such abuse places a child at risk of abuse and  likely has subjected the child to emotional abuse

 

Cumulative Harm refers to the effects of patterns of circumstances and events in a child’s life, which diminish a child’s sense of safety, stability and wellbeing. Cumulative harm is the existence of compounded experiences of multiple episodes of abuse or ‘layers’ of neglect. The unremitting daily impact on the child can be profound and exponential, covering multiple dimensions of the child’s life.

 

For further information, staff can refer to the “How can I Tell?” booklet published by Child Matters, a copy of which is held at each SVS-Living Safe offices.

 

 

 

 

Child Protection Procedures

 

This section describes the procedure to be followed by all staff who have concerns about a child suffering or at risk of suffering from abuse or neglect. This section also outlines the procedure for managing a disclosure of abuse or neglect in relation to a child.

 

 

 

Staff roles and responsibilities

 

  • Staff will not work alone where there are concerns for a child. When concerns are held about a child, abuse is suspected or disclosed, staff will consult immediately with the Designated Person for Child Protection (DPCP) and/ or the General Manager who will ensure action is taken in accordance with these procedures.
  • In case of staff being unable to contact the General Manager or DPCP, advice should be sought from a duty social worker at  Ministry of Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) or the Police.
  • Staff will not question extensively a child who has disclosed abuse or who is displaying signs or symptoms of possible abuse. However, it is important that a child is listened to and responded to appropriately. More information is attached at Appendix C.
  • In all instances of concern for a child, the child’s welfare and best interests must be at the centre of any action or decision made.
  • The safety of the child is the first consideration. The DPCP together with the relevant staff member and the General Manager will assess the information to ascertain whether the child is currently at risk and in immediate danger.
  • If immediate safety, care and/ or protection concerns are held, the DPCP in consultation with the General Manager, will ensure urgent action is taken either by way of Report of Concern to Child Youth and Family or the Police. Reports of Concern to MVCOT  or notifications to Police will be completed by the relevant staff member and the DPCP working in partnership. All Reports of Concern to Child Youth and Family will be prepared and submitted through the EXESS Client Management system and a copy added to the Register of Concerns.
  • Where a report of concern has been submitted, acknowledgment of receipt received from MVCOT mus be filed on the client file and register of concern
  •  It is the responsibility of the DPCP to ensure best practice is followed. Reports of Concern to  MVCOT will be stored in the Register of Concerns along with the related records of concerns. 
  • All suspicions and information will be recorded factually, accurately recording what is observed or heard. If information is received from another party, this should be clearly noted.
  • It is acknowledged that all children are at risk of abuse and neglect where family violence is a feature of family life. When the child is our client, we are working with them as a result of such risk and abuse. Specific concerns  or identified risk that is above and beyond the emotional abuse that impacts every child  where family violence is evident need to be recorded in the Register of Concerns.
  • Concerns of abuse and neglect of a child must be recorded by the relevant staff member on a Record of Concern (see Appendix A) and entered in the Register of Concerns. The Record of Concern will indicate a summary of the concern with the full details being recorded on the clients file.
  •  Concerns relating to  current risk of  abuse or neglect of a child will be assessed as high risk and coded red. (See Appendix D for safety and  risk categories)
  • At any time, any member of staff who has concerns regarding care and protection of a child may telephone MVCOT on 0508 FAMILY
  • If the child is assessed as currently safe, the staff member  will continue to review on a weekly basis, to reassess the risks for the child.   Other review updates completed by the Clinician will be noted in the Record of Concern. A review with the DPCP is required where risk increases therefore a notification decision needs to be reviewed. It is the responsibility of the Clinician to bring this to the DPCP attention  and cc in the General Manager. The DPCP and staff member will assess if further action is required and ensure additional supports and protective measures, as appropriate are in place. All reviews and additional information will be recorded on the Record of Concern and held confidentially in the Register of Concerns.
  • Unless it poses a risk to the child, to the safety of staff, or that there is strong likelihood that evidence will be destroyed, family/whanau will be informed of concerns and involved in decision-making. This will not override a decision to report a concern to the MVCOT if the risk is identified.

 

Designated Person for Child Protection (DPCP)

 

The Designated Person for Child Protection as appointed by the General Manager, will:

 

·        Be available to staff in a timely manner by way of face to face meeting or telephone contact, for consultation, advice and supervision where concerns in relation to a child have been raised.

 

·        Advise on Best Practice in relation to child abuse disclosure, suspicions or concerns, recording and reporting.

 

·        Ensure relationships and contact details for MVCOT and Police are maintained and made available to staff.

 

·        Ensure the safety and wellbeing of children come first and is paramount in any decision making

 

·        Meet  with all staff and services to review and monitor entries made in the Register of Concerns where there are concerns about a child.

 

·        Review risk assessment and coding together with safety plans for all clients of SVS-Living Safe where children are involved

 

·        Receive any information from staff relating to the vulnerability, risk of harm or abuse/ neglect of a child.

 

·        Make decisions in consultation with the General Manager as to whether or not the matter warrants a Report of Concern to  MVCOT or notification to Police and work in partnership with the relevant staff member to ensure this is done in accordance with best practice

 

·        DPCP or delegate to the Clinician follow up any MVCOT Report of Concern within 3 days of it being made if no response is received and seek email confirmation that the notification has been received.

 

·        Forward email notification to Clinician to record on the client’s file

 

·        Ensure together with the General Manager that any Report of Concern to Child Youth and Family or Police which has not been dealt with satisfactorily or where there are still concerns held by SVS-LS in relation to a child, is advocated at senior levels both within MVCOT and Police. 

 

·        Ensure procedures within this policy are followed in situations where a further Report of Concern is required to  MVCOT in relation to a child.

 

 

 

Confidentiality and Information Sharing

 

SVS-Living Safe encourages the sharing of information provided all appropriate steps have been taken.

 

Information received about a child will be treated in a discreet and confidential manner.

 

 

SVS-Living Safe recognises that all staff must act within the legal requirements of the Privacy Act, Children Young Persons and their Families Act and other statues.

 

 

All staff will follow the process as outlined Responding to Information Requests as contained in Appendix F.  Information concerning a child and requested by others not listed on Appendix F will only be given out after consultation with the General Manager. Staff will not share any information that will endanger a child.

 

 

In situations where consent needs to be obtained, staff must ensure the person who has given consent understands

 

  • Why people are being told information
  • What will happen to the information
  • Who will be told what
  • Who they will then pass the information on to.

 

All information requests, together with information shared must be recorded on the relevant client file.

 

 

 

Relationships with External Agencies

 

SVS- Living Safe places importance on good working relationships with other agencies that support SVS-Living Safe in child protection matters.

 

SVS-Living Safe will ensure that staff undertake an active programme for maintaining the relationships between agencies- both NGO’s and government agencies, including a good working relationship with  MVCOT , and Police.

 

Contact details for all agencies, MVCOT and Police will be kept and updated by the Designated Person for Child Protection and coordinated.

 

 

Managing Allegations Against Staff

 

This section outlines the procedure to be followed if an allegation of child abuse or neglect is made against a member of staff.

 

  • SVS-Living Safe will respond to suspicions and allegations of child abuse against a staff member with the same seriousness as suspicions or allegations made against any other person.
  • The safety of the child will be paramount and no staff member of SVS-Living Safe will collude to protect an adult of an organisation.
  • Staff will not question extensively a child who has disclosed abuse or who is displaying signs or symptoms of possible abuse. However, it is important that a child is listened to and responded to appropriately.
  • SVS-Living Safe will ensure that provision is made for ongoing support and safety plans for the child as well as appropriate services for the child’s caregivers/ parents. 
  • Staff who have concerns about abuse by another staff member against a child will immediately inform the General Manager. If the allegations are made against the General Manager staff will declare the concerns to the Chair of the Board.
  • All suspicions, disclosures and information will be recorded factually, accurately recording what is observed or heard. If information is received from another party, this should be clearly noted.
  • Allegations of abuse and neglect of a child by a staff member must be recorded by the relevant staff member on a Record of Concern and passed to the appointed person managing the concern. Information relating to staff allegations of abuse will be stored by the General Manager.
  • When there are suspicions of abuse by a staff member, both staff and children’s rights will be attended to. This means that the safety of the child is of first concern, and that the staff member must have access to legal and professional advice and support.
  • The suspected staff member will be prevented from having further unsupervised contact with the child during any part of the investigation. A risk assessment will be undertaken to determine what level of access, if any, the suspected individual should have to other children.
  • SVS-Living Safe will not act alone and will refer all situations of suspected child abuse by staff to MVCOT  or Police as well as adhering to all Employment Contract Act obligations
  • SVS-Living Safe will continue to liaise with MVCOT and the Police regarding the progress of any investigation.
  • If Police decide to undertake a criminal investigation then the member of staff may be suspended, without prejudice, as a precautionary measure. It is important that no internal investigation is undertaken and no evidence gathered that might prejudice the criminal investigation
  • Where allegations are made against staff, any ongoing internal investigation will continue if that staff member resigns (unless to do so might prejudice any criminal investigation
  • If there is insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal conviction, a disciplinary investigation may still be undertaken by SVS- Living Safe.

 

 

Safer Recruitment

 

SVS-Living Safe is committed to ensuring that all staff are appropriately safety checked in accordance with current safety checking legislation and requirements.

 

 

Safe Working Practices

 

All staff who work with children or who come into contact with children during the course of their work have a duty to keep children safe and protect them from harm. Children have a right to be safe, and to be treated with respect and dignity.

 

 

This section gives guidance as to the expectation placed on staff in relation to staff behaviour and conduct with children. SVS-Living Safe expect staff to have a high standard of behaviour based on strong professional boundaries and ethics, in order to protect children from abuse and risk, and to protect staff from unwarranted suspicion.

 

 

The following practices are not an exhaustive list and staff are expected to make good judgements about their interaction with children based on integrity and professionalism, ensuring that the welfare of children will always be the paramount consideration.

 

All staff will have a clear understanding of SVS-Living Safe’s Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics and ensure that these Codes are followed at all times.

 

 

Staff will be guided by the following;

 

Personal Relationships

 

  • In all interactions with children, staff will ensure they respect their position of trust and authority and ensure their position is not used for personal advantage or gratification.
  • Interactions with children will be respectful, caring and professional.
  • Communication and contact between staff and children will take place within clear professional boundaries.
  • Contact by whatever means, with children and families will take place during working hours and will be accurately recorded and transparent.
  • Unless otherwise approved by the General Manager, no child should be invited into the home of a member of staff.

 

SVS-Living Safe recognises there may be times when social interaction outside of working hours may occur between a child or family and member of staff working with them. If this does occur, details of this must be given to the General Manager who will assess whether a conflict of interest exists. A record of this decision will be held by the General Manager.

 

 

Physical Interaction  

 

There are occasions when it is appropriate to have physical contact with a child. If this is seen as necessary, staff must ensure this is done in ways appropriate to their professional roles.

 

 

When physical contact is made with a child this should be in response to their needs at the time, of limited duration and appropriate to their age, stage of development, gender, ethnicity and background.

 

 

 

Technology including social media

 

  • Staff will ensure they use only equipment provided by SVS-Living Safe to communicate with children, making sure that parents have given their permission for this form of communication to be used.
  • Staff will not contact children using personal devices or personal social media accounts
  • Written parental consent must be sought for all photographs or videos taken of children, whether they are intended for internal or external use. All photographs and recordings must be carried out using SVS-Living Safe equipment and gain prior approval from the General Manager.
  • Care must be taken by staff to ensure that children are not exposed to any unsuitable material by way of internet, films or any other material.

 

 

 

Supervision of children

 

  • Staff as part of their  roles regularly  work with youth and follow the Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics and SVs-Living Safe policies at all times. Staff will ensure parental consent is gained to contact with a child which may take place outside of the workplace or outside of usual working hours.
  • On occasion there may be a need for a staff member to visit a child at home. Where this is necessary, the relevant staff member will provide details to the General Manager and will ensure reasonable and sensible precautions are taken.

 

 

 

Positive Role Modelling

 

Refer to SVS-Living Safe’s Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics.

 

 

 

Giving and Receiving of gifts.

 

SVS- Living Safe acknowledges that in the course of engaging with a child, children may give gifts to staff members as a token of appreciation or for supporting positive behaviour. Staff may also give gifts to children to recognise particular achievements.

 

In order that children and staff are kept safe and that gifts are not misinterpreted, staff must give gifts openly to the child and ensure they are not based on favouritism. Any gift received from a child to a staff member may be accepted having regard to professional boundaries.

 

 

Transporting of children

 

Staff who are required to transport children as part of their role and engagement with children should ensure they follow the  Vehicle and Transport policy.

 

 

 

Reporting concerns

 

Staff will report to the General Manager and/or Designated Person for Child Protection and record any situation which may place a child at risk or which may compromise SVS-Living Safe or their own professional standing

 

 

Prevention

 

SVS- Living safe is committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Prevention is achieved through:

 

  • Employment of new staff will follow guidelines as set out in the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014
  • The Child Protection Policy will be available in hard copy and available on SVS-Living Safe website
  • Providing a child safe environment
  • Modelling of positive discipline of children by all SVS-Living Safe staff
  • Posters and information relating to safe parenting practices will be displayed

 

SVS-Living Safe delivers services into Malborough, Nelson, Motueka,, Golden Bay and the West Coast. Please contact our Nelson office for information.

Nelson Office

124 Vanguard Street

Phone: 03 548 3850

Txt: 027 548 3850

Fax: 03 548 3852

Motueka Office

Jack Inglis Hospital

15b Courtney Street

Phone: 03 528 8976