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Duty of care and safeguarding

Last updated: 29 Jun 2023
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What is duty of care in safeguarding?

Duty of care means to safeguard from harm and promote the wellbeing of those in your responsibility. There are specific obligations and legal requirements that organisations should follow to protect adults and children from harm in different settings.

Duty of care and safeguarding adults

As the UK’s leading children’s charity, everything we do protects children today and prevents abuse tomorrow, to transform society for every childhood. We provide child safeguarding guidance, resources and training for people working and volunteering with children. We don’t provide information about safeguarding adults – if you’re looking for guidance about duty of care in adult safeguarding, the Ann Craft Trust has advice and information.

Duty of care in child protection and safeguarding

It’s essential organisations meet a duty of care when working with children and young people. Statutory guidance sets out the safeguarding and child protection requirements you should follow.

There are different legal duties for organisations and individuals depending on the sector you work in, and whether you are in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Wherever you work, there are things you should do to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children. For example you should:

Some settings, like education, health and social care must follow additional statutory guidance and legislation.

There is also other legislation that you might need to consider when thinking about safeguarding children and young people. For example, the health and safety legislation that might contribute to your duty of care for safeguarding in sports clubs and organisations.

What is duty of care in childcare?

Like all organisations, those working in childcare and early years should meet a duty of care. This includes making sure any adults working and volunteering with children are suitable and that children are safe and well cared for.

Providers should also make sure that they follow safer recruitment processes and that supervision levels are appropriate.

Who is responsible for safeguarding?

It is everyone's responsibility to safeguard children and young people. All organisations that work with or come into contact with children should have safeguarding policies and procedures to make sure that every child - regardless of their background or circumstance - is equally protected from harm.

Everyone working and volunteering with children has a responsibility to keep children safe and should understand what they need to do, what to look out for and how to respond appropriately to concerns.

If you're new to safeguarding we have a range of content and tools to help you.

> See all our safeguarding and child protection information and resources


Learn more about safeguarding with our introductory course

Increase your confidence in identifying and responding to possible signs of child abuse and neglect with our CPD-certified introduction to safeguarding and child protection course - available online and face-to-face:

  • take the elearning course and train anywhere, anytime and at your own pace
  • receive real-time feedback from expert trainers with our live virtual course, or
  • meet and network with your peers with our face-to-face training course.

Whatever format you choose, you'll take part in interactive exercises and will be able to access further information and resources. Every learner receives a personalised certificate on completion of the course.

What’s more, income generated from the sale of our training courses is reinvested into the NSPCC to help us protect even more children.

> See introduction to child protection and safeguarding course