Protecting children

Do you have a written safeguarding and child protection policy statement and procedures for responding to child protection concerns?

Any organisation that works with or comes into contact with children and young people must have a safeguarding and child protection policy statement. This should be signed by the most senior person in your organisation who has responsibility for safeguarding and child protection.

> More information about writing a safeguarding and child protection policy statement

> Listen to our podcast on setting up safeguarding policies and procedures

> Make sure everyone knows how to respond to concerns about a child's wellbeing

Does your organisation have individuals who have responsibility for safeguarding and child protection?

Your organisation should have a nominated child protection lead who takes responsibility for child protection and safeguarding on a daily basis. Any member of staff or volunteer who has a concern about a child should be able to contact them easily. You should also have someone at a senior level who oversees child protection. Registered charities should have a lead trustee for safeguarding.

> Find out more about the role of a nominated child protection lead

> Listen to our podcast on the role of the nominated child protection lead

> Listen to our podcast on the role of the safeguarding trustee 

Do you provide regular child protection training for your staff and volunteers, and provide regular opportunities for them to reflect on their practice?

Everyone's knowledge about child protection should be up to date and anyone who works with children must have regular opportunities to reflect on their experiences and improve their practice.

> More information about our child protection training  

> Use our safeguarding scenarios to start discussions with staff and volunteers about safeguarding topics

Do you have a written behaviour code for everyone in your organisation?

A behaviour code for adults and children/young people sets out your organisation's expectations and makes it clear what behaviour is and is not acceptable.

> See example behaviour codes for adults and children and young people

You may also find the NCVO code of ethics helpful.

Can staff, volunteers, families and children easily access information about how you keep children safe?

Your safeguarding and child protection policy statement should be easily available for children and families to access.

> Find out more about writing a safeguarding and child protection policy statement

Do you make sure that everyone feels comfortable about raising concerns?

It's important to proactively create and maintain a safer culture in your organisation.

This includes:

  • continuously reviewing child protection policies, practice and procedures;
  • displaying information about Childline and the NSPCC helpline so that children and adults know where they can go for help and advice;
  • giving children and young people the opportunity to discuss topics such as online safety and healthy relationships;
  • making sure children and young people know your organisation is a safe place to raise any concerns they may have.

> Look at our safeguarding resources

> Find out how to write a safeguarding and child protection policy statement

> Use our teaching resources to help start discussions with young people about safeguarding topics

> Use our safeguarding scenarios to start discussions with staff and volunteers about safeguarding topics

> Order or download Childline posters

> Order or download Helpline posters

Do you have a system for asking children and young people what they think you should be doing to keep children and young people safe and acting on their views?

By talking to young people regularly about how you can help keep them safe, you can make sure your safeguarding measures are up to date and that you are responding to any situations that may arise in their lives.

> More information about how to involve children, young people and families in developing your safeguarding and child protection procedures is available in our Safeguarding Standards

Do you have a written procedure for situations where allegations of abuse are made against an adult working or volunteering in your organisation, including when and how to share concerns with other organisations?

It's vital to have clear procedures in place so that if allegations of abuse are made against an adult who is working or volunteering in your organisation, you know what to do.

> Read our example scenario about how to respond to concerns about inappropriate behaviour by an adult

> More information about managing allegations of abuse 

> More information about preventing abuse in positions of trust

Do you have a written procedure for managing allegations made against a child or young person who is involved with your organisation, including when and how to share concerns with other organisations?

You must have clear procedures in place so that if allegations of abuse are made against a child who is involved with your organisation, you know how to respond.

> More information about managing allegations made against a child

> Find out more about protecting children from harmful sexual behaviour

Do you have a whistleblowing procedure?

You should have a clear procedure for people to follow if they have concerns about the way child protection is being managed in your organisation. If somebody 'blows the whistle', they should not be penalised in any way.

> More information about whistleblowing 

Do you audit your safeguarding arrangements regularly?

It's important to continually review and improve your safeguarding practice. You can do this regularly using this checklist and our safeguarding resources.

> More information about safeguarding for the voluntary and community sector

Safer recruitment

Do you have a written safer recruitment policy statement which covers paid staff and volunteers?

It's vital to have a safer recruitment policy statement to ensure that only suitable people work with children.

> Find out what to include in your safer recruitment policy statement

Do you follow safe recruitment procedures for all staff and volunteers?

Establish clear recruitment procedures for staff and volunteers and make sure everyone who is involved with recruitment knows how to follow them. 

This includes:

  • advertising all posts with a clear safeguarding statement
  • having a clear job description and person specification for all roles
  • providing an applicant information pack
  • having a standard application form
  • asking applicants to complete a self-disclosure form
  • having clear shortlisting and interviewing procedures
  • checking identity and references
  • having clear and fair procedures to follow if any of your checks raise a concern about a potential employee or volunteer
  • the process of making an offer.

These will ensure that staff and volunteers are recruited safely and fairly, and that children's safety is being considered at every stage of the process.

> Find out more about safer recruitment procedures 

> Find out what steps you need to take if you’re working with parent volunteers

> Find out what steps you need to take if your organisation has volunteers that drop in

> Find out more about working with young volunteers

> What to do if your checks raise a concern about a potential employee or volunteer

Do you carry out all the checks that are needed for staff and volunteers to carry out their role?

Always carry out checks to make sure staff and volunteers are suitable to carry out their role.

This includes checking:

  • references
  • criminal records checks
  • vetting and barring checks
  • overseas checks
  • professional status
  • identification and eligibility to work in the UK
  • qualifications
  • a self-disclosure form.

> More information about pre-employment checks

> See template self-disclosure forms

Have you developed an induction process for all new staff and volunteers which includes child protection training?

Having an induction process helps make sure everyone working or volunteering for your organisation knows how to follow your safeguarding policies and procedures. You should also consider putting a mentoring and/or supervision process in place for new staff and/or having a probationary/trial period. This will allow concerns on either side to be raised and responded to appropriately.

> Find out more about our introductory child protection training

Do your staff and volunteers receive ongoing supervision, support, appraisal and child protection training?

Make sure you give your staff and volunteers the opportunity to reflect on and improve their practice and performance. They should also be given space to raise any concerns and talk about any upsetting issues that may arise when working with children and young people. Child protection training should be regular and ongoing to ensure all staff are kept up-to-date with changes in policies and procedures and to keep safeguarding at the front of their minds.

> Find out more about our child protection training 

Do you have a system for involving children and young people in the recruitment process?

Involving children and young people in the recruitment process for any role can help you make sure you are selecting the right person. You need to make sure this is planned in advance so everyone gets the most out of the experience.

> More information about how to involve children, young people and families in recruitment is available in our Safeguarding Standards

Bullying

Do you have a written policy statement and procedures which set out how your organisation will respond to and prevent bullying and cyberbullying?

You should have a written anti-bullying policy statement and procedures, which explains how your organisation will prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying. You should also have clear procedures for people to use to report bullying. Some organisations make this part of their complaints policy. These should be clear and easily accessible to staff, volunteers, children and families.

> Find out more about protecting children from bullying

> See example anti-bullying policy statement

Does your code of behaviour make it clear that bullying behaviour is unacceptable?

Your behaviour code should include examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

> See example behaviour codes for adults and children

Do you provide staff and volunteers with ongoing training about how to prevent and respond to bullying?

Provide staff and volunteers with training about tackling bullying as part of your ongoing child protection training. You may want to provide specific training about cyberbullying and online safety.

> Find out more about protecting children from bullying

> Listen to our podcast about online safety for children

> Find out about our Keeping children safe online training 

> Use our safeguarding scenarios to start discussions with staff and volunteers about topics such as bullying and online safety

Do you have regular discussions about bullying with the young people in your group/organisation?

It's important to proactively create and maintain a safer culture in your organisation. This includes having regular discussions with young people about bullying and making sure they know who to talk to if they are worried about anything.

> Order or download Childline posters 

> Our teaching resources can help start discussions with young people about bullying and healthy relationships

Do you promote diversity and celebrate difference?

By making your organisation as inclusive as possible you can help young people learn about and celebrate diversity. This can help ensure that everyone feels safe and respected.

You could consider:

  • operating a welcome policy that helps new children settle in and make friends
  • adopting an outreach policy to attract children, young people and adults from diverse groups
  • inviting people from different backgrounds to speak to a group
  • celebrating national awareness weeks and months.

Do you include children and young people in your work to prevent bullying?

It’s empowering for children and young people to be involved in your work to tackle bullying.

You could:

  • ask children and young people to help you develop a code of conduct
  • set up a peer support scheme
  • get young people to develop a welcome pack.

> More ideas for involving children in tackling bullying are in our Safeguarding Standards

Safer activities

Do you plan activities and events thoroughly in advance and put measures in place to keep children safe?

You should plan how you will keep children safe throughout every activity and event. This may include travel to and from events and overnight stays.

Ensure you carry out risk assessments for venues where your group(s) usually meets; special events, trips and outings; and equipment being used by staff, volunteers and children. Consider having an accident prevention policy.

For some activities risk is unavoidable. Make sure you manage the risk as best you can and balance it with the potential benefits for young people. You should keep clear records of your risk assessments and the steps you have taken.

Make sure you review risk assessments regularly and carry out regular checks on any equipment used by children, young people and adults.

You should also make sure you have adequate insurance and display your insurance policy. If you don't have insurance, discuss this with your local umbrella body or local council for voluntary service.

> Find out more about planning safe activities and events

> Find out what steps you need to take if you’re planning a residential trip

> Find out what you need to do if you hire out a venue to other groups

> Listen to our podcast on running activities with mixed age groups

> Information about carrying out risk assessments is available in our Safeguarding Standards

> Find out more about risk assessment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

> Find out more about accident prevention from the Child Accident Prevention Trust

Do you discuss why safeguards are in place with the children and young people you work with?

It's important for children and young people to understand why you are putting certain safeguards in place. Make sure you talk to them about why you've put rules in place to keep them safe.

Do you gain parental consent for children to take part in activities (and, where appropriate, the consent of young people)?

Always gain written consent before children take part in activities.

> Example form for gaining consent

Does your registration form for each child ask for details about their needs (medical, dietary, allergies, care needs)?

It's important that group leaders and any staff/helpers who are responsible for the child are aware of each child's needs and know how to provide the care they may need (for example if a child has a food allergy, adults should know how to administer an EpiPen). Group leaders should also have easy access to medical information in case of emergencies.

> Example registration form

Do you make sure that information that might be needed in an emergency is readily available?

Always obtain parents' or carers' contact information when a new member joins your group.

Make sure these contact details are kept secure but remain easily accessible for the staff/helpers who are responsible for the child.

Make sure group leaders also have contact numbers for local services that might be needed urgently, such as the children's services out of hours number and emergency services.

> Example registration form

Do you ensure anyone taking part in your organisation's activities can access first aid?

You should make sure you have enough first aiders and up-to-date first aid kits for all your activities. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice on this:  First aid courses are provided locally, for example by the St John Ambulance.

Do you have a procedure for reporting accidents and "near misses", and taking steps to mitigate any risks that may have caused the accident?

You should record all accidents and "near misses", and carry out risk assessments as necessary to reduce the risk of these happening again.

> More information about risk assessment is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Do you comply with health and safety regulations?

Make sure you comply with health and safety regulations including:

  • fire safety
  • first aid
  • food hygiene
  • hazardous substances
  • reporting injuries and diseases.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can provide more information about this.

Do you make sure your staff and volunteers are trained on accident prevention and health and safety?

Everyone who works or volunteers for your organisation should understand how to prevent accidents and use equipment safely.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice on this. 

Do you make sure children and young people are adequately supervised?

Make sure you have enough adults to supervise children properly. The number of adults you need may vary depending on the activity.

> Read our recommended adult to child ratios

> Find out what steps you need to take if you’re working alone with a child

> Read more about lone working

Sharing information

Do you have written guidelines and procedures on sharing information, which are compatible with the expectations of your local safeguarding agency?

Make sure your procedures are clear, easy to follow and that all your staff and volunteers are aware of them.

> More about information sharing

Do you make children and their families aware of the reasons why you may need to share information with other agencies, and gain their consent for doing so when appropriate?

It's important that children and families understand the reasons why you might need to share information to help keep children safe.

You should always seek consent to share information, but if you have a child protection concern you should share this information with the relevant people regardless of whether consent is given. It's important to get consent in writing.

> More about information sharing and consent 

Do you provide guidance to staff and volunteers about how to identify children and families who may benefit from early help and refer them to the right agencies for support?

People who work with children and families need to be able to spot the signs that they need extra support, and know who in the local area can help them.

> More information about early help

> Use our safeguarding scenarios to start discussions with staff and volunteers about situations where children and families may need early help

Do you make up-to-date information about local services available to staff, volunteers and families?

You should keep your staff and volunteers up-to-date with information about local services so that they are able to refer children and families to other organisations who can help them.

Do you proactively make links with other organisations who come into contact with the children you work with?

By forming links with other organisations such as the police, schools, health organisations and other clubs/activities that your cohort of children may be involved with, you can work together to engage with children and young people. This also gives you the opportunity to share any concerns if they arise and work together to support individuals.

> Best practice for multi-agency working

Do you provide guidance to staff and volunteers about how to work with children's services as part of a multi-agency response to carrying out assessments and providing support for children and families?

It's important that your staff and volunteers are able to work with other agencies to keep children safe, for example by contributing to an assessment or being part of a support plan.

> Find out more about best practice for multi-agency working

Are your nominated child protection lead(s) able to escalate concerns about children and young people with local safeguarding agencies if they are not satisfied with the action being taken?

Organisations should work together to keep children safe.

If you have any concerns about the action being taken to protect a child from harm, your child protection lead must raise these with the relevant agencies, following your organisational procedures.

> More information about multi-agency working

Recording information

Do you have a clear policy and procedures about how your organisation creates, stores, retains and disposes of child protection records, which all staff and volunteers follow and understand?

Develop clear guidance for staff on the creation, retention and storage of child protection records and make sure that they understand them fully.

This should include:

  • when and how to make records about child protection concerns
  • keeping personal information private and secure
  • how records should be stored and protected
  • how long records should be kept for
  • when and how records should be destroyed.

> More information about recording concerns 

> Read our child protection records retention and storage guidance 

Do you keep accurate records of concerns raised about children, young people and their families and share these with other organisations as appropriate?

Keep accurate records of any concerns raised about a child and their family. This will help you identify patterns of behaviour that may indicate a child is at risk of abuse or neglect and share this information with other organisations as appropriate. Records should be accurate, clearly distinguish between opinion and fact, and be signed and dated by the person making the record.

Any referrals to a statutory agency should be confirmed in writing within 48 hours and this should be kept on the child’s file.

> More information about making child protection records

> More information about the retention and storage of child protection records

Are records of concerns and your response to them placed on the child’s file?

Each child that you have concerns about should have their own file. Child protection files should be kept separate to your main files. Records of your concerns and your response to them need to be kept on the relevant file.

> More information about recording concerns

> Information about the retention and storage of child protection records 

Do you have a policy for granting children and families access to their records?

Make sure that when they create records, your staff and volunteers take into account the fact that children and families may ask to see the information that is written about them. Ensure that you provide enough support to enable children and families to access their records and have clear guidance about how to do so.

> Have a look at our Guide to accessing your personal information for an example (PDF)

Do you explain to children, young people and their families that you keep records about them and why?

It’s important that children and their families understand why you need to keep information about them and know they can access their records if they want to. You should always get consent to keep personal data.

Even if a child, their parents or their carers do not give consent to you keeping their information on file, you should still record and share any child protection concerns.

> More information about recording concerns

Do you make sure your staff and volunteers understand your expectations around recording and storing information?

Everyone who works or volunteers for your organisation should understand how to create, keep and store child protection records.

Make sure you provide them with appropriate guidance and ongoing training.

> Information about the retention and storage of child protection records