Child protection

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.  

> More information about writing a safeguarding and child protection policy statement and what it should include

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. You should also have someone at a senior level who oversees child protection.

> See example role description for nominated child protection lead

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  

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 AGENDA toolkit to talk to young people about positive relationships

> Use our Making sense of relationships resources to talk to young people about healthy relationships

> Use our Share Aware resources to help talk to young people about online safety

> Use our PANTS resources to talk to younger children about body boundaries 

> Order or download Childline posters

> Order or download Helpline posters

Do you confirm in writing any child protection referrals to a statutory agency within 48 hours?

If you make a verbal child protection referral to a statutory agency, you should always confirm this in writing within 48 hours.

> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse

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.

> More information about managing allegations of abuse 

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

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.

> More information about making child protection records

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

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 annually?

It's important to continually review and improve your safeguarding practice. You can do this annually using this safeguarding tool 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:

  • having a clear job description and person specification for all roles
  • providing an applicant information pack
  • having a standard application form
  • shortlisting and interviewing procedures
  • checking identity and references
  • 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 

Do you carry out appropriate vetting and barring checks for all staff and volunteers?

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

This includes checking:

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

> More information about vetting and barring checks

> See template self-disclosure forms

Do you have clear procedures to follow if vetting and barring checks raise concerns about a potential employee/volunteer?

If a person's vetting and barring checks raise concerns you need to assess whether they are suitable to work with children and young people. Depending on the concerns raised, you may need to inform the criminal records agency, professional bodies or police. It's vital to have clear procedures in place so that everyone involved in recruitment for your organisation knows what to do.

> Find out how to respond appropriately to concerns raised in vetting and barring checks 

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 

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. This should be made available 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

> Find out about our Keeping children safe online training 

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 

> Use our AGENDA toolkit to talk to young people about positive relationships 

> Use our Making sense of relationships resources to talk to young people about healthy relationships 

Safe activities

Do you carry out comprehensive risk assessments?

You should 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.

For some activities risk is unavoidable. Make sure you recognise this and manage the risk as best you can. You should keep clear records of your risk assessments and the steps you have taken.

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 risk assessment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

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 children and young people are adequately supervised?

Make sure you have enough adults to supervise children properly.

> Read our recommended adult to child ratios

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

Do you have a process to measure the impact on children of early help services you provide?

It's important to know how your services are helping children and young people, and other agencies may ask for this information to help with support plans.

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.

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.

Storing 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 retention and storage of child protection records and make sure that they understand them fully.

> More information about recording concerns 

> Read our child protection records retention and storage guidance 

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)

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